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Bespoke Overcoat, The (1955)


Warning: screenonline full synopses contain 'spoilers' which give away key plot points. Don't read on if you don't want to know the ending!

A coffin is wheeled to a Jewish cemetery and placed in a freshly dug grave. Morry the tailor looks down at it, strokes an overcoat that he has been carrying and tosses it on top of the coffin. The grave is filled in.

He goes back to his basement flat and lights a candle for the recently deceased Fender. He reminisces about their conversations about Fender's overcoat. He is startled to find Fender's ghost in the room with him. Fender reassures him that haunting is the last thing on his mind: instead, he wants restitution from Mr Ranting, the warehouse owner, where Fender worked for 43 years.

Fender recalls his time in the warehouse, complaining about the cold. Ranting advises him to get a new overcoat. Fender tries to negotiate a deal over one of the firm's overcoats. Ranting says that he can't afford it. Fender wonders whether Morry could be persuaded to mend his old coat yet again.

Morry says that mending the coat is impossible, and that he would be far better off with a new one. He offers to make him one for the cost of materials: twelve pounds. Fender negotiates him down to ten, and the deal is made. He is excited at the prospect of a genuinely bespoke overcoat. He picks the material, pattern and colour.

In the warehouse, Fender shares part of his bagel with a mouse and tells it about his plans. Ranting tells him not to eat in the warehouse as it attracts mice. Fender surreptitiously shoos the mouse away.

In his workshop, Morry bemoans the decline of his profession while working on Fender's coat. Fender pays him a visit to see how it's coming along. He tries it on and fantasises about impressing people with it. Morry asks for a couple of pounds on account. Fender chides him for his fondness for brandy.

Ranting asks Fender whether he has an insurance policy to cover his retirement. Fender realises that this is a loaded question.

Morry returns to his workshop to find Fender waiting for him. Fender tells him of a dream he has of the overcoat with bowls of soup in the pockets. Morry offers him a brandy. Fender tells him that he's been fired from the warehouse, and he has no alternative but to cancel the coat. Morry says that he'll finish it anyway.

Fender lies on his bed, wheezing and reminiscing about being sacked. He wonders whether he has any surviving family to call on for support. His rambling grows increasingly indistinct.

Fender tells Morry that that's how he died, and thanks him for the overcoat, which he retrieved from the top of the coffin. He's happy with it, but feels that he needs one of Ranting's sheepskin coats to be completely satisfied. Morry says that they should break into the warehouse and steal one.

By the side of the warebouse, Fender offers Morry a leg-up to the window, but Morry challenges him to walk through the wall. Fender says he'd prefer to use the door. Inside the warehouse, they find the overcoats and examine them. Fender finds his beloved sheepskin coat. Morry criticises the workmanship, but Fender explains that he must have a coat specifically from Ranting. Fender thanks Morry for his help and leaves. Morry is reluctant to see him go, and assures him that he always did his best - but his face suggests otherwise.

Back in his workshop, Morry dons a skullcap and recites a Jewish prayer.