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Being There (1979)

PG | | Comedy, Drama | 26 May 1980 (Denmark)
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A simpleminded, sheltered gardener becomes an unlikely trusted advisor to a powerful businessman and an insider in Washington politics.

Director:

Hal Ashby

Writers:

Jerzy Kosinski (novel), Jerzy Kosinski (screenplay)
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Popularity
3,916 ( 104)
Won 1 Oscar. Another 12 wins & 15 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Peter Sellers ... Chance
Shirley MacLaine ... Eve Rand
Melvyn Douglas ... Benjamin Rand
Jack Warden ... President 'Bobby'
Richard Dysart ... Dr. Robert Allenby
Richard Basehart ... Vladimir Skrapinov
Ruth Attaway Ruth Attaway ... Louise
David Clennon ... Thomas Franklin (as Dave Clennon)
Fran Brill Fran Brill ... Sally Hayes
Denise DuBarry ... Johanna Franklin
Oteil Burbridge ... Lolo
Ravenell Keller III Ravenell Keller III ... Abbaz
Brian Corrigan Brian Corrigan ... Policeman by White House
Alfie Brown Alfie Brown ... Old Woman asked for lunch (as Alfredine Brown)
Don Jacob Don Jacob ... David (as Donald Jacob)
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Storyline

Simple-minded gardener Chance has spent all his life in the Washington D.C. home 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 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 | Drama

Certificate:

PG | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

West Germany | USA

Language:

English | Russian | Italian

Release Date:

26 May 1980 (Denmark) See more »

Also Known As:

Being There See more »

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Box Office

Gross USA:

$30,177,511

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

$30,177,511
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono

Color:

Color (Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Finnish certificate # 88400 delivered on 31-7-1980. 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 »

Alternate Versions

CBS edited 3 minutes from this film for its 1984 network television premiere. See more »

Connections

Features The Gong Show (1976) See more »

Soundtracks

Bacchanale
(uncredited)
from "Samson and Delilah"
Written by Camille Saint-Saëns
See more »

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User Reviews

 
A Masterpiece
12 December 2003 | by DanB-4See 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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