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The Smallest Show on Earth Details


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 Bernard Miles. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi

  • Release date:November 22, 1957


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
Bernard Miles
as Old Tom
June Cunningham
as Marlene Hogg
Sidney James
as Mr. Hogg
Sam Kydd
George Cormack
as Bell
Stringer Davis
as Emmett
George Cormack
as Bell


Basil Dearden
Michael Relph
Sidney Gilliat
Frank Launder
Douglas Slocombe
Muir Mathieson
Musical Direction/Supervision
William Alwyn
Composer (Music Score)
Oswald Hafenrichter
Allan Harris
Art Director
Leslie Gilliat
Associate Producer
Anthony Mendleson
Costume Designer
Wally Veevers
Special Effects
Jeff Seaholme
Camera Operator
Harry Frampton