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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 <email@example.com>
A comedy which is truer to life than some may imagine.
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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