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Being There (1979)

 -  Comedy  -  19 December 1979 (USA)
8.0
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Ratings: 8.0/10 from 44,958 users  
Reviews: 271 user | 90 critic

A simple, sheltered gardener becomes an unlikely trusted adviser to a powerful businessman and an insider in Washington politics.

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(novel), (screenplay), 1 more credit »
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Won 1 Oscar. Another 15 wins & 11 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
...
...
...
Benjamin Rand
...
President 'Bobby'
...
...
Vladimir Skrapinov
Ruth Attaway ...
Louise
...
Thomas Franklin (as Dave Clennon)
Fran Brill ...
Sally Hayes
...
Johanna Franklin
Oteil Burbridge ...
Lolo
Ravenell Keller III ...
Abbaz
Brian Corrigan ...
Policeman by White House
Alfredine P. Brown ...
Old Woman asked for lunch (as Alfredine Brown)
Don Jacob ...
David (as Donald Jacob)
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Storyline

A simple-minded gardener named Chance has spent all his life in the Washington D.C. house of an old man. When the man dies, Chance is put out on the street with no knowledge of the world except what he has learned from television. After a run in with a limousine, he ends up a guest of a woman (Eve) and her husband Ben, an influential but sickly businessman. Now called Chauncey Gardner, Chance becomes friend and confidante to Ben, and an unlikely political insider. Written by Scott Renshaw <as.idc@forsythe.stanford.edu>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

A story of chance See more »

Genres:

Comedy

Certificate:

PG | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

 »
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Details

Country:

Language:

| |

Release Date:

19 December 1979 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Chance  »

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Color:

(Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See  »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

The mansion used in the movie was The Biltmore Mansion in Asheville, North Carolina. See more »

Goofs

When Eve enters Chance's room as he is eating breakfast in bed, the napkin beneath his chin changes position back and forth between shots. See more »

Quotes

[first lines]
Chance the Gardener: Good morning, Louise.
Louise: He's dead, Chance. The old man's dead.
Chance the Gardener: I see.
[Chance goes back to watching TV]
See more »

Crazy Credits

Under the end titles of the theatrical release are outtakes of Peter Sellers as Chance recounting the encounter with Abbaz. Sellers breaks character and laughs during each attempt. The lines do not appear in the movie. Certain versions of the film have credits with white text on a black background without the outtakes. See more »

Connections

Referenced in Lesch & Co.: Quantität und Qualität (2002) See more »

Soundtracks

Symphony N°6 in F Major (opus 68)
known as "The Pastoral Symphony"
Composed by Ludwig van Beethoven
(1808)
See more »

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User Reviews

 
A Masterpiece
12 December 2003 | by (Canada) – See all my reviews

"To see me as a person on screen would be one of the dullest experiences you could ever wish to experience" - quote from Peter Sellers.

Peter Sellers had many quotes like this in which he spoke of his near self-hatred, hated seeing himself, and that when he was not doing comedy, he was dull and unfunny. That makes his portrayal of Chauncey Gardner that much more amazing, because he portrays a very simple man totally comfortable within himself.

Being There is a great film. It deals with a simple premise - if you act in a certain way, people will make unquestioned assumptions about you. Chauncy is slow witted and has the mind of small child, and all that he knows in gardening. However, he dresses in nice suits, has impeccable manners and is not shy, so he is accepted into social circles. When he speaks of gardening, his ramblings are mistaken for metaphors and he is instantly considered an economic genius.

This is wrapped around a beautiful film, in which Chauncey wanders from one circumstance into another, never changing his demeanor, never faltering. I an reminded of Mr Magoo walking blindly down a succession of steel girders thinking they are stairs. Essentially, he is not in peril because he does not know he is in peril. The charm of this film exists in Chauncey's unwavering personality, and how it affects the world of phonies and bureaucrats he has come to inhabit.

Although the film sometimes comes across as forced, and some of the encounters with Eve (Shirley MacLaine) come off forced, the film is still a masterpiece. Its theme and Sellers' stunning performance lauch it into the catoegory of greatness.

There is much debate amongst the lovers of this film over its final scene. If you have not seen it, rent it, and draw your conclusions. Like many great movies steeped in mood and metaphor, we are left to draw our own conclusions.

The phrase "I like to watch" has become so famous from this movie - it refers to Chauncey's love for TV and the fact that it is his reference point for his existance. (Such has when he tries to click a remote to thwart off muggers). But there is a great deal more to Being There. It is a Top 10 Selection of 70s, Hal Ashby's best film and Peter Sellers greatest performance. **** out of ****.


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