Being There (1979)

Makes me want to watch more TV.

Illiterate gardener Chance (Peter Sellers) is run over by wealthy Eve (Shirley MacLaine) and suddenly becomes educated gent Chauncey Gardiner, thanks to Eve’s misunderstanding of his mumbled introduction. Taken in by Eve’s family, Chance simply regurgitates what he’s heard on TV — from gardening instructions to economic predictions — and Washington’s political elite hail him as their next star.

I love it when movies that start off alright, turn out to be something incredible. That is the case with this treat.

The one thing I really loved about this film was its screenplay. It rides the coat-tails of being a satire, a comedy, and a drama. But all of it works together, because there’s so much heart and humor you just cannot resist the film. I liked how the story is so original. It shows this guy who literally does nothing, and is so simple, but captivates so many people, and they think he’s the most different guy in the world. But in a good way.

It was funny to see how all these different people reacted to everything Chance said. He literally is talking about something else, but they think he’s talking about another thing, and the reactions are priceless. Never have misunderstandings been so funny.

I feel though that the film wasn’t all that believable. Never would a man so simple, and yet so strange, actually be taken as seriously, as he was taken in this film. As much as the reactions of the fellow humans are funny, I didn’t quite believe them, but hey I mean I guess this could all just work as a piece of fiction.

Peter Sellers is honestly what makes this film, purely amazing. He’s known for playing all these crazy, goony characters from all these comedies, but here he changes it all up into somebody thoughtful, somebody true. He doesn’t use a single impersonation, or his constant use of jokes, he just plays it all simple, and that’s the best thing about him. Everybody around him is crazy, but he stays normal, and I loved this performance. Melvyn Douglas is good here, in an Oscar-winning role, that brings so much heart to the film, not that it was much needed. Shirley MacLaine had me laughing almost every time she was on screen, providing plenty of the scorn woman hilarity we would expect. Must I add, Jack Warden is our President in this film. Nuff said.

As everybody knows, there is an ending here, not gonna give anything away, that will totally take you by surprise. I loved the ending, and I think that’s one of the main things that really does make this film legendary. Was I expecting it? Not at all, and I think that’s the best thing about it, and this movie.

Consensus: Not all too believable, but still a classic dramedy, with winning performances from the cast, and a screenplay that surely will take you away.




  1. I’ve never heard of this one, but you’ve definitely intrigued me!

    Sellers was an amazing actor, and as you rightly say – far better than just a bunch of funny voices.

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