The Man in the White Suit, Universal's latest in its series of vehicles for Alec Guinness, is this time a not too subtly veiled vehicle for economic propaganda. It suffers for his reason in comparison with its predecessors. Until the last 20 minutes, however, when the creeping moralysis sets, in, the film rollicks along in the best tradition of Guinness'. dead-pan humor.
Guiness himself is superb as a wide-eyed young chemist who discovers an extraordinary fabric which can never spot and never wear out. Always slightly underplaying his role, he manages to extract every bit of humor from an essentially unfunny situation.
The first and most amusing part of the picture concerns the chemist's search for a job in a textile firm and subsequent explosive experiments in the research laboratory. After Guinness thinks he has perfected the material, the film bogs down when the boss' saccharine daughter (Joan Greenwood) falls for him and wheezes her way through a mawkish, one-sided love affair.
The message begins when Guinness tries to put his indestructible fabric on the market. He is of course opposed by the "vested interests" of capital and labor, both of which would be annihilated by the inevitable revolution in the textile industry that his invention would cause. To avoid this overproduction crisis, the fabric gets suppressed, and the consumer gets it in the neck. Actually this film may soothe a lot of nasty old mossbacks, who may infer that government intervention is necessary only when Alec Guinness comes along and invents a material which will throw a whole segment of the economy on the rocks.