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Big Time (1988)

Bringing his unique sense of humor to this bizarre and original piece of moviemaking, Tom Waits takes the audience through a musical journey with his jazzy, quirky, bluesy tunes presented ... See full summary »


Chris Blum


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Credited cast:
Tom Waits ... Himself
Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Michael L. Blair Michael L. Blair ... Musician
Ralph Carney Ralph Carney ... Musician
Greg Cohen ... Musician
Marc Ribot Marc Ribot ... Musician
Willie Schwarz Willie Schwarz ... Musician


Bringing his unique sense of humor to this bizarre and original piece of moviemaking, Tom Waits takes the audience through a musical journey with his jazzy, quirky, bluesy tunes presented as you would never, ever, ever expect. Written by Sam Hayes <gshayes@mail.gwi.net>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


The concert was "the best live performance of the year." The movie is BIG TIME.


Documentary | Music


PG | See all certifications »






Release Date:

20 October 1988 (Netherlands) See more »

Also Known As:

Big Time See more »

Filming Locations:

Los Angeles, California, USA See more »


Box Office

Gross USA:

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Company Credits

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:




Aspect Ratio:

1.66 : 1
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Did You Know?


Tom Waits: Things got a little snooty downtown here today. I was on one those streets that, you know, you know the ones. Okay? I walked into a hotel, I knew somebody stayed in the hotel. I walked into the hotel. I said, "Listen, could you direct me to the elevators?" The guy said, "You mean, the elevators to the rooms?" I said, "No, the elevator to Hell. Of course I mean the elevators to the rooms!"
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User Reviews

to quote the man hissef "beautiful maladies"
28 October 2005 | by johatzSee all my reviews

There is a brilliance in the seemingly unintentional fluidity of the music is Waits' power. It is theatrically awful, in the sense that it includes music that is interesting in its ferocity and its failures but also exists as a remodeling of what is tangible about consciously produced sound. It is music, undeniably, it is watching MTV in the mid eighties through a dirty window in a smoke filled room with an obese man dancing and singing along. It is an event, a living process and a benevolent cultural tumor. See it. Allow it. Learn.

I grew aware of a certain truth that is unrelated to reality. The truth of a person. Tom Waits is an instrument of himself. He has fashioned a persona that is so real, and simultaneously so fantastical that it cannot be fraudulent. His presence is haunting, human entirely aware and yet still skewed. His music is that of perspectives. Each note, of each strange instrument carries its own voice. The collective whole does not then become an singly integrated piece but a turbulent chorus of voices and desires. It's as though the instruments are arguing about which direction they are going and in their argument become the songs, the melodies, as though they had no intention of doing so but happened to. There is no good excuse that his music has not prevented trifling, logical and in-specific pop music. I blame myself.

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