The Man In The White Suit. Image shows from L to R: Sidney Stratton (Alec Guinness), Daphne Birnley (Joan Greenwood). Copyright: Ealing Studios
The Man In The White Suit

The Man In The White Suit

  • 1951 film

Classic Ealing comedy starring Alec Guinness. Sidney Stratton invents a fibre that never gets dirty and never wears out, but it causes him problems. Also features Joan Greenwood, Cecil Parker, Michael Gough, Ernest Thesiger, Vida Hope and more.

The Man In The White Suit. Image shows from L to R: Sidney Stratton (Alec Guinness), Frank (Patric Doonan), Bertha (Vida Hope). Copyright: Ealing Studios

Key details

Roger MacDougall
Alec Guinness, Joan Greenwood, Cecil Parker, Michael Gough, Ernest Thesiger, Vida Hope, Howard Marion Crawford, Miles Malleson and more
Roger MacDougall, John Dighton and Alexander Mackendrick
Alexander Mackendrick
Michael Balcon and Sidney Cole

Sidney Stratton is a Cambridge-educated scientist working at a textile mill: seemingly considered an eccentric however, he is only able to find work in a lowly maintenance role. He has, never the less, managed to set up his own spot in the factory's development lab amidst a myriad of official projects, where he surreptitiously works to refine a new fibre.

Facing resignation or the sack after his illicit experiment is discovered by his superiors, he leaves for the North and another major mill with a development department, Birnley. Initially facing a similar lack of formal access to the labs, he manages to find voluntary work helping the scientists after exhibiting his own wealth of knowledge - and is rewarded with officially recognised space to use in his own time.

After much hard work, facing various further hiccups, finally convincing Mr. Birnley and his board - plus not before spending a large amount of the mill's money and causing several explosions - Stratton finally perfects the manufacture of his fibre.

The brilliant-white new material has astonishing properties: it repels dirt, never wears out, and cannot be ripped, cut or torn. Birnley sees the business potential in this, but when rumour of the project reaches his competitors they convene a delegation and swoop upon the Birnley mill. They realise that, never wearing out, only a limited amount of the fibre will ever need to be made, putting all other companies, and eventually Birnley itself, out of business.

Meanwhile, the Birnley workers have also heard about Sidney's discovery and have come to the exact same conclusion. Socialists and capitalists alike join forces in order to stop Stratton's invention reaching the attention of the public, but the man in the white suit is not going to be stopped easily.

Additional details

UK certificate
81 minutes
UK release
Tuesday 7th August 1951

General Film Distributors

Camera set-up
Single camera
Black and white
Music by Benjamin Frankel, performed by the Philharmonia Orchestra, conducted by Ernest Irving.

Website links

Broadcast details

Most recent repeats
  • Friday 25th February 2022 at 1:00pm on BBC2
  • Tuesday 20th July 2021 at 2:50pm on BBC2
  • Tuesday 7th April 2020 at 3:25pm on BBC2

Recording details

  • Ealing Studios

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