Being There is a American comedy-drama film directed by Hal Ashby. In , the United States Library of Congress selected Being There for preservation in the National Film Registry , finding it "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant". Middle-aged, simple-minded Chance lives in the townhouse of a wealthy old man in Washington, D. 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.
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Being There is a American comedy-drama film directed by Hal Ashby. In , the United States Library of Congress selected Being There for preservation in the National Film Registry , finding it "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant".
Middle-aged, simple-minded Chance lives in the townhouse of a wealthy old man in Washington, D. 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 much younger wife Eve, who mishears "Chance, the gardener" in reply to the question who he is, as "Chauncey Gardiner. Eve brings Chance to their home to recover. He is wearing expensive tailored clothes from the s and s, which his benefactor had allowed him to take from the attic, and his manners are old-fashioned and courtly.
When Ben Rand meets him, he takes "Chauncey" for an upper-class, highly-educated businessman who has fallen on hard times. Rand admires him, finding him direct, wise and insightful. Rand is also a confidant and advisor to the President of the United States , whom he introduces to "Chauncey. Chance now rises to national prominence, attends important dinners, develops a close connection with the Soviet ambassador, and appears on a television talk show during which his detailed advice about what a serious gardener should do is misunderstood as his opinion on what would be his presidential policy.
Though he has now risen to the top of Washington society, the Secret Service and some 16 other agencies are unable to find any background information on him.
During this time Rand's physician, Dr. Allenby, becomes increasingly suspicious that Chance is not a wise political expert and that the mystery of his identity may have a more mundane explanation. Allenby considers telling Rand this, but realizing how happy Chance is making him in his final days keeps him silent. The dying Rand encourages Eve to become close to "Chauncey.
Chance has no interest in or knowledge of sex, but mimics a kissing scene from the film The Thomas Crown Affair , which happens to be showing on the TV.
When the scene ends, Chauncey stops suddenly and Eve is confused. She asks what he likes, meaning sexually; he replies "I like to watch," meaning television. She is momentarily taken aback, but decides she is willing to masturbate for his voyeuristic pleasure, thereby not noticing that he has turned back to the TV and is now imitating a yoga exercise on a different channel. Chance is present at Rand's death and shows genuine sadness at his passing.
Questioned by Dr. Allenby, he admits that he "loves Eve very much" and also that he is just a gardener. When he leaves to inform Eve of Ben's death, Allenby says to himself, "I understand," but interpretation of that is left to the viewer. While the President delivers a speech at Rand's funeral, the pallbearers hold a whispered discussion over potential replacements for the President in the next term of office and unanimously agree on Chauncey Gardiner as successor.
Oblivious to all this, Chance wanders off through Rand's wintry estate. He straightens out a pine sapling flattened by a fallen branch, then walks across the surface of a lake.
He pauses, dips his umbrella deep into the water under his feet, then continues on, while the President is heard quoting Rand: "Life is a state of mind. Principal filming occurred at the Biltmore Estate , the largest private home in America, located in Asheville, North Carolina.
Melvyn Douglas's granddaughter, Illeana Douglas , visited the set and met Peter Sellers, who is her favorite actor. She has since credited the film for inspiring her to pursue a career in acting. They often reminisced about their war days while on the set. Burt Lancaster was Ashby's first choice for the role of Ben Rand. According to MacLaine, " Peter believed he was Chauncey. He never had lunch with me He was Chauncey Gardiner the whole shoot, but believing he was having a love affair with me.
Incidental music is used very sparingly. What little original music is used was composed by Johnny Mandel , and primarily features two recurrent piano themes based on " Gnossiennes " No.
Mandel was also assisted by his late cousin and fellow composer Miles Goodman with the orchestration of the film. The film opened to positive reviews, and gave Sellers a hit after many of his previous films outside of the Pink Panther series had flopped.
Film critic Roger Ebert awarded a full grade of 4 out of 4 stars in his original print review  and mentions the final scene in his book The Great Movies II p. Ebert writes, "The movie presents us with an image, and while you may discuss the meaning of the image, it is not permitted to devise explanations for it.
Since Ashby does not show a pier, there is no pier—a movie is exactly what it shows us, and nothing more. Vincent Misiano reviewed Being There in Ares Magazine 3 and commented that "The film's humor never flags and yet its delicately bitter irony is never far away.
It satirizes politics and politicians, business and businessmen, and, finally, all the rest of us and what we imagine we see when we look at one another. The credits at the film's end roll over an outtake , known as the "Rafael outtake. An alternative credit sequence has waves on a television set as they would appear on an "unoccupied" channel.
The critical consensus reads: "Smart, sophisticated, and refreshingly subtle, Being There soars behind sensitive direction from Hal Ashby and a stellar Peter Sellers performance.
The film is recognized by American Film Institute in:. From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. This article is about the film. For the novel, see Being There novel. For other uses, see Being There disambiguation.
Theatrical release poster. Lorimar Productions. Dysart as Dr. Jones worked extensively on the screenplay. Motion Picture Editors Guild. Retrieved November 22, Beach, Christopher Box Office Mojo. Retrieved June 6, The Hollywood Reporter.
Retrieved December 16, Library of Congress, Washington, D. Retrieved May 18, Our State. Retrieved May 12, San Francisco Gate.
Retrieved September 6, Strangelove: A Biography of Peter Sellers. Hachette Books. University Press of Kentucky. The New York Times. August 20, Retrieved March 25, Associated Press. Los Angeles Times.
Sarasota Herald-Tribune. August 22, The Daily Gazette. August 21, Retrieved November 24, Chicago Sun-Times. Archived from the original on June 23, Retrieved December 12, Chicago Tribune.
Section 3, p. The New York Times : C Variety : December 19, Part IV, p. Ares Magazine. Simulations Publications, Inc.
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