The Smallest Show on Earth (1957) - Rotten Tomatoes

The Smallest Show on Earth (1957)





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Movie Info

The Smallest Show on Earth is a gentle, frequently uproarious takeoff of Britain's neighborhood-cinema industry. Real-life husband and wife Bill Travers and Virginia McKenna star as Matt and Jean Spencer, a middle-class couple who inherit a decrepit movie house in a tiny railroad whistle stop. They also inherit the theater's ancient, doddering employees: bibulous ticket-taker Percy Quill (Peter Sellers), former silent-movie accompanist Mrs. Fazackalee (Margaret Rutherford) and doorman/janitor old Tom (Bernard Miles). Making the best of things, the Spencers set up shop going through the usual travails of small-time cinema owners: substandard projection and sound reproduction, a dismal selection of films (all they can afford is American B-Westerns), and sundry mishaps with the audience. Just when they're about to write off the theater as a loss, crafty old Tom comes up with an underhanded but effective method to allow the Spencers to make a huge profit on their shaky enterprise. Though chock full of entertaining vignettes, the best and most poignant scene in The Smallest Show on Earth finds the three elderly employees tearfully reveling in a nostalgic screening of the 1924 silent film Comin' Thro' the Rye. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi

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Bill Travers
as Matt Spenser
Virginia McKenna
as Jean Spenser
Leslie Phillips
as Robin Carter
Peter Sellers
as Percy Quill
Margaret Rutherford
as Mrs. Fazackalee
Francis De Wolff
as Hardcastle
June Cunningham
as Marlene Hogg
Sidney James
as Mr. Hogg
George Cross
as Commissioner
Michael Corcoran
as Taxi Driver
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Critic Reviews for The Smallest Show on Earth

All Critics (2)

Very much an ensemble piece, it relies heavily on sight gags and cinema business.

Full Review… | August 3, 2002
Eye for Film

Audience Reviews for The Smallest Show on Earth


A classic British comedy, this charming film follows a newlywed couple (Bill Travers and Virginia McKenna) as they encounter an unexpected inheritance to a run-down cinema. Its aged, devoted occupants -- a dotty old lady, a drunk projectionist, and a simple, ancient usher -- help bring the cinema to some small profit, despite continued malfunction. The characters make the picture; their charm shines. Watch for the scene the three older folks give themselves a silent picture treat. Such tenderness.

Carmela "inhonoredglory"

Delightful British comedy of a young couple inheriting a run down movie theatre run by some eccentric characters. Superb cast, very entertaining and well written.

James Higgins
James Higgins

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