The Smallest Show on Earth Movie Review Summary

Actors: Bill Travers, Virginia McKenna, Margaret Rutherford, Peter Sellers, Bernard Miles, Francis De Wolff

Detailed plot synopsis reviews of The Smallest Show on Earth

Matt and Jean Spencer (Bill Travers and Virginia McKenna) are thrilled when a letter arrives with fortunate and unfortunate news. It seems that Matt's long lost great Uncle Simon has passed away leaving Matt his entire estate including a cinema. Without hesitation the excited couple phone the attorney of record and set up an appointment to see him right away. In no time they are headed out on the train dreaming of all of the exotic places they will visit with the money.
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As they step off they train, they are greeted by the raucous smell of a glue factory which is the towns main industry. The taxi driver graciously helps them into the cab and heads for the lawyer's office. On they way, the pass the beautiful Grand Cinema. Upon questioning the driver, they find out that this is the only cinema in town. They stop to take a look and can't believe their great luck as the place is huge!

Their joy soon turns to shock as they meet with Robin (Leslie Phillips), who explains to them Uncle Simon's theater is called the Bijou and it is a broken down old rat trap. The two are not discouraged as he tells them the owner of The Grand formerly made the deceased uncle an offer of $5000 pounds to sell out. His intention was to tear the place down and make a new parking lot. The attorney agrees to set up a meeting to help the couple sell and Hard castle (Francis De Wolff), the theater magnate agrees. To add insult to injury, they find out that the only offer standing is that of $750 pounds. Of course they turn it down flat but in doing so, they devise a plan to increase the offer by creating an air of competition. They plan to spread a rumor that they will reopen The Bijou hoping this will do the trick.

The couple visit their newly inherited business stake and observe that it is much worse than they thought. Not only is the place rat infested, the equipment is ancient, the place is filthy and the former staff are a little more than eccentric. Worst of all, it appears that old Uncle Simon used to barter his tickets for chickens and pork chops. Still determined to give it their best shot, Matt and Jean introduce themselves to the new old staff. Old Mrs. Fazackalee (Margaret Rutherford) is the bookkeeping cashier who was having an affair with the sly old uncle. She has been on staff since she was a sweet young thing and even played the piano during the silent films. Then there is Mr. Quill (Peter Sellers), the resident projectionist who has a fondness for the drink. Only problem is that the equipment is as eccentric as he is and only he knows how to run it. Last but not least is Old Tom (Bernard Miles) who multitasks as the janitor, maintenance man, doorman, ticket taker and usher. His true obsession is to get an official uniform like the doorman at The Grand. The wary but hopeful couple enlist the help of this misfit crew and begin the restoration of business.

Hardcastle and his partners are beginning to feel a little heat as the appearance of the old cinema improves. They are preparing to make a larger offer when Old Tom overhears the true plan is not to reopen but to sell out. In his depressed state he wanders down to the local pub and just so happens to sit next to the doorman of the other theater. He spills the truth about the scheme and the doorman heads straight for his boss's office to tell the tale.

Infuriated and now aware, Hardcastle pulls all but the original offer off the table. They couple have sunk too much into the theater already and have no choice but to reopen. They are making a true go of it and really do begin to make a dent in the business of the larger theater. They even add a bit of dramatics such as turning up the heat during a desert scene and adding a pretty ice cream girl to sell goodies in the aisle.

All is working out great until Hardcastle and his partners begin to fell too much pressure. They get down and dirty by tempting Mr. Quill with a bottle of drink that he'd sworn off of. At first he does the right thing and places it in the first aide cabinet. As things heat up during one of those desert scenes, he breaks down and goes for the bottle. This is the beginning of the end as Matt tries to run the projector and blows it up. Meanwhile, Jean's visit to the doctor introduces new light to the situation. She is going to have the couple's first child. Matt refuses to put her through any further stress and decides to give up. In a meeting with the attorney, he makes a few comments not to be taken seriously by the sound of mind. Well, Old Tom isn't playing will a full deck and does take what he overhears seriously.
The review of this Movie prepared by Talea

Script Analysis of The Smallest Show on Earth

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Plot & Themes

Time/era of movie:    -   1930's-1950's Job/Profession/Poverty Story?    -   Yes Job:    -   businessman, saving a faltering

Main Character

Identity:    -   Male Profession/status:    -   writer Age:    -   20's-30's Ethnicity/Nationality    -   British


Europe    -   Yes European country:    -   England/UK Small town?    -   Yes Misc setting    -   theater

Writing Style

Accounts of torture and death?    -   no torture/death Any profanity?    -   None

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