Uh-oh, it looks like your Internet Explorer is out of date.

For a better shopping experience, please upgrade now.

Being There
  • Alternative view 1 of Being There
  • Alternative view 2 of Being There

Being There

5.0 9
Director: Hal Ashby

Cast: Peter Sellers, Shirley MacLaine, Melvyn Douglas


See All Formats & Editions

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,"


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.

Editorial Reviews

Barnes & Noble - Ed Hulse
A generally faithful adaptation of Jerzy N. Kosinski's quirky comic novel that is blessed with a devastatingly hilarious deadpan performance by top-billed Peter Sellers, Being There examines contemporary America's cultural life and finds it wanting in many ways. Sellers plays Chauncey Gardner, a middle-aged, sheltered illiterate who spends most of his waking hours watching TV, from which he gleans what little he knows of life. A bizarre series of events catapults him into the inner circle of a politically active industrialist (veteran actor Melvyn Douglas in an Oscar-winning turn), who mistakes Chauncey's childlike rejoinders for profundity and proposes that he run for president. Kosinski's script, rife with absurdities but savagely witty and unsparing in its digs at the intelligentsia and the political elite, is visualized with elan by director Hal Ashby (Harold and Maude), who keeps a tight rein on the normally irrepressible Sellers. Among the supporting players, Shirley MacLaine is deliciously subtle as the smitten woman whose amorous advances go right over Chauncey's head, and Jack Warden appears to advantage in one of his customarily blustery characterizations. Being There occasionally drags, and its humor isn't the type to provoke sustained belly laughs. But it's a thoughtful, substantive comedy that rewards patient viewers and yields additional treasure with repeated viewings. The DVD includes cast/director highlights.
All Movie Guide
Perhaps the most potent film satire of the television age and postmodern politics, Being There, released in 1979, foreshadowed a generation of films that critiqued the shallowness of mass culture. But none did so with as much economy as this profoundly simple fable. No one could have played the lead role of the moronic gardener with more nuanced efficacy than Peter Sellers. When his plain-speaking character, who has done nothing all his life except watch TV, is thrust into political notoriety, Sellers displays an uncanny adeptness for mimicking the rote movements and empty phrases of a latter-day political leader. Directed expertly by the politically astute Hal Ashby, the story was adapted by screenwriter Jerzy Kosinski from his own novel. It won an Oscar nomination for Sellers and a best supporting Oscar for Melvyn Douglas; and it marked the last great part for Sellers and the end of a run of major 1970s efforts from Ashby.

Product Details

Release Date:
Original Release:
Warner Home Video
Region Code:
[Wide Screen]
Sales rank:

Special Features

New featurette - ; Memories From Being There; Theatrical trailer

Cast & Crew

Performance Credits
Peter Sellers Chance the Gardener
Shirley MacLaine Eve Rand
Melvyn Douglas Benjamin Rand
Jack Warden President Bobby
Richard Basehart Vladimir Skrapinov
Richard Dysart Dr. Robert Allenby
Ruth Attaway Louise
David Clennon Thomas Franklin
Fran Brill Sally Hayes
Denise DuBarry Johanna Franklin
Wendell Burton Actor
Ernest McClure Jeffery
Ravenell Keller Abbaz
Oteil Burbridge Lolo
Brian Corrigan Policeman
Alfredine Brown Old Woman
Donald Jacob David, chauffeur
Kenneth Patterson Perkins
Richard Venture Wilson
Arthur Grundy Arthur
Georgine Hall Mrs. Aubrey
Alice Hirson First Lady
James Noble Kaufman, Presidential Advisor
Ned Wilson Honeycutt
Stanley Grover Baldwin
Paul Marin Reporter
John Harkins Courtney
Katherine de Hetre Kinney, News Researcher
William Larsen Lyman Stuart
Jerome Hellman Gary Burns
Arthur Rosenberg Morton Hull
Sam Weisman Colson
Fredric Lehne TV Page
Gwen Humble TV Guest
Melendy Britt Sophie
Allen Williams Reporter
Hanna Hertelendy Natasha Skrapinov
Elya Baskin Karpatov
Than Wyenn Ambassador Gaufridi
John Miller Ron Steigler
Sandy Ward Sen. Slipshod
Danna Hansen Mrs. Slipshod
Mitch Kreindel Dennis Watson
Terrence Currier Pallbearer
Austin Hay Pallbearer
Mark Hammer Pallbearer
Maurice Copeland Pallbearer

Technical Credits
Hal Ashby Director
Robert R. Benton Set Decoration/Design
Andrew Braunsberg Producer
Caleb Deschanel Cinematographer
Michael Haller Production Designer
David Shamroy Hamburger Asst. Director
Jerzy Kosinski Screenwriter
Johnny Mandel Score Composer
Charles B. Mulvehill Associate Producer,Production Manager
Robert Jones Screenwriter
May Routh Costumes/Costume Designer
James L. Schoppe Art Director
Charles Schram Makeup
Jack Schwartzman Executive Producer
Frank Westmore Makeup
Jeff Wexler Sound/Sound Designer
Don Zimmerman Editor

Scene Index

Disc #1 -- Being There
1. TV Wakeup [4:16]
2. Death and Eggs [4:19]
3. Goodbye, Little Boy [2:17]
4. Visitors [3:32]
5. Move Out [4:28]
6. Street Life [3:52]
7. Message for Rafael [3:00]
8. Chance Meeting [5:34]
9. The Rand Home [3:52]
10. Claim Unclaimed [1:56]
11. Wanted: Fresh Blood [2:26]
12. Rand Memorial Hospital [3:07]
13. The Room Upstairs [3:59]
14. Cigars and No Ideas [3:14]
15. A Car for the Asking [:02]
16. A Very Peaceful Man [3:18]
17. My Very Dear Friend [5:37]
18. Presidential Garden Tips [2:38]
19. Just the Man [3:55]
20. Among the Young Plants [1:50]
21. Hold the Phone [2:14]
22. Zilch on the Guy [4:54]
23. The Gary Burns Show [2:37]
24. A White Man's World [3:24]
25. It's a Gift [2:54]
26. Chauncey's Dossier [4:21]
27. Breakfast (And More) In Bed [2:41]
28. The Toast of Washington [4:51]
29. On Everyone's Mind [3:51]
30. Only One Capable [4:56]
31. In Chauncey We Trust [3:05]
32. "I Like to Watch." [2:04]
33. Goodbye, Old Man [6:02]
34. Our One and Only Chance [6:02]
35. Walking on Water [3:33]
36. Outtake End Credits [1:12]


Customer Reviews

Average Review:

Post to your social network


Most Helpful Customer Reviews

See all customer reviews

Being There 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 4 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This movie was very interesting. Most of the main characters were wealthy or politicians, but the movie didn't get into politics and big business in all their complexities. This movie was made in simpler times. A good bit of the movie took place in a beautiful mansion, so you get a sense of what it might be like to be wealthy. Humorous at times. The pervading theme was how everyone related to the Peter Sellers character and what they believed him to be. If you are interested in human behavior, watch this movie. No fluff, gratuitous violence, continuous action, and very little sexual content. In other words, a lot of today's audience might not fully appreciate it.
Bandanna08 More than 1 year ago
Don't remember who was President when this first came out, but it doesn't really matter. It's a thought-provoking look at power and politics in the USA, from a very unusual perspective. Peter Sellers really did save his best performance for last.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago