This week’s mystery movie was the 1951 Ealing Studios film “The Man in the White Suit,” with Alec Guinness, Joan Greenwood, Cecil Parker, Michael Gough, Ernest Thesiger, Vida Hope, Howard Marion Crawford, Miles Malleson, Henry Mollison, Patric Doonan and Duncan Lamont.
Based on the play by Roger MacDougall, screenplay by Roger MacDougall, John Dighton and Alexander Mackendrick, production supervisor Hal Mason, photography by Douglas Slocombe, edited by Bernard Gribble, unit production manager L.C. Rudkin, sound supervisor Stephen Dalby, camera operator Jeff Seaholme, assistant director David Peers, recordist Arthur Bradburn, continuity Felicia Manheim, costume designer Anthony Mendeleson, special processes Geoffrey Dickinson, special effects by Sydney Pearson, makeup by Ernest Taylor and Harry Frampton, hairstyles by Barbara Banard, scientific adviser Geoffrey Myers, additional photography by Lionel Banes, art director Jim Morahan, associate producer Sidney Cole, music by Benjamin Frankel, played by the Philharmonia Orchestra, conducted by Ernest Irving. Produced by Michael Balcon, directed by Alexander Mackendrick.
“The Man in the White Suit” is available on DVD from Amazon.
Writing in the New York Times (April 1, 1952), Bosley Crowther said:
There is every good reason why Alec Guinness should be the darling of the British Treasury and the toast of the London City (despite his forays in “The Lavender Hill Mob”). For certainly Mr. Guinness and the pictures in which he appears are the most amusing, if not the most profitable, exports from Britain these days. And now, in “The Man in the White Suit,” which arrived last night at the Sutton, the popular actor also is providing a sobering lesson in national economy.
Sobering may not be the best word — or even the right one — to apply to this deft and sardonic little satire on the working of modern industry, and for letting it slip into the context we quickly apologize. Although the subject is obviously serious and the moral may be a trifle sad, the prevalent spirit of the screenplay is mischievous, impudent and droll. And the performance of Mr. Guinness, as a textile chemist who collides head-on with vested interests when he invents an ever-wearing fabric, is in his most antic deadpan style.
For Monday, we have some mysterious laboratory equipment. Nobody in the film (except for our mysterious leading man) approves of such goings-on.
Update: This is the infernal gadget that produces the (supposedly) indestructible fabric for the white suit in question. The sound effects are marvelous and you can hear them here.
For Tuesday, we have a mystery chap examining our mystery contraption. His companions have been cropped out due to their lack of mysteriousness. They will appear later in the week. Neither our mystery chap nor his less mysterious companions approve of such goings-on.
Update: As promised, the uncropped version of our mystery photo, showing Roddy Hughes (center) examining the infernal contraption with, from left, Cecil Parker, Colin Gordon and Michael Gough.
For Wednesday, we have three mysterious chaps from the Center for the Advanced Study of Unapproved Goings-On.
Update: This is Desmond Roberts, Ernest Thesiger and Howard Marion Crawford.
Our mystery woman also does not approve of such goings-on, although she approves of our mysterious leading man.
Update: This is Vida Hope.
Brain Trust roll call: Howard Mandelbaum (mystery movie, Tuesday’s mystery guest and all the actors cropped out of Tuesday’s mystery photo), Sheila (mystery movie), E. Yarber (mystery movie and a fond recollection of the audio accompanying Monday’s mystery photo), Anne Papineau (mystery movie and Tuesday’s mystery gent), and Earl Boebert (mystery movie and a fond recollection of the audio that Monday’s mystery contraption makes).
For Thursday, we have a mystery girl. She isn’t sure what to make of such goings-on.
Update: This is Mandy Miller.
Brain Trust roll call: Howard Mandelbaum (Wednesday’s mystery guests), Mike Hawks (mystery movie and Wednesday’s mystery gent No. 2), Chrisbo (mystery movie and Wednesday’s mystery gent No. 2), Floyd Thursby (mystery movie and Wednesday’s mystery guests), Anne Papineau (Wednesday’s mystery gents) and E. Yarber (Tuesday’s and Wednesday’s mystery guests).
For Friday… (using a shadowy image to preserve some small shred of mysteriousness)… we have our mystery leading man and mysterious leading lady. The lapel game is strong with our mystery gent.
“It looks like that suit is wearing you!”
Update: This is Alec Guinness and Joan Greenwood.
Brain Trust roll call: Mary Mallory (mystery movie, several of Tuesday’s truncated gents, Nos. 2 and 3 from the Center for the Advanced Study of Unapproved Goings-On, Wednesday’s mystery woman and Thursday’s mystery girl), Howard Mandelbaum (Thursday’s mystery girl), E. Yarber (Thursday’s mystery girl), Mike Hawks (Thursday’s mystery girl), Anne Papineau (Wednesday’s mystery woman) and Don Danard (No. 2 of the Center for the Advanced Study of Unapproved Goings-On).