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The Optimists tells the story of Sam, a street performer with a unique outlook on life. Sam befriends two children who have led hard knock- lives and teaches them to look at life from a new perspective. The novelty of having a song and dance man as a friend soon turns into something much deeper, as Sam realizes that the children have just as much to teach him about life. Set amongst a wonderful London backdrop, Peter Sellers stars in one of his most charming and tender roles ever in The Optimists.
Peter Sellers was, and remains, one of Britain's finest comedic geniuses, a member of the legendary Goons (a famous forerunner to Monty Python) and noted character chameleon, able to slip effortlessly into every one of his frequently farcical roles. But what many people fail to recognize is that with said reputation comes an oft-forgotten facet: Sellers was a sensational actor. Because humor seems so inherently a part of a person's makeup, and since laughter can drown out any other critical consideration, few remember how effective Sellers could be outside a joke-filled setting. Granted, he didn't get much of a chance to show it, but the truth is that when driven, he could be as amazing - and difficult - as his equally infamous American counterparts. Case in point - 1973's The Optimists. Taken from Andrew Simmons' noted novel, this story of a strapped street performer who befriends two children was seen as a chance for the commercially questionable Sellers to stretch his performance wings. Indeed, it remains one of his most fully realized turns ever.
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
its okay i like comedies more than heartwarming shows.not so funny thought it was.Published 8 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 16 months ago by Pamela
poor noise quality, with no subtitles available mires an obviously outstanding performance by Sellers. Read morePublished 17 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 23 months ago 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