Tuesday, August 18, 2009

“Being There”

As the old saying goes, "When you assume you make an ass out of you and me." If you'd like a demonstration, I suggest you watch "Being There." In this satire, Peter Sellers is Chance, a simple-minded gardener put out on the street when attorneys come to settle his dead employer’s estate. Up until that point, Chance has only experienced life through the television set. (And mind you, this is before 500 channels of cable, so it’s not much of a life.) Chance's fortunes change when he’s struck by a limousine carrying wealthy socialite Eve Rand (Shirley MacLaine). A mumbled introduction later and Chance the gardener is rechristened Chauncey Gardiner. His well-groomed appearance, expensive clothing and reserved speaking manners compound that error by leading Eve and her politically-connected husband Benjamin (Melvyn Douglas) to assume Chance is a man of importance. So when introduced to members of the Rand’s inner circle, Chance’s simple gardening tip responses to complex questions take on the air of sage advice. From there it's only a matter of time before Chance is being courted by Washington power brokers and being groomed for greatness. All of which led me to tweet: Peter Sellers is simpleton who ends up wielding tremendous influence in the nation’s capital. This is fiction, right? 8.5 (out of 10)

"Being There"

Released: 1979

Rating: PG

Length: 130 minutes

Cast: Peter Sellers, Shirley MacLaine, Melvyn Douglas, Jack Warden

Director: Hal Ashby

Genre(s): Comedy

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