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being-there

BEING THERE (1979)- PG

A sophisticated comedy about politics in Washington DC.

When a simple gardener, Chance, is put out on the streets upon the death of his "landlord," his only knowledge of the world comes from what he's learned from the television. A serendipitous run-in with a lumousine, however, lands him in the company of a young woman and her shrewd, businessman husband, Ben. Under the name of Chauncey Garner, Chance quickly befriends the couple, becoming an unlikely political insider to the husband in the process.

The cast includes: Peter Sellers and Shirley MacLaine; with Jack Warden, Melvyn Douglas, Richard Dysart, and Richard Basehart.

Directed by Hal Ashby.

Executive Producer: Jack Schwaetzman. Produced by: Andrew Braunsberg.

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Promotional Lines: "Life is a state of mind." "A story of chance."

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Ashby's "Being There" is a clever, thought-provoking, very funny, yet touching comedy, that tells the tale of Chauncy (Peter Sellers), a simple-minded, but impeccably dressed, well-mannered & refined man who spent his entire life, isolated inside the "old man's" grand townhouse, working as the gardener. When his benefactor dies, Chauncy is kicked out on the street, where he winds up meeting a Washington power broker, Benjamin Rand (Melvyn Douglas), and an eager audience, hungry for the "few simple truisms" that Chauncy has learned from the TV programs he constantly watches, and from his experience of being a gardener.

It is hysterically funny to see how the always immaculately dressed, in formal attire, Chance rises to national prominence, due to people reading more into his stated "few simple truisms," and then giving the credit of a deep thinker to Chance, who is simply stating what he understands, in a calm, confident, positive, reassuring manner.

Peter Sellers, as Chauncy, gives the performance of his life, which earned him a National Board of Review and a Golden Globe award, as well as an Academy Award Nomination. His inspirational, straight portrayal of Chance, really carries the movie, fully realizing the depth of his character as written in a dynamite script, by Jerzy Kosinski, based on the novel by Jerzy Kosinski, that blends comedy with drama to create a memorable film.

Also, Melvyn Douglas, as Benjamin Rand, won his second Oscar, for best supporting actor. Sellers & Douglas, along with a super star cast, that supports and enhances this work of true art, are all directed by a master, the late Hale Ashby, who also keeps the pace and timing right on course.

Shirley MacLaine - does a good job as Eve Rand, the wife of the dying Benjamin Rand, who befriends Chance.

Richard A. Dysart - Does a great job as the wise Doctor Robert Allenby, Rand's personal doctor, who is the only one to figure out the straight story on Chance.

Some of the many highlights of this great comedy, are the scenes where Chance tries to get rid of the nasty street gang confronting him, by clicking his TV remote control at them, his television appearances, the learning to use the telephone scene, and the last twenty minutes of the movie. Also, be sure to sit through the film's credits at the end of the movie, where they have a hilarious out-take, that is sure worth a chuckle or two.

Johnny Mandel's music, is hauntingly, sadly beautiful, and captures the serious mood of the screenplay.

This film is highly recommended to mature audiences.

If you enjoyed BEING THERE, you may like DAVE, GABRIEL
OVER THE WHITE HOUSE, and FORREST GUMP.

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