The Smallest Show on Earth

The Smallest Show on Earth

Director: Basil Dearden Cast: Bill Travers, Virginia McKenna, Leslie Phillips

DVD (Wide Screen / Black & White)


Basil Dearden's The Smallest Show On Earth (1957), which appeared in a number of unauthorized VHS editions during the 1980's, finally arrives on American shores in a worthy home viewing version with the Anchor Bay DVD. It may still lack a little luster -- it is a 45 year old movie that wasn't the object of a major presentation effort -- but the DVD runs circles around any prior video edition that this reviewer has seen, and that's quite a few. The picture, black-and-white and letterboxed with an aspect ratio of 1.66-to-1, has deep contrasts and lots of detail, and is transferred well enough so that the horizontal lines in the apron worn by Virginia McKenna in the opening scene flow together and shimmer. The letterboxing does wonders for Douglas Slocombe's cinematography and also for Dearden's direction, imparting a balletic feel to the camera movements in that same opening sequence, and the visual delights of this disc extend to the wittily designed menu -- which opens automatically on start-up -- and just about every corner of the picture, especially once we get to the broken down theater inherited by McKenna and her spouse (played by Bill Travers). The audio is excellent, bringing out every nuance of the dialogue and the exquisite details of William Alwyn's charming score. One only wishes that there were a trailer to be included on this disc, but that's a minor shortcoming. The 21 chapter are well chosen and very generous for an 80 minute movie. As with Carlton Browne of the F.O., this disc appears as part of Anchor Bay's Peter Sellers Collection, and as in the case of that movie, Sellers' work is more in the nature of an extremely prominent supporting performance than as the actual "star" of the movie.

Product Details

Release Date: 01/21/2003
UPC: 0013131193596
Original Release: 1957
Rating: NR
Source: Starz / Anchor Bay
Region Code: 1
Presentation: [B&W, Wide Screen]
Sound: [Dolby Digital Mono]
Time: 1:20:00

Special Features

Closed Caption; Widescreen presentation (1.66:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs; Peter Sellers bio

Cast & Crew

Performance Credits
Bill Travers Matt Spenser
Virginia McKenna Jean Spenser
Leslie Phillips Robin Carter
Peter Sellers Percy Quill
Margaret Rutherford Mrs. Fazackalee
Bernard Miles Old Tom
Francis de Wolff Hardcastle
June Cunningham Marlene Hogg
Sidney James Mr. Hogg
Sam Kydd Actor
George Cross Commissioner
George Cormack Bell
Stringer Davis Emmett
Michael Corcoran Taxi Driver

Technical Credits
Basil Dearden Director
William Alwyn Score Composer
John Eldridge Screenwriter
Harry Frampton Makeup
Leslie Gilliat Associate Producer
Sidney Gilliat Producer
Oswald Hafenrichter Editor
Allan Harris Art Director
Frank Launder Producer
Muir Mathieson Musical Direction/Supervision
Anthony Mendleson Costumes/Costume Designer
John Pellatt Production Manager
Michael Relph Producer
William Rose Screenwriter
Jeff Seaholme Camera Operator
Douglas Slocombe Cinematographer
Wally Veevers Special Effects

Scene Index

Side #1 --
1. Program Start/Main Titles [1:53]
2. The Letter [3:30]
3. New Town [3:23]
4. Inheritance [2:22]
5. The Bijou [4:57]
6. A Very Sentimental Man [4:25]
7. Meeting the Staff [5:12]
8. The Queer Mr. Quill [4:19]
9. Anxious Buyer [4:26]
10. Second Thoughts [3:50]
11. Loyalty [2:52]
12. Grand Re-Opening [2:57]
13. Train Trouble [7:09]
14. The Ice Cream Girl [4:33]
15. Sweet Smell of Success [3:56]
16. Hardcastle's Scheme [4:00]
17. The Show Must Go On [7:17]
18. Pregnant Pause [2:40]
19. Fire Sale [3:33]
20. Fond Farewell [2:24]
21. End Credits [:28]

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