THE MAN IN THE WHITE SUIT
Director: Alexander Mackendrick
Writer: John Dighton, Roger MacDougall, Alexander Mackendrick
Starring: Alec Guinness, Joan Greenwood, Cecil Parker, Michael Gough, Ernest Thesiger
IT ALWAYS RAINS ON SUNDAY
Director Robert Hamer
Writer Angus MacPhail, Robert Hamer, Henry Cornelius (from the book by Arthur La Bern)
Starring: Googie Withers, Edward Chapman, Susan Shaw
Reviewed by Guy Adams
Mention of Ealing Studios often seems to invoke the smell of buttered crumpets. A gentle,Â black and white blanket laced with Margaret Rutherfordâ€™s perfume. Iâ€™ve never been sureÂ why. Ealing have their charm, certainly, but they made some deliciously subversive films.Â Studio Canal UK are reminding us of this through their ongoing restoration releases,Â presenting classics from the studio. Two of this reviewerâ€™s favourite ever films, Kind Hearts and CoronetsÂ and The Ladykillers (both black and razor sharp) haveÂ already received such treatment and this month is the turn of The Man in the White SuitÂ and It Always Rains on a Sunday.
The Man in the White SuitÂ is a wonderfully witty little fantasy concerning the creationÂ of a fabric that never wears out and never gets dirty. If America had made it, Jerry LewisÂ would have starred (with Adam Sandler in the inevitable remake), Ealing chose AlecÂ Guinness. How terribly clever of them.
Naturally the story plays out somewhat satirically with both the executive and labour staffÂ of the fabric mills desperate to suppress an invention that could cost them all money. WhatÂ is especially clever is that, as much as you feel you should sympathize with Guinness asÂ the revolutionary inventor, you begin to realize that perhaps everyone else is right.
The restoration job is lovely, the film looking beautiful, a very welcome addition to anyoneâ€™sÂ library.
It Always Rains on a SundayÂ doesnâ€™t really fit under the fantasy banner but with a filmÂ this good I donâ€™t care so Iâ€™ll talk about it anyway. Directed by Robert Hamer, a homosexualÂ during a time when it was illegal in the UK, whose alcoholism caused him insurmountableÂ problems during the last few years of his short life.
Itâ€™s a shockingly frank and rich picture of life in the East End in post-war London.Â Many character stories converging in a climax that is justly lauded as a triumph ofÂ cinematography and suspense even now.
For many years the film was barely discussed, achieving its current reputation inÂ hindsight. Still, it deserves to be wider known and acknowledged as the masterpiece itÂ unquestionably is. Ferociously recommended.