"Being There" Is Released
Being There is a 1979 film directed by Hal Ashby, adapted from the 1971 novel written by Jerzy Kosiński.
The film stars Peter Sellers, Shirley MacLaine, Melvyn Douglas, Jack Warden, Richard A. Dysart and Richard Basehart. Douglas won the Academy Award for Best Actor in a Supporting Role and Sellers was nominated for Best Actor in a Leading Role. This was the last Peter Sellers film to be released while he was alive.
The screenplay was coauthored by Kosinski and the award winning screenwriter Robert C. Jones, winning the 1981 British Academy of Film and Television Arts (Film) Best Screenplay Award and the 1980 Writers Guild of America Award (Screen) for Best Comedy Adapted from Another Medium. It was also nominated for the 1980 Golden Globe Award for Best Screenplay.
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 Gardiner." Eve takes him to her home to convalesce, and because Chance is so well-dressed and well-groomed, and because he speaks in such a cultured tone, everyone in her orbit assumes that "Chauncey Gardiner" must be a man of profound intelligence. No matter what he says, it is interpreted as a pearl of wisdom and insight. He rises to the top of Washington society, where his simplistic responses to the most difficult questions (responses usually related to his gardening experience) are highly prized by the town's movers and shakers. In fact, there is serious consideration given to running Chance as a presidential candidate. Both a modern fable and a political satire, Being There was based on the novel by Jerzy Kosinski and costars Melvyn Douglas, who won a Best Supporting Actor Oscar as Eve's aging power-broker husband. ~ Hal Erickson, All Movie Guide