THE MAN IN THE WHITE SUIT (ODEON, MARBLE. ARCH: Certificate IN) Director : Alexander Mackendrick
IDEAS new as a one-minute baby; the treatment as fresh as five o'clock on a June morning; the form as old as Chaplin's boots. The finished entertainment is something as delightfully funny and clean as the wise lunacy of Dickens. Chesterton or Beachcomber. Ealing Studios have done it again.
The story is of a knight in shining serge.
Mr. Alec Guinness plays Sidney Stratton, who went to Cambridge. took a degree in science and was displaced from that seat of learning because he has a notion to make a cloth fabric that will resist dirt and never wear out.
Sacked from job after iob, Sidney retains a dogged faith in his idea. Eventually, by all sorts of comic means. working up tension all the time, he succeeds.
And then it goes all madly, gloriously Chestertonian.
If the fabric goes on the market, all the mills in the country will be out of business. Saville Row may become a country lane; Lancashire must go hack to the land; and the bosses of the industry will drink canteen lea in lieu of champagne. There will be no work for the workers.
Front London a stream of luxurious cars converge on the mill where Sid works. A wonderfully wizened financial wizard, played with asthmatic genius by Mr. Ernest 'I'hesiger, is carried to "the scene of the crime."
Sid. resplendent in new white suit. meets them. There is a strike at the mill. Then Capital and Labour unite to fight Sid, the benefactor of humanity.
The form. I said, is old, chase after chase ending in wild pursuit of the little chivalrous man glistening in luminous cloth, his hunters. clothcapped workers and dapper business men.
The treatment is as new as the idea; the film is shot in a real mill. The context is true and the casting brilliantly veracious,
Miss Vida Hope is a comically class-conscious worker, Mr. Cecil Parker as a pompously naive millowner, Mr, Miles Matteson as a quietly affronted tailor, down to the smallest bit part-and I must mention Miss Edie Martin as a landlady -the acting is perfect. Miss Joan Greenwood brings her gurgling sense of humour to a charmingly satirical scene as a millowner's daughter who owns herself.
And Guinness is superb. The reader is invited to note the last scene as the little man walks quietly, triumphantly in failure, out on to the sky-line. Ealing has new ideas; but out there they don't despise a good old one. All power to their elbows.
LOVE HAPPY (CAnt,TON: Certificate U) Director : David Miller THIS is vintage Marx, so close to 4 the formulae of "Animal Crackers" and "Duck Soup" that it has the air of a period piece.
Groucho, leering. ogling, snarling, tells the story of the Romanoff diamonds and haw he, Sam Grunion, "a private eye," tried to restore them to their rightful owner, himself, and how Harpo got there first.
The best parts of the picture are pure "gag" work-Harpo miming out words in punning action-conducting a conversation by means of horns, whistles, grunts and mind-readingthe receiver fixed to his head; Chico's acrobatic fingers conjuring what appears to be marvellous at least marvellously witty music from a piano; and Groucho being himself.
One urges this film on connoisseur of comedy. For others I recommend Harpo's birthday party in Central Park for a jilted girl, his gentle ser
enacting on a harp. and the birthday candles glowing on his five fingers. He has a raven, too, that wears a top hat and a tail coat.
(WARNERS : Certificate U)
Director : Robert Cannon
THIS little film won an Academy Award for the best cartoon short of the year. One recommends it to all and Mr. Walt Disney.
The idea is simple and funny. A little boy is born who cannot talk. He makes noises like radio sound effects.
At first Gerald• is very unhappy, spurned by school friends and even his parents. Then he finds a place where his genius is at home and eventually drives off, cheered by sycophants, in a ear some miles tong.
Where the film is different is in its use of line, and the skill of the artists in caricaturing human beings.
There is a charming doctor who glides in and out on heel and toe, and Gerald and his father might have leaped from the easel of one of our hest newspaper cartoonists.
Disney's method of building up scenery until his whole screen looks like a badly reconstructed music hall set is entirely outside the way of the makers of Gerald. Comic lines, the minimum of detail, a brilliantly comic use of sound effects, and gentle satire make this a prizeworthy picture.
THE IRON MAN (GAUMONT Certificate A) Director : Joseph Pevney
THIS film is being screened with Chicago Masquerade, reviewed in our last issue, in one horribly balanced programme. The latter exploited semi-nudity and " suggesting" vulgarity; The Iron Man is
an essay in physical cruelty. Both pictures were manufactured by Universal International.
A simple, obtuse and kindly coalminer is induced, for money, to enter the prize-ring by his devoted brother and loving wife. He cannot box but such is his physical strength that he can endure a great deal of punishment.
Stimulated by the jeers of the crowd he goes berserk and by sheer power defeats his opponents, pounding each into unconsciousness.
To ensure the maximum of sensational details the fight scenes were photographed mainly in close-up, so we see the men's faces being battered to pulp.
The film has little to do with boxing as it is known in this country. and, one hopes, in the United States. All the main characters live merely to make money. In this respect the picture may be an accurate reflection of its makers' values.
W. J. IGOE