34 user 17 critic

Big Time Operators (1957)

The Smallest Show on Earth (original title)
A young couple inherits a debt-ridden old movie theater, appropriately nicknamed "The Flea Pit," and the three eccentric senior citizens who work there.



(screenplay), (screenplay)

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Nominated for 1 BAFTA Film Award. See more awards »
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Complete credited cast:
Jean Spenser
Matt Spenser
Mrs. Fazackalee
Percy Quill
Old Tom
Francis De Wolff ...
Albert Hardcastle
Robin Carter
Marlene Hogg
Sidney James ...
Mr. Hogg
George Cross ...
George Cormack ...
Stringer Davis ...
Michael Corcoran ...
Taxi Driver


Jean and Bill are a struggling married couple with Bill trying to scrape a living as a writer. Out of the blue they receive a telegram informing them that Bill's long-lost uncle has died and left them his business - a cinema in the town of Sloughborough. They pack their bags and travel to Sloughborough expecting to sell the cinema to gain a huge inheritance, however, they discover the cinema is falling apart and is run by a comically incompetant staff who seem to have worked there forever. They set out with a plan to sell it but things don't quite go to plan. Written by Col Needham <col@imdb.com>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


The Funniest Show on Earth! See more »




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Release Date:

31 October 1960 (Sweden)  »

Also Known As:

Big Time Operators  »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

(Westrex Recording System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.75 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


The production insurers declined to cover Margaret Rutherford, so all her scenes were squeezed into seven days. See more »


When the Spensers and Carter are in the pub after the first meeting with Hardcastle, Carter has his glass in his right hand in the first shot, but is shown using his left hand to put the glass down on to the table in the next shot. See more »


Jean: [Reacting to seeing the inside of the theater and its employees for the first time] Flea pit? More like "The Snake Pit!"
See more »


References Guilty? (1956) See more »

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User Reviews

evocation of a long gone era
6 February 2006 | by (london) – See all my reviews

By some chance i watched this film yesterday morning,and in the afternoon i drove past the spot in Kilburn where the exterior had been constructed on my way to an organ concert at the Gaumont State Kilburn.I also passed the site of the Classic Kilburn,now a petrol station,which was the sort of cinema epitomised by "The Bijou".In the 1950s,when the film was made,there were a lot of cinemas,or flea pits as we called them like "The Bijou".Mainly surviving on revivals of old films.The Classic chain in particular.I loved these old cinemas,and although they were not as rundown as "the Bijou" they still had seen better days.Unfortunately many of these cinemas were located in high streets and thus were prime targets for the newly emerging phenomenon of supermarkets.So not only is this film a comedic masterpiece but to me it is a warm reminder of the passing of these marvelous places.

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