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Big Night (1996)

R  |   |  Drama  |  20 September 1996 (USA)
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Ratings: 7.4/10 from 12,199 users   Metascore: 80/100
Reviews: 81 user | 51 critic | 23 from

A failing Italian restaurant run by two brothers gambles on one special night to try to save the business.

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Cast overview, first billed only:
Larry Block ...
Man in Restaurant
Woman in Restaurant
Andre Belgrader ...
Stash (as Andrei Belgrader)
Loan Officer
Pasquale Cajano ...
Alberto N. Pisani
Woman Singer


Primo and Secondo are two brothers who have emigrated from Italy to open an Italian restaurant in America. Primo is the irascible and gifted chef, brilliant in his culinary genius, but determined not to squander his talent on making the routine dishes that customers expect. Secondo is the smooth front-man, trying to keep the restaurant financially afloat, despite few patrons other than a poor artist who pays with his paintings. The owner of the nearby Pascal's restaurant, enormously successful (despite its mediocre fare), offers a solution - he will call his friend, a big-time jazz musician, to play a special benefit at their restaurant. Primo begins to prepare his masterpiece, a feast of a lifetime, for the brothers' big night... Written by Tad Dibbern <>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


In love and life, one big night can change everything.



Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for language | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:






Release Date:

20 September 1996 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Big Night - italialainen ilta  »

Box Office


$4,100,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend:

$185,942 (USA) (20 September 1996)


ITL 763,505,000 (Italy) (11 April 1997)

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:



Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


Shot over a period of 35 days. See more »


In the final scene of the "big night" dinner the wine bottles across the table and in the kitchen with Secondo all have the trademark pink DOCG label on the bottle stem. The DOCG pink label was released in Italy only in the 1990s; the movie is set in the 1950s. See more »


[first lines]
Primo: [offers a taste asking opinion in Italian]
Secondo: What?
Primo: More Salt?
Secondo: No.
[continues chopping]
Primo: Not too fine, eh? Sometimes you cut it too fine, then all you taste is the garlic!
See more »


Referenced in An Italian Christmas with Mario and Giada (2004) See more »


Tic Ti, Tic Ta
Written by Larna and Feola
Performed by Claudio Villa
See more »

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User Reviews

big hit
30 June 1999 | by See all my reviews

This is an excellent little movie which looks like it's about food but is actually about the search for success, the striving for excellence in a crass and uncaring world, and brotherly devotion. Two Italian brothers run a little restaurant serving superb food as a labor of love, but it's failing, in contrast to the wildly successful spaghetti emporium down the street with execrable food but which is raking in the big bucks. The story line - set in the late 50's U.S.A. - is paper thin, but the movie is populated with interesting, likable people and the tale is lovingly told with an excellent script and superb acting all around, especially from the two brothers and from Ian Holm, the British actor, who does an unexpectedly great job as the owner of the red sauce place (Ian Holm playing an Italian? Yes, stunningly). Caring seriously about food does help one to appreciate this flick; I have never seen the preparation and serving of food presented so beautifully and lovingly in a movie. The final, wordless scene, in which a simple omelette is prepared and the brothers express their reconciliation, is, for me, one of the most eloquently poetic codas I have ever seen. This is a warm-hearted movie with a great deal of humor that rates an A+.

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