IMDb > Big Time Operators (1957)
The Smallest Show on Earth
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Big Time Operators (1957) More at IMDbPro »The Smallest Show on Earth (original title)

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Overview

User Rating:
7.0/10   1,025 votes »
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Director:
Writers:
William Rose (screenplay)
John Eldridge (screenplay)
Contact:
View company contact information for Big Time Operators on IMDbPro.
Release Date:
16 March 1962 (Finland) See more »
Genre:
Plot:
A young couple inherits a debt-ridden old movie theater, appropriately nicknamed "The Flea Pit," and the three eccentric senior citizens who work there. Full summary » | Add synopsis »
Awards:
Nominated for BAFTA Film Award. See more »
User Reviews:
A very funny movie See more (31 total) »

Cast

  (in credits order) (verified as complete)

Virginia McKenna ... Jean Spenser

Bill Travers ... Matt Spenser
Margaret Rutherford ... Mrs. Fazackalee

Peter Sellers ... Percy Quill

Bernard Miles ... Old Tom
Francis De Wolff ... Albert Hardcastle

Leslie Phillips ... Robin Carter
June Cunningham ... Marlene Hogg
Sidney James ... Mr. Hogg
George Cross ... Commissionaire
George Cormack ... Bell
Stringer Davis ... Emmett
Michael Corcoran ... Taxi Driver
rest of cast listed alphabetically:
John Bush ... Cast Member (uncredited)
Marian Collins ... Ice-Cream Girl (uncredited)
Liz Fraser ... Girl in Cinema (uncredited)

Frazer Hines ... Cast Member (uncredited)
Billy Lawrence ... Cast Member (uncredited)
John Pike ... Cast Member (uncredited)
Lynne Roberts ... Cast Member (uncredited)
Michael Scoble ... Cast Member (uncredited)
Leslie Slysz ... Cast Member (uncredited)
The Blake Twins ... Cast Members (uncredited)
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Directed by
Basil Dearden 
 
Writing credits
William Rose (screenplay & original story)

John Eldridge (screenplay)

Produced by
Leslie Gilliat .... associate producer
Michael Relph .... producer
Sidney Gilliat .... executive producer (uncredited)
Frank Launder .... executive producer (uncredited)
 
Original Music by
William Alwyn 
 
Cinematography by
Douglas Slocombe 
 
Film Editing by
Oswald Hafenrichter 
 
Art Direction by
Allan Harris 
 
Costume Design by
Anthony Mendleson 
 
Makeup Department
Hilda Fox .... hair stylist
Harry Frampton .... makeup artist
 
Production Management
John Pellatt .... production manager
 
Second Unit Director or Assistant Director
Eddie Pike .... assistant director
John Meadows .... second assistant director (uncredited)
Claude Watson .... third assistant director (uncredited)
 
Art Department
John Earl .... draughtsman (uncredited)
Roy Walker .... draughtsman (uncredited)
 
Sound Department
Buster Ambler .... sound recordist
Arthur Cox .... dubbing editor
John Cox .... sound supervisor
Bob Jones .... sound recordist
John Aldred .... dubbing crew (uncredited)
Jimmy Dooley .... sound camera operator (uncredited)
Ken Ritchie .... boom operator (uncredited)
 
Special Effects by
Bob Cuff .... special effects (as R. Cuff)
Wally Veevers .... special effects
 
Visual Effects by
Bob Cuff .... matte painter (uncredited)
George Samuels .... special processes (uncredited)
 
Camera and Electrical Department
Jeff Seaholme .... camera operator
Paddy Aherne .... focus puller (uncredited)
Ron Drinkwater .... focus puller (uncredited)
Norman Hargood .... still photographer (uncredited)
 
Editorial Department
Guy Ambler .... second assistant editor (uncredited)
Alan Corder .... second assistant editor (uncredited)
Eileen Daines .... second assistant editor (uncredited)
Alban Streeter .... assistant editor (uncredited)
 
Music Department
Muir Mathieson .... conductor
 
Other crew
Jane Buck .... continuity
Sidney Gilliat .... presenter
Frank Launder .... presenter
 
Crew verified as complete


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Additional Details

Also Known As:
"The Smallest Show on Earth" - UK (original title)
See more »
Runtime:
80 min
Country:
Language:
Aspect Ratio:
1.37 : 1 See more »
Sound Mix:
Mono (Westrex Recording System)
Certification:

Did You Know?

Trivia:
Comin' Thro the Rye (1923) was not filmed just for this movie but was an actual Silent Classic directed by 'Cecil M Hepworth'.See more »
Goofs:
Continuity: At one point, Carter is talking to Matt Spenser with his hands by his side and the next shot shows Carter holding Matt by the arms.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 »
Movie Connections:

FAQ

This FAQ is empty. Add the first question.
38 out of 38 people found the following review useful.
A very funny movie, 29 November 2004
Author: pekinman from Illinois

I am happy to read all the kudos from other film buffs for this little gemstone of a movie. It will seem corny and boring to those brought up on Hollywood in the past 30 years but if they would open up their minds to dry humor and sweetness there is much to enjoy in 'The Smallest Show on Earth.' First off the cast are top-drawer English comedians that are now extinct, sadly. Margaret Rutherford, Bernard Miles and Peter Sellars crown the story with their three highly eccentric and touching portrayals of the old hands at The Bijou, better known as The Flea Pit, an old opera house turned "Kinema". Bernard Miles, especially, gives a highly subtle and often moving portrayal of an aging janitor who lives on for a new uniform. Nowadays he'd be tossed in a home to rot, suffering from "dementia" or some such thing the medical profession has created to niche people for more convenient disposal. But in the days of the making of this movie people like old Tom (Miles) were allowed to continue with their lives, dotty as could be, but happy and earning a living, happy with his cats and his new uniform.

The "straight" couple, the new owners of the Flea Pit, are wonderfully done by the very handsome and under-rated Bill Travers and his real-life wife Virginia McKenna. Travers had the timing sense of Cary Grant, and was much better looking into the bargain. At 6'6" tall he had an engagingly masculine yet vulnerable way about him. He and McKenna have some of the cornier lines and the jokiness can be a bit "eye-rolling" but aside from that period humor this movie is filled with a dry wit that has always been beyond the abilities of Hollywood screen-writers to pen.

There is one scene in particular that sticks in the mind. The three old hands are alone at night in the old theatre. A silent film is playing, Mrs Fazackalee (Rutherford) is at the tinny old piano in the orchestra pit, Old Tom (Miles) is sitting with his cat in the front row. Mr Quill (Sellars) is in the control booth. Only Sellars speaks briefly to the new owners as they arrive upon the scene, lost in the "old days" of the kinema. Just the sight of Rutherford at the piano improvising music to the old love story on the screen, and Miles and his cat in the front row is enough to evoke tears. Longing for lost innocence I suppose.

This movie is loaded with a high humor, no vulgarity, sex or profanity comes into it. A very memorable little film that is long overdue for release on DVD. I was lucky enough to find a good quality VHS copy at Facets in Chicago in case anyone's had trouble rounding up a copy. An excellent miniature masterpiece portraying a more innocent and lovely period of time in our benighted 20th century.

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Message Boards

Discuss this movie with other users on IMDb message board for Big Time Operators (1957)
Recent Posts (updated daily)User
peter sellers old?? kateyk12
Goofs ? Greenman58
No Margaret Rutherford Near the End? smthdonovan
Bill Travers jeremy3
Did the couple come from north Wales? jeremy3
Check out the DVD mam13143
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