Gray Flannel


“You’ve got a clean shirt and you bathe everyday. That’s all there is to it.” This is one of the first lines spoken in the 1956 film The Man in the Gray Flannel Suit, during a scene between Tom Rath (played by Gregory Peck) and his friend Bill Hawthorne, as Hawthorne casually offers Rath a job during their nightly commute from Manhattan back to Connecticut.  Hawthorne says the line as he mentions a public relations job that he thinks Rath might be good at, but it’s really a reference to the movie as a whole.  The Man in the Gray Flannel Suit is about the facade of middle class life in the 1950’s with it’s daily struggles that fester on commuter rail rides, arriving in oversized modern offices big enough to contain a lifetime of dreams deferred, or buried nightly in neatly manicured grass patches on postage stamp lawns, all bundled up in identical gray flannel.  Whether or not this is actually how life in the fifties was, I can’t say because this movie (and the book it’s based on by Sloan Wilson) are nearly twice my age, but what I can say though is that for as much as I enjoy this movie, I’ve always had a problem with the title.

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