MOVIEmeter
SEE RANK
Down 262 this week

Big Time Operators (1957)
"The Smallest Show on Earth" (original title)

7.0
Your rating:
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 -/10 X  
Ratings: 7.0/10 from 1,026 users  
Reviews: 31 user | 17 critic

A young couple inherits a debt-ridden old movie theater, appropriately nicknamed "The Flea Pit," and the three eccentric senior citizens who work there.

Director:

Writers:

(screenplay), (screenplay)
0Check in
0Share...

Watch Now

with Prime Instant Video + 1 more

Editors' Spotlight

Venice Film Festival

See the latest from the 2014 Venice Film Festival


User Lists

Related lists from IMDb users

a list of 106 titles
created 20 Oct 2010
 
a list of 356 titles
created 02 Jan 2012
 
list image
a list of 48 titles
created 10 months ago
 
a list of 27 titles
created 9 months ago
 
a list of 50 titles
created 3 weeks ago
 

Related Items


Connect with IMDb


Share this Rating

Title: Big Time Operators (1957)

Big Time Operators (1957) on IMDb 7/10

Want to share IMDb's rating on your own site? Use the HTML below.

Take The Quiz!

Test your knowledge of Big Time Operators.
Nominated for 1 BAFTA Film Award. See more awards »
Learn more

People who liked this also liked... 

Comedy
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.8/10 X  

A minister is accidentally appointed to a snobbish parish.

Directors: John Boulting, Roy Boulting
Stars: Peter Sellers, Cecil Parker, Isabel Jeans
Comedy | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.5/10 X  
Director: James Hill
Stars: Peter Sellers, Richard Attenborough, Beryl Reid
Comedy
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 4.8/10 X  

The cast of the popular radio program "The Goon Show" perform some of their favourite routines.

Director: Maclean Rogers
Stars: Harry Secombe, Michael Bentine, Spike Milligan
Comedy | Crime | Mystery
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.4/10 X  

When heavy fog prevents all aircraft from leaving London airport, a group of passengers take an airline bus to get them to an alternative airport. However, one among their number is the ... See full summary »

Director: Val Guest
Stars: Marianne Stone, Lionel Murton, Lisa Gastoni
Adventure | Comedy
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 4.9/10 X  

Anthony Hope's classic tale gets a decidedly 'un-classic' treatment at the hands of Peter Sellers. Following the story somewhat, friends of the new King Rudolph of Ruritania fear for his ... See full summary »

Director: Richard Quine
Stars: Peter Sellers, Lynne Frederick, Lionel Jeffries
After the Fox (1966)
Comedy | Crime
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.5/10 X  

Peter Sellers plays Aldo Vanucci (aka the Fox), one of the greatest criminals of the world, and master of disguise. After Aldo escapes from the Italian prison he was held in, he meets again... See full summary »

Director: Vittorio De Sica
Stars: Peter Sellers, Victor Mature, Britt Ekland
Comedy | Romance | War
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.1/10 X  

An impoverished backward nation declares a war on the United States of America, hoping to lose, but things don't go according to plan.

Director: Jack Arnold
Stars: Peter Sellers, Jean Seberg, William Hartnell
The Wrong Box (1966)
Adventure | Comedy | Crime
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.1/10 X  

In Victorian England, a fortune now depends on which of two brothers outlives the other... or can be made to have seemed to do so!

Director: Bryan Forbes
Stars: John Mills, Michael Caine, Ralph Richardson
Comedy | Musical | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 5.3/10 X  

Peter Weston is engaged to Vanessa Colebrook, the daughter of a wealthy businessman. On a journey home on a steamer he meets an old sea hand who shares with him how his wife won't let him ... See full summary »

Director: J. Lee Thompson
Stars: Donald Sinden, Jeannie Carson, James Robertson Justice
Adventure | Comedy
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.1/10 X  

A selection of passengers catch the plane from London for an early 1950's weekend in Paris. The Scotsman in his kilt, the elderly lady painter, the international negotiator, and the pretty ... See full summary »

Director: Gordon Parry
Stars: Alastair Sim, Ronald Shiner, Claire Bloom
Arabella (1967)
Certificate: M Comedy
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 5.7/10 X  

Virna Lisi is at her peak using her womanly wiles to seduce Terry-Thomas (in multiple roles) to aid her debt-ridden grandmother, Margaret Rutherford.

Director: Mauro Bolognini
Stars: Virna Lisi, James Fox, Margaret Rutherford
Aunt Clara (1954)
Comedy
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7/10 X  

A wealthy old man dies and leaves his holdings--including a brothel and a gambling den, racing greyhounds and a sleazy bar--to his eccentric Aunt Clara. Clara vows to "clean up" her new ... See full summary »

Director: Anthony Kimmins
Stars: Ronald Shiner, Margaret Rutherford, A.E. Matthews
Edit

Cast

Complete credited cast:
...
Jean Spenser
...
Matt Spenser
Margaret Rutherford ...
Mrs. Fazackalee
...
Percy Quill
...
Old Tom
Francis De Wolff ...
Albert Hardcastle
...
Robin Carter
June Cunningham ...
Marlene Hogg
Sidney James ...
Mr. Hogg
George Cross ...
Commissionaire
George Cormack ...
Bell
Stringer Davis ...
Emmett
Michael Corcoran ...
Taxi Driver
Edit

Storyline

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

Genres:

Comedy

Certificate:

See all certifications »
Edit

Details

Country:

Language:

Release Date:

16 March 1962 (Finland)  »

Also Known As:

Big Time Operators  »

Company Credits

Production Co:

 »
Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

(Westrex Recording System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See  »
Edit

Did You Know?

