HOME |  CULT MOVIES | COMPETITIONS | ADVERTISE |  CONTACT US |  ABOUT US
 
 
 
Newest Reviews
Annette
Shepherd
Dying to Divorce
Bad Luck Banging or Loony Porn
Trouble with Being Born, The
Last Matinee, The
Strings, The
Free Hand for a Tough Cop
People Just Do Nothing: Big in Japan
Dear Future Children
Accidental Luxuriance of the Translucent Watery Rebus
Swallow
Thin Red Line, The
Petite Maman
Fast & Furious 9
Sundown: The Vampire in Retreat
Sweet Thing
Maelstrom
Father, The
Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings
Night House, The
Father of Flies
80,000 Years Old
Dead & Beautiful
Bull
Censor
Sleep
Freaky
Nightbooks
Whisker Away, A
Wild Indian
Whale Island
Chuck Steel: Night of the Trampires
Don't Breathe 2
Closing Time
Cryptozoo
Weathering with You
Rim of the World
Love & Basketball
JLA Adventures: Trapped in Time
   
 
Newest Articles
The Punk Rock Movie: Out of the Blue on Blu-ray
Yeah, Too Quiet: The Great Silence on Blu-ray
Vestron Double Bill: Dementia 13 and The Wraith
Farewell Dean Stockwell: His Years of Weirdness
Kung Fu Craft: Cinematic Vengeance! on Blu-ray
999 Letsbe Avenue: Gideon's Way on Blu-ray
Hungary for Cartoons: Hungarian Animations on MUBI
You Have No Choice: Invasion of the Body Snatchers on Blu-ray
You Can't Tame What's Meant to Be Wild: The Howling on Blu-ray
Commendably Brief: Short Sharp Shocks Vol. 2 on Blu-ray
Super Silents: Early Universal Vol. 2 on Blu-ray
Fable Fear: The Singing Ringing Tree on Blu-ray
Gunsight Eyes: The Sabata Trilogy on Blu-ray
Bloody Bastard Baby: The Monster/I Don't Want to Be Born on Blu-ray
Night of the Animated Dead: Director Jason Axinn Interview
The ParaPod: A Very British Ghost Hunt - Interview with Director/Star Ian Boldsworth
On the Right Track: Best of British Transport Films Vol. 2
The Guns of Nutty Joan: Johnny Guitar on Blu-ray
Intercourse Between Two Worlds: Twin Peaks Fire Walk with Me/The Missing Pieces on Blu-ray
Enjoy the Silents: Early Universal Vol. 1 on Blu-ray
Masterful: The Servant on Blu-ray
70s Sitcom Dads: Bless This House and Father Dear Father on Blu-ray
Going Under: Deep Cover on Blu-ray
Child's Play: Children's Film Foundation Bumper Box Vol. 3 on DVD
Poetry and Motion: Great Noises That Fill the Air on DVD
   
 
  Smallest Show on Earth, The Make It In The Movies
Year: 1957
Director: Basil Dearden
Stars: Bill Travers, Virginia McKenna, Margaret Rutherford, Peter Sellers, Bernard Miles, Francis De Wolff, Leslie Phillips, June Cunningham, Sid James, George Cross, George Cormack, Stringer Davis, Michael Corcoran
Genre: ComedyBuy from Amazon
Rating:  6 (from 1 vote)
Review: Matt (Bill Travers) is a struggling novelist halfway through his latest work when his wife Jean (Virginia McKenna) hands him an item of mail that has arrived that morning. It's a letter from a solicitor saying that Matt's great uncle has died and left him an inheritance, so he gets on the telephone right away to find out what it is. It turns out to be a cinema in Sloughborough, and after catching the train there, Matt and Jean stop the taxi they're in to get out and admire the Grand, a lavish picture palace they assume is now theirs. The commissionaire may insult them outside but they don't care: think of how much money they now own! However, when they get to the offices of the solicitor (Leslie Phillips) he has some unexpected news for them...

In these days where there are hardly any single or double screen cinemas left in Britain, and the entertainment companies are only interested in multiplexes with umpteen screens, The Smallest Show on Earth has an extra sheen of nostalgia to it. Scripted by William Rose and John Eldridge, it sees its nice young couple go into the motion picture business, albeit in a particularly lowly manner, as the cinema Matt has inherited is not the Grand, which they have been told is the only one in town, but another, distinctly rundown establishment called the Bijou Kinema, but better known locally as "The Fleapit".

The owner of The Grand is one Mr Hardcastle (Francis De Wolff), a no nonsense businessman who wanted to buy the Bijou for an entrance to the car park he is planning. He initially offered Matt's great uncle five thousand pounds for it, but now his offer has dropped to seven hundred and fifty which barely covers the debts. However, the solicitor has a brainwave: why not pretend to be re-opening the Bijou as competition to put up Hardcastle's asking price? There is a human element to all this, that being a trio of venerable character actors, one at the blossoming of his career, who play the elderly staff wanting to keep their jobs.

Peter Sellers plays Mr Quill, the projectionist who is overfond of a drink or three, but vows never to touch another drop as long as he works there, so inspired is he by Matt and Jean. Then there's Mrs Fazackelee, the inimitable Margaret Rutherford, who works in the ticket booth and used to play the organ for the silent pictures, and Old Tom (nobody knows his full name), played by Bernard Miles, the caretaker who unfortunately overhears Matt, Jean and the solicitor talking about their plans. The crestfallen Tom gives the game away to The Grand's commissionaire who he meets in the pub, and of course the Bijou has to open for real.

The humour is best described as gentle, and the funnier characters do tend to be nudged out the way for more screen time with the nice young couple, but the rendering of an old cinema circa 1957 is very entertaining. There's a train track close by which interrupts the showings with its locomotives jolting along and its station anouncements, forcing Mr Quill to hang onto the projector for dear life. And that projector has a habit of breaking down, with accompanying catcalls from the audience. Matt decides they need an attractive girl to sell the refreshments (June Cunningham) and so increase the takings, especially paired with a film about the desert and the heating turned all the way up. All this detail is very engaging, making the curious "crime does pay" ending all the more offputting, but for the most part The Smallest Show on Earth has plenty of quaint appeal. Music by William Alwyn.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark

 

This review has been viewed 6265 time(s).

As a member you could Rate this film

 

Basil Dearden  (1911 - 1971)

Dependable British director who began his film career working on Will Hay comedies like My Learned Friend, then moved onto a range of drama and comedy: a segment of classic horror Dead of Night, important crime film The Blue Lamp, The Smallest Show on Earth, excellent heist story The League of Gentlemen, social issues film Victim, action spectaculars Khartoum and The Assassination Bureau and quirky horror The Man Who Haunted Himself. Sadly, Dearden died in a car crash.

 
Review Comments (0)


Untitled 1

Login
  Username:
 
  Password:
 
   
 
Forgotten your details? Enter email address in Username box and click Reminder. Your details will be emailed to you.
   

Latest Poll
Which star probably has psychic powers?
Laurence Fishburne
Nicolas Cage
Anya Taylor-Joy
Patrick Stewart
Sissy Spacek
Michelle Yeoh
Aubrey Plaza
Tom Cruise
Beatrice Dalle
Michael Ironside
   
 
   

Recent Visitors
Graeme Clark
Darren Jones
Andrew Pragasam
Jason Cook
Enoch Sneed
  Desbris M
  Paul Tuersley
  Chris Garbutt
   

 

Last Updated: