I watched the 1951 film, "The Man in the White Suit" the other day. It had been many years since I'd last seen it and it was a real pleasure to view it again. It was one of the handful of comedies that Alec Guinness starred in at Ealing Studios in England, and is part of a boxed set of DVDs currently available. In this film, Alec Guinness plays the mild-mannered chemistry genius, Sidney Stratton, who invents a fabric that is impervious to dirt, water, tearing, or wearing out with time. Unfortunately, this puts him in bad standing with both the garment industry and the labour union, who count on clothes needing to be regularly replaced in order to maintain their jobs!
Alec Guinness really was a chameleon as an actor, being able to play so many diverse characters, usually looking so different in each role. Almost unrecognizable as Fagin in David Lean's "Oliver Twist", rather hideous as a bank robber in "The Ladykillers", and playing multiple characters in "Kind Hearts and Coronets". Then of course, later in his career he played an Arab sheik, Prince Feisal in "Lawrence of Arabia". My favourite role of his though, is as Colonal Nicholson in "The Bridge on the River Kwai", particularly in that wonderful scene where he completely turns the tables around on his Japanese captor, convincing him that he will only be able to build his bridge by utilizing British know-how, and that he himself will assume command of the project.
It's unfortunate that many filmgoers today may only know of Alec Guinness as Obi Wan Kenobi in "Star Wars". As far as I'm concerned, that role is only a small footnote in such a long and illustrious career.