By Josephine Grahl
Paul Kinsey: It’s from the future, a place so close to us now,
filled with wonder and ease.
Don Draper: Except some people think of the future and it upsets them. They see a rocket, they start building a bomb shelter.
— Mad Men
There are films which seem as though they come from another world. The Man In The White Suit (1951) is one of those. In some ways it’s a straightforward comedy about unforeseen consequences; but in another way, it’s a film about a world that might have been but never was – that might have been but now never can be.
Sidney Stratton (Alec Guinness) is a maverick research scientist in the textile industry occupied with synthesising a new fabric. As a researcher, he’s fired from several mills, but then finds himself working for Birnley’s, first as a labourer and then, by accident, as a researcher. The gradual sequence in which he appears, peering from behind his lab equipment, disappearing behind a door, to the gentle ‘blip… bloop’ of his chemical process is a gently comical delight.