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The Bespoke Overcoat

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The Bespoke Overcoat PG rating

Jack Clayton's Oscar-winning ghost story based on a Gogol fable and set in the Jewish East End

Fantasy 1955 38 mins

Director: Jack Clayton


This enchanting ghost story is a re-imagining by screenwriter Wolf Mankowitz of a short story by the Russian writer Gogol. The story has travelled from St. Petersburg to the East End of London and details the poignant friendship of two poor, elderly Jews working in the clothing trade, one of whom has reappeared as a ghost following his recent death. The living man was working on a coat for the deceased, who died from pneumonia before it could be completed.

The film is both moving and memorable for the outstanding acting of the two leads (Alfie Bass and David Kossoff) and the integrity and melancholy of the film’s narrative and context. Georges Auric’s soundtrack adds another layer of elegant sadness to this excellent short film, which won both an Oscar and a BAFTA.