Being There

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Being There is a 1979 American satire film directed by Hal Ashby. Based on the 1970 novel of the same name by Jerzy Kosiński, it was adapted for the screen by Kosiński and the uncredited Robert C. Jones. The film stars Peter Sellers and Shirley MacLaine, and features Jack Warden, Melvyn Douglas, Richard Dysart, and Richard Basehart.

Middle-aged, simple-minded Chance lives in the townhouse of a wealthy old man in Washington, D.C. He has spent his whole life tending the garden and has never left the property. Other than gardening, his knowledge is derived entirely from what he sees on television. When his benefactor dies, Chance naively tells the lawyers that he has no claim against the estate and is ordered to move out.

Chance wanders aimlessly, discovering the outside world for the first time. Passing by a TV shop, he sees himself captured by a camera in the shop window. Entranced, he steps backward off the sidewalk and is struck by a chauffeured car owned by elderly business mogul Ben Rand. In the car is Rand’s glamorous and much younger wife Eve, who mishears “Chance, the gardener” in reply to the question who he is, as “Chauncey Gardiner”.

Being There as movie deals with a simple premise – if you act in a certain way, people will make unquestioned assumptions about you.

Sellers was nominated for Best Actor at that years Oscars.

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