SCREENING ROOM Turns to British Comedy With THE MAN IN THE WHITE SUIT

The free film series "The Screening Room: Classics, Crowd-Pleasers, Cult Favorites and Neglected Gems" celebrates the comedic legacy of England’s legendary Ealing Studios with a 60th-anniversary showcase of one of Alec Guinness’ signature movie roles.

The offbeat, Oscar-nominated comedy "The Man in the White Suit" (1950) will be screened at 7 p.m. Thursday, April 15, at the Florence-Lauderdale Public Library, 350 N. Wood Ave., downtown Florence.

Directed by Alexander Mackendrick ("Tight Little Island," "The Ladykillers," "Sweet Smell of Success"), the sharp-witted satire casts Guinness as an altruistic chemist who invents a fabric that will serve as a cost-saving boon to humanity by resisting the ravages of wear, tear and staining.

Much to his surprise, the well-meaning inventor faces fierce opposition from both labor and management, who fear that the miraculous new fabric will mean the end of their livelihood in Great Britain’s vast garment-manufacturing industry.

In addition to Guinness, "The Man in the White Suit" stars Joan Greenwood, Cecil Parker, Michael Gough and Ernest Thesiger. The film earned an Academy Award nomination for its screenplay, which blends charming fantasy with slapstick comedy and penetrating social commentary.

The film was part of a long-running series of Ealing-produced comedies that began in 1949 with "Tight Little Island" (also known as "Whiskey Galore!"). Guinness was to star in a number of the studio’s most eccentric and successful features, including "Kind Hearts and Coronets" (1949), "The Lavender Hill Mob" (1951) and "The Ladykillers" (1955).

"The Screening Room" is sponsored by the Florence-Lauderdale Public Library and Pillar of Fire. The series is organized and hosted by film historian and Pillar of Fire founder Terry Pace, who teaches English at UNA.

The series’ April lineup concludes with a 70th-anniversary screening of Michael Powell’s eye-popping fantasy epic "The Thief of Bagdad" (1940) at 2 p.m. Sunday, April 25. Based on the classic "Arabian Nights" tales, the film stars Conrad Veidt, Sabu, Rex Ingram and Miles Malleson.

All "Screening Room" programs are free and open to the public. For details, call the library at (256) 764-6564 or Pillar of Fire at (256) 366-4512, or e-mail pillaroffire@bellsouth.net.

“Some fool has invented an indestructible cloth. Who is he? How much does he want?” – Sir John Kierlaw (Ernest Thesiger) in Alexander Mackendrick’s "The Man in the White Suit" (1950)
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