THE BESPOKE OVERCOAT (1956)
Article 3778 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 12-6-2011
Posting Date: 12-18-2011
Directed by Jack Clayton
Featuring David Kossoff, Alfie Bass, Alan Tivern
What it is: Ghost story
An elderly clerk, unable to afford a sheepskin coat from the factory where he works, commissions a tailor to make him a new coat. Unfortunately, the clerk is sacked and dies before the coat is completed. The tailor is then visited by the ghost of the clerk, who wants one last favor from him – to help him steal a sheepskin coat from his former employer.
This short, by the director who would later helm THE INNOCENTS and SOMETHING WICKED THIS WAY COMES, was based on a story by Nikolai Gogol. Given the subject matter, I was expecting a twist ending of sorts, but that’s not the way this one works; it’s more of a character piece, and both David Kossoff and Alfie Bass give excellent and memorable performances as the tailor and the clerk. Actually, it reminded me a bit of THE BICYCLE THIEF, in the way that it shows us some characters for whom an ordinary item (that you or I might take for granted) becomes the center of their existence. The short is moving and beautifully photographed. My favorite moment has the ghost deciding to not try walking through a wall because he would feel rather silly.