Monday, February 20, 2012


I can't believe it took me so long to watch this beautifully shot, beautifully acted, and beautifully written biting comedy. Alec Guinness's Ealing Films are an international cinematic treasure.

This one is about a scientist, Guinness, who invents a supposedly indestructible dirt repelling fabric. He makes one suit out of it and convinces one textile manufacturer to produce a line of clothes using his new invention. Trouble arises however when everyone but Guinness figures out that if you made indestructible dirt repelling clothes then you'd run labor out of work and management would go bankrupt because after everyone had one suit of clothes they'd never need another.

It's almost quaint to see how they portrayed union labor so sympathetically in this film. It's a good snapshot of where the labor movement was in post war Britain but it's almost too hard to believe that workers ever had that much power over big business. It's also hard to believe that there was so much textile work in England.

This film is very good and it's a beautiful black and white film to boot. The whites really pop out, especially Guinness's white suit. A scene that really stands out for me is the one where the mill owner's daughter negotiates her price to seduce Guinness out of taking his invention public, she and the other mill owners quickly figure out that they may be asking her to talk to Guinness but what they're really asking is for her to whore her self out so they can keep their positions of power and dominance. It's a powerful scene. Another great scene is the one where the mill owners and the union's works committee have finally caught Guinness after chasing him through the streets. He stands before them like a lamb being taken to the slaughter and when they discover his fabric isn't what he claimed, their laughter is like knives in to his psyche. It's brilliant I tell you.

This film should be required viewing for anyone who claims to like films as an art form.

These two films are the prequel to the hit series Doc Martin. They tell the story of how the good doctor came to Cornwall and how he became accepted. These films are very different from the Doc Martin series that came after them. In these the character of Doc Martin is likeable and very easy going, there none of the uptight arrogance that comes later. In fact, these films are very sweet and they read very much like a Cornish Northern Exposure. And that's not a bad thing but the producers rightly figured out that if they kept Doc Martin a nice easy going guy then there would not be much room for character development and if they'd kept him sweet and likeable, these two films probably would have been it for the series. Wisely, they chose to make him gruff, distant, and barely likable so that they have plenty of space to explore him and his interactions with the quirky citizens of his small adopted coastal Cornwall village.

I liked these movies but I like what came after them a whole lot more.

1 comment:

Peteykins said...

Oh! Oh! The Man in the White Suit is one of my favorite underrated movies, superb in every way. It's a low-key science fiction masterpiece.