The Bespoke Overcoat

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The Bespoke Overcoat
The Bespoke Overcoat.jpg
Film poster
Directed byJack Clayton
Produced byGeorge K. Arthur
Jack Clayton
Written byNikolai Gogol
Wolf Mankowitz
StarringAlfie Bass
David Kossoff
CinematographyWolfgang Suschitzky
Edited byStan Hawkes
Distributed byBritish Lion Films
Release date
  • 7 October 1956 (1956-10-07)
Running time
33 minutes
CountryUnited Kingdom

The Bespoke Overcoat is a 1956 British short film directed by Jack Clayton, based on a 1953 play of the same name by Wolf Mankowitz. The story is an adaptation of Nikolai Gogol's short story The Overcoat with the action moved from Russia to the East End of London. In this version the protagonists are poor Jews working in the clothing trade. It won an Oscar at the 29th Academy Awards in 1957 for Best Short Subject (Two-Reel).[2][3] The play was performed at the Arts Theatre in London with Kossoff and Bass and was directed by Alec Clunes. The supporting cast was Harold Kasket and Oscar Quitak.[4]


Fender is a lowly clerk in the warehouse of clothing manufacturers Ranting and Co. His one ambition is to have an overcoat of his own. Refused one by the coldhearted Ranting, he asks a tailor friend, Morry, to make him one instead, but dies of cold before he can take delivery of it. Unwilling to give up his only desire even in death, he returns as a ghost to persuade Morry to steal him the overcoat he so coveted in life.[5]


Pauline Kael called The Bespoke Overcoat "one of the best short-story films ever made".[6]



  1. ^ Alexander Walker, Hollywood, England, Stein and Day, 1974 p51
  2. ^ "The 29th Academy Awards (1957) Nominees and Winners". Archived from the original on 6 July 2011. Retrieved 21 August 2011.
  3. ^ "New York Times: The Bespoke Overcoat". NY Times. Retrieved 20 May 2008.
  4. ^ Mankowitz, Wolf (2006). The Plays. London: Oberon Books. ISBN 978-1840026993.
  5. ^ "The Bespoke Overcoat (1956)". Retrieved 1 July 2013.
  6. ^ Kael, Pauline (2011) [1991]. 5001 Nights at the Movies. New York: Henry Holt and Company. p. 63. ISBN 978-1-250-03357-4.

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