THE MAN IN THE WHITE SUIT (1951)
Most people agree that our primary purpose in this life is to try to do good and make the world a better place. Sometimes, this is a lot easier said than done. Sidney Stratton is an idealistic, quirky young inventor who perfects a new type of fabric that does not stain or wear out. This will revolutionize the clothing industry. Suddenly, nobody has to worry about buying clothes anymore. People will save hundreds of thousands of dollars! It's the discovery of the decade, and all Sidney wants to do is share it with the world. However, it turns out the world isn't quite ready to hear about it. An invention like this will destroy the fashion and clothing business; people across the world would be out of a job. As an angry mob chases after Sidney, the audience is faced with a dilemma. We're on Sidney's side, but do we really want him to succeed? Is there such a thing as too much progress? These questions are more relevant now than ever, as computers and automation make life more convenient for some, while making others obsolete. Of the Ealing comedies, The Man in the White Suit is not often discussed. People are more likely to talk about The Ladykillers or The Lavender Hill Mob. And, yet, this film stuck with me more than those others. Because, in the midst of a somewhat zany comedy, there are real human issues being addressed. And there are no easy answers provided, only questions asked.