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The Optimists of Nine Elms

Pic is a romanticized, Anglicized variant on [Vittorio De Sica's 1952 Italian classic] Umberto D, with Peter Sellers playing an aging vaudevillian whose meager income derives from sidewalk minstrelling with his equally-weary trained mutt. He tentatively befriends an eleven-year-old girl and her six-year-old brother, opening their poverty-clouded eyes to a world of magical dreams while they offer him the blessing of human contact.

Cast:
Peter Sellers Donna Mullane John Chaffey David Daker Marjorie Yates

Pic is a romanticized, Anglicized variant on [Vittorio De Sica’s 1952 Italian classic] Umberto D, with Peter Sellers playing an aging vaudevillian whose meager income derives from sidewalk minstrelling with his equally-weary trained mutt. He tentatively befriends an eleven-year-old girl and her six-year-old brother, opening their poverty-clouded eyes to a world of magical dreams while they offer him the blessing of human contact.

It all sounds like goo, and the film’s last half-hour verges perilously close. But even at its worst The Optimists is acceptable family fare, and for much of its first 80 minutes it engagingly achieves a sense of fantasy.

Director-coscripter Anthony Simmons (on whose novel The Optimists of Nine Elms screenplay is based) obviously understands and relishes the unique world of childhood.

The Optimists of Nine Elms

UK

Production: Cheetah/Sagittarius. Director Anthony Simmons; Producer Adrian Gaye, Victor Lyndon; Screenplay Anthony Simmons, Tudor Gates; Camera Larry Pizer; Editor John Jympson; Music George Martin; Art Director Robert Cartwright

Crew: (Color) Available on VHS. Extract of a review from 1974. Running time: 110 MIN.

With: Peter Sellers Donna Mullane John Chaffey David Daker Marjorie Yates

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