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Being There 1979

Subtitles

Having lived his life as the gardener on a millionaire's estate, Chance (Peter Sellers) knows of the real world only what he has seen on TV. When his benefactor dies, Chance walks aimlessly into the streets of Washington D.C., where he is struck by a car owned by wealthy Eve Rand (Shirley MacLaine). Identifying himself, the confused man mutters Chance...gardener, which Eve takes to be Chauncey ...

Starring:
Peter Sellers, Shirley MacLaine
Runtime:
2 hours, 9 minutes

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Product Details

Genres Drama, Comedy
Director Hal Ashby
Starring Peter Sellers, Shirley MacLaine
Supporting actors Melvyn Douglas, Jack Warden, Richard Dysart, Richard Basehart, Ruth Attaway, David Clennon, Fran Brill, Denise DuBarry, Oteil Burbridge, Ravenell Keller III, Brian Corrigan, Alfie Brown, Don Jacob, Ernest McClure, Kenneth Patterson, Richard Venture, Arthur Grundy, W.C. 'Mutt' Burton
Studio Warner Bros.
BBFC rating Suitable for 12 years and over
Captions and subtitles English Details
Purchase rights Stream instantly Details
Format Amazon Video (streaming online video)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: DVD
There's no 'probably' about this film. This is the best piece of acting ever by Peter Sellers. Best known for his roles in The Goons and Pink Panther series, Sellers outshines them all in this film. It wasn't very well publicised when new, and remains unknown to many. If you like slapstick - forget it. If you want funny voices - forget it. But if you want to see (possibly) the best British actor ever, in a starring role in a film that gives credit to the true professional that he was, then Buy, buy, buy...
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Format: DVD
I first saw the film when it came out, and it stuck in my memory. Not your typical Sellars (i.e. neither the slapstick of the Pink Panther nor the so-tedious-it-was-funny of The Party), the film is a comedy of manners more than anything else.
In brief, the story revolves around a certain Chauncy "Gardner" (Sellers) who, upon his employer's death, finds himself thrust out into the rude world. A simple man, with no skills to recommend him but gardening, his life outside the estate in which he has lived since his birth starts with a car accident (involving Maclaine) and progresses gently to the point where he is being discussed as a Presidential candidate.
Many fine scenes, some unforgettable lines ("I like to watch.") and an interesting final walk.
Heartily recommended.
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Format: DVD Verified Purchase
Seeing this film for the first time, 25 years on from its original release, two things really hit home. Firstly it's very good - the acting and direction are excellent, it's funny, it's a clever story, and it makes you think. All pretty good credentials for any film. Secondly - and here's where its true brilliance lies - its underlying message hasn't dated at all and, if anything, is more relevant and effective than it was when it was made.
And the message itself? Superficially, it's an exploration of how, in a world dominated by the fleeting demands of mass media, someone with absolutely no knowledge at all can become a megastar and, once established as such, can demand respect and gain power far beyond their capabilities. And, beneath that... well, that's where the fun starts. Is it an exploration of the shallowness of western society? Is it a study of people's weaknesses & needs? Is it a religious allegory? Is it, in terms of most of the characters, a huge tragedy? Is it all or none of these?
The ending, which generates much debate about its "meaning" - is he walking on water in a messianic way or is he simply so stupid that he doesn't realise he's walking, by accident, on a submerged jetty? - is quite brilliant as are the final "over the titles" cuts of Sellers being unable to deliver his deadpan lines without laughing at them, leaving you with the uncomfortable feeling that the "joke" might be on you in trying to read too much into what's on offer here. In the end, of course, it's what you want it to be and that's the whole point of the story - we make people, situations and films themselves into what we want them to be not what they necessarily are. Subtle, enigmatic and, above all, highly entertaining.
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Format: DVD
I don't intend to question the movie, which is excellent indeed. My rating is based on the fact, that this so-called "Deluxe Edition" is only a hoax, a bluff package.

The only bonus material are the recollections of Melvyn Douglas' granddaughter (16 minutes runtime, intercut with scenes from the movie) and the trailer.

Sorry, that's not luxurious, but simply ridiculous. Thanks Warner Bros. for another rip-off.
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By A Customer on 1 Aug. 2003
Format: DVD
Peter Sellers was nominated for an Academy Award for this, his penultimate film.
As it turned out, The Terrible Revenge of Fu Manchu, was his final film. Really, this should have been his last film -- a beautiful testament to an extraordinary career.
The film is a snapshot of the life of Mr Chancey, played by Sellers.
Chancey is clearly backward and yet manages to convince the other characters that he is some sort of genius and prophet.
Seller's portrayal of Chancey is understated and quite brilliant, the end sequence is startling and revelatory.
This is the greatest film you've never seen.
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By Kurt Messick HALL OF FAME on 27 Dec. 2005
Format: DVD
'Being There', starring Peter Sellers in perhaps the best performance of his life (he was nominated for the Academy Award for this), and adapted from Jerzy Kosinski's brief but rich novella, is one of the great, under-rated films that fill video-store shelves, rarely to be rented or purchased, but holding great rewards for those who do.
Perhaps it was in thinking of `The Tao of Pooh' and `The Te of Piglet' that the image of Chauncey Gardiner (Chance, the Gardener) came to mind, as someone who is as close to pure being and a human being can be. Unspoilt by intellect, education, or experience of society, Chance the Gardener has been raised in a protective environment where he main concern is for plants, other living things coming close to simple being, and for a mindless attentiveness to the television that washes over him like a halo, providing him with sufficient information to make others around him believe he is wise and knowledgeable.
In the film we come upon Chance as 'the old man' has died, and the lawyers are coming in to close the house. As a man apart from society, there is no record of Chance even existing (which becomes important later). He is a mystery from the beginning, made all the more mysterious by his completely innocent, non-evasive manner. This is rare for Washington, D.C.!
Having been turned out of the house, Chance begins his partial discovery of the real world. He experiences hatred, deprivation, and solitude for the first time, but all of this leaves little impact upon him. He continues his solitary journey until stopped by a store display of television sets, at which time he backs up to watch himself being displayed from the video camera, and is injured by a passing car belonging to Benjamin Rand, wealthy financier and kingmaker. Mrs.
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