Trivia

The films shown at the Bijou (all fictional and presumably filmed just for this movie) are:
  • Killer Riders of Wyoming


  • The Mystery of Hell Valley


  • Devil Riders of Parched Point


See more »

Goofs

When Carter is told by the Spensers "We've seen the cinema", his glasses shift from his face to his hand in consecutive shots. See more »

Quotes

Hardcastle: A nice young couple like yourself, you've no business in this business. If you'd seen your great uncle what it did for him in the end! That old battle-ax Mrs. Fazackalee! I remember when she was a wee slip of a thing, pretty as a picture - a "B" picture, mind yuh!
[laughs]
See more »

Connections

References The Way of an Eagle (1918) See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

This FAQ is empty. Add the first question.

User Reviews

Charming, and a wonderful for lovers of theatres.
20 December 2002 | by (Milwaukee, Wis. USA) – See all my reviews

'THE SMALLEST SHOW ON EARTH' may not have been exactly that since there were certainly smaller, but it was a case of a fictional small "electric theatre" (the once British way of differentiating a movie theatre from a legitimate theatre or 'music hall,' as they designated their version of the American vaudeville). This delightful British film is as heart warming and sometimes hilarious as the other reviewers here describe, but it is the wonderful interaction between the story, the sets, and the actors that balance the film and make it a classic. This 19th century 'kinema' was styled in the manner of the traditional British 'music hall' of live performers, but held early projection equipment (hence the double entendre about projectionist Peter Sellers' 'equipment.') Such asides will be over the heads of the kiddies, but the pleasant pacing and careful dialogue of the actors will please the adults for whom this comedy is intended.

The story of a young couple inheriting a cinema and finding that it is not quite the money-maker they imagined would have been prosaic were it not for the clever settings and the three fossils who maintained the old "Bijou" (French for 'jewel'). If it were ever a jewel, it had lost its luster as the years passed and patrons flocked to the newer nearby movie palace, the "Grand." Desperate to keep their jobs, the 'fossils' (veteran scene-stealers: Peter Sellers, Margaret Rutherford, and Bernard Miles) took pains to refresh the old place to please new owner Bill Travers, a too seldom used actor of mild presence but uniquely suited to this role. The character of the Bijou's "commissionaire" (doorman, janitor, and boiler keeper) Miles in the end tries too hard and creates the only jarring note in the film, which is otherwise tender and memorable. The device of having latter day elevated trains roar past the cinema was inspired and created some memorable scenes, as when the building shakes to the slow start up of the train, or when Bill Travers' character is almost rattled off the ladder as he attempts to relight the old roof sign. There are many wonderful sight gags and other fine bits that one will long remember.

For those who also like old theatres, it may be of interest to know that the exterior of the Bijou was actually a set created at the meeting of two existing elevated train bridges on Christchurch Ave. at the Kilburn LT station in London. The interior was also a set, but so well done that you would swear that you were in a real 19th century 'opera house.' The design is thought to be derived from the real Palace of Varieties at Camberwell. The movie palace with the pipe organ - "the Grand" - was actually the Gaumont Palace (later the Odeon, now Apollo) in Hammersmith, London. And the use of the fictional name of "Sloughborough" for the town is another little joke since it means 'low place or mire.' These details can be confirmed in the journal of the British "Cinema Theatre Association's" magazine "PICTURE HOUSE," No. 19, Winter 93-94, pages 37 and 38, (where there are photos in this and the previous issue) furnished to this reviewer courtesy of Mr. Brian J. Hall of England.

One reviewer said that the only flaw was that the story was too short and I must concur in that, and that is the only real flaw I can find in the film as well. There is a difficulty, however, in appreciating the quality of the film from the most common versions of the VHS-NTSC format videos now available. IMDB/Amazon lists two ASIN numbers of versions made by the same French Canadian firm, Madacy, which produced them in EP speed, rather than the usual SP speed that allows for quality. Since Amazon never indicates the speed of a tape, I cannot tell if their third variation produced by 'VCI Classics (American Prudential)' is also in this slow speed of poor quality. Not only is the image poor, but the sound is downright difficult to understand! Amazon's sister company, The Internet Movie Data Base, now lists two CD versions about to be released, and we can but hope that they were made from restored masters and are the pleasure that the original film is.

P.S.: Two years before the movie "Majestic" (starring Jim Carrey) debuted, the director wrote on the THEATRE HISTORICAL SOCIETY'S web site that he was searching for information about historic theatres for his forthcoming unnamed movie. This reviewer responded with information and said that the description of it he gave sounded something like "The Smallest Show on Earth." He responded that he was amazed that anyone remembered the 1956 British film, but that it was indeed an inspiration for his movie. Look closely at the lobby in "Majestic" and you will see it clearly resembles that in the 'Bijou,' even if the facades were much different. These films turned out very differently, but at least the architecture rewards lovers of theatres


27 of 27 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

Message Boards

Recent Posts
Check out the DVD mam13143
peter sellers old?? kateyk12
feeling the inspiration Ultimate007
remake?... adamknox
Goofs ? Greenman58
Bill Travers jeremy3
Discuss Big Time Operators (1957) on the IMDb message boards »

Contribute to This Page

Create a character page for:
?