The Man in the Gray Flannel Suit

"Very Good"

The Man in the Gray Flannel Suit Review


You've heard of "the man in the gray flannel suit." He's the workaholic office drone who commutes into the city every day and struggles wearily to climb a daunting corporate ladder while dealing with petty office politics. In The Man in the Gray Flannel Suit, Gregory Peck plays Tom Rath, that quintessential '50s organization man, an archetypal tormented post-war striver and father of the baby boom who wonders if he's making the right choices... or if he has the freedom to make any choices at all in his conformist world.

A Madison Avenue advertising executive, Rath lives in a comfortable Connecticut bedroom community and commutes in and out of the city, leaving him little time for his wife Betsy (Jennifer Jones) and his funny, television-addicted kids. Betsy, who in typical '50s suburban style is deeply concerned about keeping up with the Joneses, pushes Rath to find a better job, and he agrees even as he realizes that more work and stress is not what he wants. In fact, he's heading toward what we now call a mid-life crisis, although they didn't have a word for it back then.

Rath is well-pressed and professional on the surface (and kind of boring to be honest), but there's trouble brewing within. Flashbacks to war-torn Italy introduces us to Rath's Italian lover and shows us the kinds of horrific memories that millions of veterans brought back from battle and had to work through themselves, without the help of post-traumatic stress counselors. On the home front, Betsy is nagging and tightening the screws, and there's also a bit of legal trouble regarding a contested inheritance to keep Rath busy. Rath's new job with hard-driving Ralph Hopkins (Frederic March) is also turning out to be too much to handle.

And then, Mamma Mia! Rath finds out that he's the father of a little bambino back in Italy. Now all his assumptions about his various possible futures are tossed into the air as he tries to figure out how to the do the right thing given this shocking new variable.

The Man in the Gray Flannel Suit is far more valuable as documentation of very particular time and place in American society than it is as drama. It's far too long and plodding, and Peck comes across as even more stifled than his Rath character should be. A lively supporting cast helps somewhat, but with its glacial pacing and long pauses, this is the kind of melodrama that makes you want to turn on the subtitles and hit fast-forward until something noteworthy happens.

Still, it's fun to see what a typical New York office was like 50 years ago (well-dressed men sitting on great furniture in spacious offices talking things over without a computer or an e-mail message in sight), and Rath's dilemma -- the struggle to live a balanced life that puts his family on an equal footing with his career -- is as relevant today as it was back then, perhaps even more so.



The Man in the Gray Flannel Suit

Facts and Figures

Run time: 153 mins

In Theaters: Tuesday 8th May 1956

Distributed by: Fox

Production compaines: Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 3.5 / 5

Rotten Tomatoes: 75%
Fresh: 9 Rotten: 3

IMDB: 7.2 / 10

Cast & Crew

Producer: Darryl F. Zanuck

Starring: as Tom Rath, as Betsy Rath, as Ralph Hopkins, as Maria Montagne, as Judge Bernstein, as Helen Hopkins, as Sgt. Caesar Gardella, as Bill Hawthorne, Gigi Perreau as Susan Hopkins, Portland Mason as Janey Rath, Arthur O'Connell as Gordon Walker, as Bill Ogden

Also starring:

Contactmusic


Links



Advertisement

Contactmusic 2017 Exclusive

New Movies

Patriots Day Movie Review

Patriots Day Movie Review

The third time's a charm for Mark Wahlberg and director Peter Berg, who previously teamed...

A Cure for Wellness Movie Review

A Cure for Wellness Movie Review

It's no surprise that this creep-out horror thriller is packed with whizzy visual invention, since...

It's Only the End of the World Movie Review

It's Only the End of the World Movie Review

At just 27 years old, Canadian filmmaker Xavier Dolan has an almost overwhelming set of...

Hidden Figures Movie Review

Hidden Figures Movie Review

This film recounts such a great true story that we don't mind the fact that...

The Founder Movie Review

The Founder Movie Review

This is the story of Ray Kroc, the man who created the concept of McDonald's....

John Wick: Chapter 2 Movie Review

John Wick: Chapter 2 Movie Review

Keanu Reeves picks up his supremely efficient hitman immediately where the 2015 original left him:...

Fences Movie Review

Fences Movie Review

After winning Tony Awards on Broadway, Denzel Washington and Viola Davis reteam for a film...

Advertisement
The Lego Batman Movie Movie Review

The Lego Batman Movie Movie Review

A spin-off from 2014's awesome The Lego Movie, this raucously paced action-comedy is proof that...

The Space Between Us Movie Review

The Space Between Us Movie Review

While the premise of this movie makes it look like a sci-fi adventure, the truth...

Toni Erdmann Movie Review

Toni Erdmann Movie Review

On paper, the idea of a two-hour 40-minute German comedy may not seem very promising,...

Gold Movie Review

Gold Movie Review

Based on a true story, this lively and sometimes outrageous adventure is packed with twists...

Loving Movie Review

Loving Movie Review

While this film tackles a huge issue in the history of race relations in America,...

T2 Trainspotting Movie Review

T2 Trainspotting Movie Review

It's been 20 years since we last saw four freewheeling young junkies from Edinburgh spiral...

Hacksaw Ridge Movie Review

Hacksaw Ridge Movie Review

Based on an astounding true story, this battlefield drama mixes warm emotion with intense action...

Advertisement
Artists
Actors
    Filmmakers
      Artists
      Bands
        Musicians
          Artists
          Celebrities
             
              Artists
              Interviews
                musicians & bands in the news
                  actors & filmmakers in the news
                    celebrities in the news

                      Go Back in Time using our News archive to see what happened on a particular day in the past.