November 16th 2012. Pick Of The Day

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Ralph Bakshi's seminal sleazetoon HEAVY TRAFFIC screens at the equally scary Museum of Arts and Design. Wes Craven's grim exploitation debut LAST HOUSE ON THE LEFT is accompanied by a liquor menu at Nitehawk Cinemas, and my bet is you'll need it. And Anthology Film Archives presents two exemplars of urban noir, both starring Jim Brown; the heist-gone-wrong THE SPLIT and the prison-break potboiler THE SLAMS. None are my Pick today. Today I choose a throwback to an even earlier but no less innocent time, should appearances deceive.

Ealing Studios had been about for a good couple of decades before they made their permanent mark as home to a particularly British postwar light farce, with black comedy moldering in from the edges. This era didn't last for very long, but it was indelible and has long become shorthand for dry, intelligent and mordant humor that could only be described as sophisticated anarchy. Ealing's cheif erudite loon, at least on-screen, was one Alec Guinness, master thespian and game lad. Among the heights scaled on Guffaw Mountain with such guides as Charles Chrichton and Alexander Macendrick we may count KIND HEARTS AND CORONETS, THE LAVENDER HILL MOB, and THE LADYKILLERS. All of which you should see, and none of which are playing at a theater near you I'm sorry to say. But one of the pinnacles of the Ealing era starring Our Lad Alec is showing for a week at the Film Forum, and some argue it is the studio's finest hour. THE MAN IN THE WHITE SUIT concerns the efforts of a lambasted physics whiz and his plan to create an unstainable and indestructable fabric, and the headaches that become life threatening once his project actually succeeds. It's fleet of foot and Noel Coward of wit. If you've never seen an Ealing comedy this may arguably be the quintessential place to begin, especially as it's presented on what we would generously call a big screen in its new DCP format. But look, whether in IMAX or on your iPhone the sheer amount of charm this flick generates will addict you to this studio's output during its heyday. And there's not a damn thing wrong with that.

THE MAN IN THE WHITE SUIT starts its week-long run today at Film Forum. Like us at! Join the Facebook group! Follow me on Twitter! Who luvz ya suckahz?!?


-Joe Walsh