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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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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! See more »

Genres:

Comedy

Certificate:

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Details

Country:

Language:

Release Date:

31 October 1960 (Sweden)  »

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 viewer twice sees a close up of a bottle of whiskey, for which Quill has a weakness. Unusually it is not a prop label but a bottle of a genuine mainstream brand, Dewars. There was surely no question of product placement as Quill is clearly shown to have a drink problem. See more »

Goofs

When Mrs Fazackalee tells Matt Carter that she "can't tolerate Mr Quill", her position changes between shots, from close to the desk to being near the middle of the room. See more »

Quotes

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 »

Connections

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

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User Reviews

 
A comedy which is truer to life than some may imagine.
7 January 2000 | by (Surrey, England) – See all my reviews

The younger generation of filmgoers, used to the antiseptic cleanliness of the multiplexes, may not realise that "fleapits" like the Bijou in "The Smallest Show On Earth" did actually exist in post-war Britain. Starved of resources during the war and with restrictions on non-essential building in force until the mid fifties, many small cinemas were in a very sorry state with broken seats, threadbare carpets, antiquated projection equipment and even torn and patched screens.

It is against this background that this charming comedy is set with wonderfully eccentric characters played by Peter Sellers, Margaret Rutherford and Bernard Miles.

The principal character is, however, the Bijou itself. This was a set, the exterior having been temporarily constructed between two railway bridges in Kilburn, a London suburb. The rival cinema, the Grand, was, in fact, a real cinema - the Gaumont at Hammersmith, also a London suburb. If you look closely, it is possible to see that the new name is rather clumsily superimposed.

To someone brought up in the fifties, this film brings back fond memories. To the younger viewers it gives an intriguing glimpse into the past by showing a way of life gone forever.


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