“We’ve got to make the Bijou the best little cinema in this part of the country!”
When a writer (Bill Travers) and his wife (Virginia McKenna) inherit a rundown cinema (the Bijou) previously manned by three aging employees — a doorman (Bernard Miles), a ticket-taker (Margaret Rutherford), and a tippling projectionist (Peter Sellers) — they attempt to turn it into a going concern in order to convince their competitor (Francis De Wolff) to buy them out.
Genres, Themes, Actors, and Directors:
- Margaret Rutherford Films
- Peter Sellers Films
Film fanatics will surely be inherently drawn to the subject matter of this comedy about a young couple trying to revive an ailing independent cinema house (which shows nothing but westerns!). Unfortunately, while there are some genuinely charming moments scattered throughout — and one definitely gains a renewed appreciation for the skill involved in running a movie theater — the storyline itself never really takes off, making this a good-natured situation comedy with much potential but too little pay-off. Once the central conflict is established — McKenna and Travers must convince De Wolff that they’re serious in their commitment to running the Bijou — all that’s left is to watch our intrepid cast attempt to make a go of things; but their antics are mildly amusing at best. Meanwhile, none of the three “elderly” characters — played by cinematic favorites Sellers, Rutherford, and a nearly-indistinguishable Miles — are sufficiently developed (or given enough screentime):
… and the understated denouement is surprisingly discomfiting.
Redeeming Qualities and Moments:
- An amusing look at the challenges of running an independent cinema house
No, though it’s worth a look, and will likely be endearing to most film fanatics, given its subject matter. Listed as a Sleeper in the back of Peary’s book.