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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.

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Writers:

(screenplay), (screenplay)
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Nominated for 1 BAFTA Film Award. See more awards »
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Cast

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 ...
Commissionaire
George Cormack ...
Bell
Stringer Davis ...
Emmett
Michael Corcoran ...
Taxi Driver
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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

Taglines:

The Funniest Show on Earth!

Genres:

Comedy

Certificate:

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Details

Country:

Language:

Release Date:

16 March 1962 (Finland)  »

Also Known As:

Big Time Operators  »

Company Credits

Production Co:

 »
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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

(Westrex Recording System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.75 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

The scenes of "Comin' Thro' the Rye" (1923) with Margaret Rutherford at the piano show Alma Taylor and Shayle Gardner. The film was directed by Cecil Hepworth and still exists. 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

Featured in A Bit of Scarlet (1997) See more »

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User Reviews

 
Have a good scratch...and watch it!
28 August 2006 | by See all my reviews

Husband-and-wife team Bill Travers and Virginia McKenna play a newly married couple who inherit a dilapidated cinema (and its elderly, incompetent and equally dilapidated staff), and try to restore it to something like it's original glory. However they soon discover that it's not going to be as easy as perhaps they first thought. There is competition from a huge modern cinema just across the street, which is in need of a car-park. The site of the old "Bijou" would be just the thing.

This is a terrific comedy (written by Basil Dearden), and features Peter Sellers, Margaret Rutherford, Bernard Miles as the cinema staff, and Leslie Phillips as the Bijou owner's solicitor.

Any American, or indeed any youngster, watching this movie might be slightly bemused, and consider it all a bit implausible. I can tell them that it's not, and so can any Brit over a certain age. When this film was made, every town in the UK had a "flea-pit" (i.e. it's very own "Bijou"). In the town in which I was raised, it was called "The Select".

Events depicted in this movie happened at these cinemas on a regular basis. The films shown were usually as decrepit as the cinema itself. (In the case of the "Select" they were usually the awful B&W "horror" movies which no other theatre would show. If the film didn't break at least once, or a reel was put on the projector in time, and/or was not in the wrong order, you were there on a lucky night.) For all of us of the age, to re-watch this little memorial to the old flea-pit, is a real nostalgic blast from the past, and I defy any newcomers to the movie, not to warm to it, either from it's occasional pathos and/or it's hilarious comedy. So go on, take my advice, have a good scratch, and watch it. The film may be fiction, but what you see actually happened!


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