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Sam is an aging busker who barely meters out a minor living on the streets of London. His music hall days are long gone, and his old mutt Bella can barely work their crowd. If they manage a few coppers after a long day of performing, it makes the journey back to their dilapidated row house near a landfill less depressing. One day, Sam runs into Liz and Mark Ellis, two urchins looking to escape their poverty-stricken home life. While Mom is taking care of their baby sister, and Dad is working overtime in hopes of earning a council flat, the siblings share dreams of a life across the river. Taken by Bella, the duo eventually work their way into Sam's hardened heart. But when they can't afford a stray dog, and their parents won't pay attention to their needs, Liz and Mark ask the old man for help. What he provides will turn them from desperate and sad into something akin to Optimists. Even among the dirt and decay, they may have a future after all.
A definite product of its time, it's hard to imagine modern audiences cottoning to this collection of urban nightmares and flights of forced fantasy. After all, without action and adventure and plenty of CGI sparkle, it really isn't a family film, is it? But thanks to an amazing performance by Peter Sellers, who stands as a lamentably underappreciated dramatic actor, and a true sense of a pre-punk "No Future" UK, The Optimists easily earns a Recommended rating. Had it been sharper during its near two hour running time, had Anthony Simmons not indulged in every whim derived directly from his own tome, we'd have a certified classic on our hands. As it stands, this film is a considered cult gem, and further proof that there was more to Peter Sellers than slapstick fights with manservant Kato and gags about "Minkeys". If you want to know the true depth of the man's talents, this intriguing film is a fine place to start. --Bill Gibron of DVDTalk.com
Top Customer Reviews
The role of Sam, the busker (The Optimists' main character--not Fred as another reviewer wrote) is one that director and co-writer Anthony Simmons had originally intended for Buster Keaton in the early 1960s, and later John Mills, but when Mills suffered a broken leg for which the production company was unwilling to postpone, the project ground to a halt. Simmons then considered a pantheon of screen greats including Charles Laughton, Paul Scofield, Trevor Howard and Danny Kaye before shelving the idea that destiny had earmarked for Peter Sellers. Having successfully published The Optimists of Nine Elms (the film's original title) as a book, Simmons was content, for the time, to move on to other projects, not the least of which was the screen debut of Judi Dench in Four In The Morning.
Not even Sellers himself had knowledge when he took the role in the early 70s, that his name had been suggested to Simmons nearly a decade earlier--before Dr.Read more ›
This simple movie is underated, it is full of meaning, innocence, pathos and humour.
A joy to watch again and again.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Was the first Peter Sellers film i ever saw and wanted it on dvd as i only had a vhs copy. Was great to see it again!Published 2 months ago by Amazon Customer
its okay i like comedies more than heartwarming shows.not so funny thought it was.Published 13 months ago by kathy parker
I couldn't finish it. Charming doesn't charm me, for some reason. No comedy, which is what I look for.
Comedy plus charm would be great. Read more
a very good show from the late mr sellers, if you have not seen this movie you shoud it,s really very good.Published 22 months ago by Pamela
poor noise quality, with no subtitles available mires an obviously outstanding performance by Sellers. Read morePublished 22 months ago by Andy Franz
Guess I was expecting a comedy from Sellers. This is not a comedy. He's brilliant as always, but I didn't like this. Not only does the dog die (UGH! Read morePublished on October 7, 2013 by julia
This is a motion picture of unsurpassed poignancy and beauty. I tried for years to find it to purchase and wound up with a terrible vcr copy of an online broadcast. Read morePublished on May 10, 2013 by hbdanvers
I saw this parts of this a child when a TV station ran it as an afternoon movie in two parts. I was not prepared when I saw it again for how extraordinary a film it is. Read morePublished on October 12, 2011 by TrueBrit
It's a very good film displaying Peter Sellers as a serious character actor, has a real feelgood factor. Read morePublished on March 30, 2010 by Colin Richards