The Man in the Gray Flannel Suit

ManInGrayFlannelSuitSuggested by Brad Nelson • A disgruntled veteran (Jack Hawkins) recruits a group of disgraced collegues to perform a bank robbery with military precision. Each of the men has a skeleton in the closet, is short of money, and is a service-trained expert in his field.
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11 Responses to The Man in the Gray Flannel Suit

  1. Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

    This is a terrific movie. Sorry, but the synopsis above doesn’t do the movie justice. (His wife, if you ask me, is a bit of a head case and hardly the noble one in this film.)

    I have a confession to make. I think Peck is a bit over-rated…or at least some of the movies he appears in are. But he is terrific in “Twelve O’Clock High,” “To Kill a Mockingbird,” “The Guns of Navarone,” “The Big Country,” and “Captain Horatio Hornblower.” You can add “Flannel Suit” to the list.

    This is an adult movie in a way most aren’t now. There are at least four or five good themes developed in this suitable for a bookclub-like discussion. Peck is good as the man who is trying to live an upwardly mobile middle class life (prompted by his nagging wife). But he has a hard time finding his current situation so awful (three lovely kids, a decent house, a good job), especially after having fairly recently made it through WWII where he was involved in a lot of traumatic stuff…including a love affair.

    Fredric March is at his best as Peck’s new boss. You don’t get caught up so much in the details of the business, but in how differently people can be committed to their livelihoods…for better or for worse. Anyone interested in an acting career should see how the pros do it. March is natural and you never catch him acting. He plays a very believable and ultimately sympathetic character. The interplay between him and Peck is the best part of the movie.

    Lee J. Cobb is terrific in a relatively minor role of the judge who gets involved with a house that Peck has inherited — and another matter (but I won’t spoil it for you).

    The movie plays like a slightly darker version of “The Best Years of Our Lives.” This is also about a soldier trying to adjust to civilian life. Part of the movie is composed of flashbacks to some of Peck’s actions in the war. And these scenes are very good.

    At 153 runtime, this is not a short movie. But it does hold your interest. Even March’s spoiled and rebellious child is well played and introduces a theme we can see now playing out drastically in today’s society. To see it emerge in film in 1956 is something to see. If we’d only known then what we know now. And the commentary regarding the influence of television (and remember this is 1956) is visionary and brilliant. There are a lot of little details like this.

  2. Kung Fu Zu Kung Fu Zu says:

    For another film in which March was very good, I recommend, “The Bridges at Toko-Ri”. In fact, the whole cast is excellent.

    • Timothy Lane says:

      What was his role in that movie? I’ve seen the movie, but don’t recall the actors particularly.

      • Kung Fu Zu Kung Fu Zu says:

        He played a rear admiral who commanded Holden’s task force.

        His son, who would have been about the same age of Holden, was killed in WWII and March’s character took something of a father-like interest in Holden’s.

  3. Kung Fu Zu Kung Fu Zu says:

    But he is terrific in “Twelve O’Clock High,

    I have a 93 year old friend who was in the 8th air force in England during the end of 1944 into 1945. He flew 35 missions over the Reich.

    He loves this movie and Peck’s portrayal in it.

  4. Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

    One of the best sections in this movie is where Peck and March (new employee and rich boss) are having a conversation and March is telling him to be sure to spend time with you children. March’s own daughter is going all libtard and Bohemian. March is warning his renegade daughter about the implications of her rebelliousness and says “Giving you money would be like giving a loaded gun to a child.” We don’t find out whether he disinherits her or not, but we suspect he does not — if only to save face and keep the image up. (And there’s another great scene where an AP reporter calls him and asks about his daughters marriage — which he knew nothing about — and March quickly puts on a nice face and says he approves).

    Anyway, Peck knows that some of this is going on, this deterioration of March’s life, which is only partially due to his commitment to his business (the film makers are deft enough not to resort to tired cliches). March tells him to beware of losing that connection. So in the very next scene, Peck comes home and the three children are in a darkened living room on the floor glued to a western playing on TV. Peck says “Hello, children” and they totally ignore him.

    The astute might see the roots of much of today’s problems in the dumbing-down of our minds by fixating on TV (and now vapid text messaging). It’s a great scene. Peck and his wife had been battling with the children over the TV throughout the movie. There are several aspects of “The Man in the Gray Flannel Suit” which seem out of place or undeveloped. It’s like this one movie either needed to be longer or part of a mini-series to further set up some of this.

    Well, that might be a good reason then to read the book. Maybe this all fits together better there. Here’s an interesting synopsis of that book at Amazon:

    Universally acclaimed when first published in 1955, The Man in the Gray Flannel Suit captured the mood of a generation. Its title — like Catch-22 and Fahrenheit 451 — has become a part of America’s cultural vocabulary. Tom Rath doesn’t want anything extraordinary out of life: just a decent home, enough money to support his family, and a career that won’t crush his spirit. After returning from World War II, he takes a PR job at a television network. It is inane, dehumanizing work. But when a series of personal crises force him to reexamine his priorities — and take responsibility for his past — he is finally moved to carve out an identity for himself. This is Sloan Wilson’s searing indictment of a society that had just begun to lose touch with its citizens. The Man in the Gray Flannel Suit is a classic of American literature and the basis of the award-winning film starring Gregory Peck. “A consequential novel.” — Saturday Review

    This, of course, is the libtard interpretation. I wonder if this wasn’t a “society losing touch with its citizens” (what does that mean?) and instead the citizens themselves self-anesthetizing themselves and becoming easy prey for the marketers. But surely in the 1950’s we do see a change occurring, for better and for worse.

    • Kung Fu Zu Kung Fu Zu says:

      I wonder if this wasn’t a “society losing touch with its citizens” (what does that mean?) and instead the citizens themselves self-anesthetizing themselves and becoming easy prey for the marketers.

      Thanks for saying that. I also had no idea what that phrase meant. It is another example of those who are enamored of words just spouting out something which has a nice sound to it. Pseudo-intellectual boobs who, too often, fool boobs who do not have a grasp of the language or are not really paying attention to what is being said.

  5. Timothy Lane says:

    Another book dealing with a revolt against business by a disaffected employee is The Man Whose Name Was Too Long (I think that’s the title; I have it around here somewhere).

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