7.1/10
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Big Time Operators (1957)

The Smallest Show on Earth (original title)
Not Rated | | Comedy | 31 October 1960 (Sweden)
A young couple inherits a debt-ridden old movie theater, appropriately nicknamed "The Flea Pit," and the three eccentric senior citizens who work there.

Director:

Basil Dearden

Writers:

William Rose (original story), John Eldridge (screenplay)
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Nominated for 1 BAFTA Film Award. See more awards »

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Cast

Complete credited cast:
Virginia McKenna ... Jean Spenser
Bill Travers ... Matt Spenser
Margaret Rutherford ... Mrs. Fazackalee
Peter Sellers ... Mr. Percy Quill
Bernard Miles ... Old Tom
Francis De Wolff Francis De Wolff ... Albert Hardcastle (as Francis de Wolff)
Leslie Phillips ... Robin Carter
June Cunningham ... Marlene Hogg
Sidney James ... Mr. Hogg
George Cross George Cross ... Grand Commissionaire
George Cormack George Cormack ... Sam Bell
Stringer Davis Stringer Davis ... Fred Emmett
Michael Corcoran 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:

A Bonanza of British Belly Laughs See more »

Genres:

Comedy

Certificate:

Not Rated | See all certifications »
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Details

Country:

UK

Language:

English

Release Date:

31 October 1960 (Sweden) See more »

Also Known As:

Big Time Operators See more »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono (Westrex Recording System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.75 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Silent star Alma Taylor can be seen sitting behind Bill Travers and Virginia McKenna at The Grand. A few minutes later at the Bijou she is shown in the silent film Comin' Thro the Rye (1923) with Margaret Rutherford at the piano. See more »

Goofs

In the scene where Matt is repairing the sign on the kinema's roof, there is a cut to a long shot of the train passing, but he is not on the roof. We then return to the previous shot of him on the roof. 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

References The Snake Pit (1948) See more »

Soundtracks

God Save the Queen
(uncredited)
trad.
See more »

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User Reviews

 
Some good laugh-out-loud scenes make this a great small film.
21 August 1999 | by Doug PhillipsSee all my reviews

A delightful story of a young couple that inherit The Bijou -- a broken down movie theater -- and against their wishes make a go of it.

Virginia McKenna and Bill Travers play Jean and Matt -- the young couple.

I was familiar with Ms McKenna's work but Bill Travers was new to me.

He has a wonderful Laurence Olivier air about him and is very appealing as an actor. His only other film that I am at all familiar with was "Born Free."

I was half way through the film before I realized that Percy Quill the projectionist with a drinking problem was Peter Sellers. Even though he was about 32 when the film was released he plays a little old man -- and superbly.

The wonderful character actress Margaret Rutherford, who made a career out of playing Miss Marple, is absolutely enchanting as the somewhat dotty Mrs. Fazackalee.

Why are old, somewhat crazy men in British films always named Tom? For whatever reason, Bernard Mills as Old Tom is quite a piece of work. A tendency to take things a little to literally is what drives his character -- that and the fact he is pretty much nuts.

It seems like many British films from this period look very much like filmed plays -- which this movie very definitely did.

Unfortunately the print that I saw for this film was in nearly as bad a shape as the movies being shown at "The Bijou." A good reason for more and better film restoration -- even for the films that we do not always think of as classics.


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