Being There (1979)
February 6, 2017 9:49 PM - Subscribe

A simple-minded gardener named Chance (Peter Sellers) 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 Ben (Melvyn Douglas), an influential but sickly businessman, and his wife, Eve (Shirley MacLaine). Now called Chauncey Gardner, Chance becomes friend and confidante to Ben and an unlikely political insider.
posted by Going To Maine (19 comments total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
 
This movie hurts right now. It hurts, it hurts, it hurts, it hurts.
posted by Going To Maine at 9:50 PM on February 6 [5 favorites]


I like to watch.
posted by Stanczyk at 3:52 AM on February 7 [2 favorites]


This movie hurts right now.

As long as the roots are not severed, all is well. And all will be well in the garden.
posted by Capt. Renault at 6:40 AM on February 7 [6 favorites]


College student Phish fan emelenjr enjoyed the opening scenes of this movie very much.
posted by emelenjr at 7:33 AM on February 7


This movie hurts right now. It hurts, it hurts, it hurts, it hurts.

Who knew that Chance the gardener was such a bloviating asshat?
posted by ActingTheGoat at 10:04 PM on February 7 [1 favorite]


Thanks for the post, I've been thinking about Being There for a while now.
posted by ActingTheGoat at 10:05 PM on February 7


"Now get this, honky: you tell Rafael...that I ain't taking no jive from no Western Union messenger. You tell that ass hole, if he got something to tell me, to get his ass down here himself."
What comedy is drier than this? My dad was a pretty bland guy, but he had good taste for movies and comedy and took us to see it in the theater when it was new and I was 11. That character is just so pure.

The Deodato album that has the title song is good all the way through!
posted by rhizome at 1:00 PM on February 8 [1 favorite]


I haven't seen this since it came out. I was actually a big Hal Ashby fan as a teenager, Harold and Maude was one of my favorites, but I haven't seen it since. I should catch up with it gain.
posted by octothorpe at 6:33 PM on February 8 [1 favorite]


I was a huge Cheech & Chong fan at the time and it killed me that I couldn't find hide nor hair of the "Basketball Jones" cartoon.

Also, yeah, best end credits blooper reel ever.
posted by whuppy at 5:06 PM on February 9


I don't see it as a blooper so much as a scene that was so funny it couldn't be filmed.

Wikipedia says he thought it cost him the Oscar!
posted by rhizome at 7:32 PM on February 9 [2 favorites]


Filmed at Biltmore.
posted by holgate at 5:30 PM on February 24


It’s one of the odd parts of the movie - that it so rapidly transitions from inner DC to that palatial estate, somewhere that makes no sense in the context of the area.
posted by Going To Maine at 5:33 PM on February 24


It’s one of the odd parts of the movie - that it so rapidly transitions from inner DC to that palatial estate, somewhere that makes no sense in the context of the area.

There is one shot showing a McD's and 7/11 type place right outside of the estate gates, which I'm guessing was put in there to try and show the house was "in the city".

This movie blew my mind! Wow.

"It's for sure a white man's world in America. Look here: I raised that boy since he was the size of a piss-ant. And I'll say right now, he never learned to read and write. No, sir. Had no brains at all. Was stuffed with rice pudding between th' ears. Shortchanged by the Lord, and dumb as a jackass. Look at him now! Yes, sir, all you've gotta be is white in America, to get whatever you want. Gobbledy-gook!"
posted by sallybrown at 1:40 PM on February 26 [3 favorites]


There is one shot showing a McD's and 7/11 type place right outside of the estate gates

There is in fact a McD's right outside the estate gates even today, though I don't know if that was the one in the shot.
posted by holgate at 1:58 PM on February 26 [1 favorite]


Who knew that Chance the gardener was such a bloviating asshat?

“It’s for sure a white man's world in America. Look here: I raised that boy since he was the size of a piss-ant. And I’ll say right now, he never learned to read and write. No, sir. Had no brains at all. Was stuffed with rice pudding between th’ ears. Shortchanged by the Lord, and dumb as a jackass. Look at him now! Yes, sir, all you've gotta be is white in America, to get whatever you want. Gobbledy-gook!”

The thing of it is, the movie isn’t particularly an indictment of Chance. It’s an indictment of a system that assumes that, based on your appearance, you belong in it and deserve to be in power. Chance slips through the cracks despite never pretending to be other than he is. (We really don’t know how the campaign at the end of the movie will actually go, or if the doctor will decide to and/or be able to expose him.) Trump, in contrast, is actively trying to grift people into thinking that he’s good at stuff. He’s been enabled by gatekeepers at every stage of his career who have been happy to buy into that false presentation -his bankers, the producers of The Apprentice, the GOP- but he’s also been actively working to make that possible. He’s not Chance, but Chance enables him.

In an odd twist, according to Wikipedia the book may have been plagiarized from The Career of Nicodemus Dyzma, the protagonist of which sounds in some ways more like a Trump figure.
posted by Going To Maine at 3:21 PM on February 26 [1 favorite]


Absolutely one of the most salient aspects of the movie is that Chance never schemes, or lies, or really participates any more than getting hit by a car. He is absolutely guileless.
posted by rhizome at 4:42 PM on February 26 [1 favorite]


The Deodato album that has the title song is good all the way through!

Wow, I had no idea the band included Ray Barretto, Ron Carter, Stanley Clarke, and Billy Cobham! Somehow I'd always thought of it as just a novelty song.
posted by mubba at 5:07 PM on February 26


Hell no, that album and the one after it, curiously titled "Deodato 2," are great, and classic prime-time CTI Records material.
posted by rhizome at 8:20 PM on February 26


Just saw it on a huge screen at Ebertfest and loved it all over again. Sellers was totally robbed of his Oscar for this role.
posted by octothorpe at 7:42 AM on April 23 [1 favorite]


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