Being There

Being There

A FILM BY: Hal Ashby
WRITTEN BY: Jerzy Kosinski (novel), Jerzy Kosinski (screenplay)
STARRING: Peter Sellers, Shirley MacLaine, Melvyn Douglas

A simpleton gains power inside the White House. Crazy! But that’s the path taken by Peter Sellers’ Chance the gardener, who becomes known as Chauncey Gardiner in Hal Ashby’s satire based on Jerzy Kozinski’s novel of the same name. This isn’t a joke-a-minute comedy but rather an unsettling, humorous exploration of how one TV-addicted gardener’s banality comes to be widely embraced as wisdom. Far-fetched then? Now? Sellers received a best actor Oscar nomination, Melvyn Douglas won best supporting actor as the elderly businessman who nurtures Chance, and Shirley MacLaine is the businessman’s wife who tries to turn on Chance in a non-TV sort of way, even as the latter insists, “I like to watch.” BEING THERE is ranked 26th on the American Film Institute’s 100 greatest comedies list and is the namesake of an excellent Wilco album.

Technical Information

Production Year: 1979
Country of Origin: United States
Language: English
Run Time: 130 mins
Format: 35mm