Being There (1979) – Peter Sellers Gardening Guru

Being There (1979) poster film movie

Being There is one of those movies that digs about in your brain, popping up throughout the day nagging at you to decipher what it was all about. Could it be that deep, did it have so many undercurrent takes on life, metaphors of differing scales on the human condition .. I don’t know to be honest but man did I absolutely adored this film.

Being There (1979) Peter Sellers Chance chancey gardener

How could you not love the delightful wandering simple minded performance of Chance by Peter Sellers.  Our wonderful innocent hero is, Chance the gardener or as he becomes known, Chauncey Gardiner.

Being There (1979) Peter Sellers Chance chancey gardener guru

Chance works as a gardener for a wealthy old man in a massion stuck in the middle of a Washington DC ghetto. He spends his days tending the estates court yards and gardens whilst entertaining himself the rest of the time watching and learning from the television, constantly flicking through channels educating himself from infomercials and news reports. He’s seems very content in this life until his whole world changes with the death of his master (father?) and has to leave the estate behind, wandering off into a strange and bewildering world.

Being There (1979) Peter Sellers Chance chancey gardener guru 2

Tagline – Getting there is half the fun; being there is all of it!

Now that adventure into a brave new world starts with a truly amazing scene set to, of all things, the theme to 2001 Space Odyssey, well that damn funky 1973 version of Richard Strauss’s Also Sprach Zarathustra by Eumir Deodato.

Being There (1979) Peter Sellers Chance chancey street walking

It so suits Chances departure off on his epic journey upon the unknown. Accompanied by the grand orchestra and the funky sounds enhancing his travels through the slums. I suggest you watch the scene unfold in the film but if you fancy a recap or just happy to watch it anyway, here’s the full scene.

Tagline – Life is a state of mind

Now like a certain Forrest Gump our Chance has a knack for being in the right place at the right time and literally bumps into his next destiny. Meeting up with Eve Rand, played by a orgasmic Shirley Maclaine, the wife of elderly wealthy businessman Benjamin Rand (Melvyn Douglas). From there on Chance manages to become a “guru” talking in gardening quotes. Impressing non other than the President of the United States
President Bobby (Jack Warden) himself.

Being There (1979) Peter Sellers Chance Melvyn Douglas randBeing There (1979) Peter Sellers Chance Shirley Maclaine

Graffiti – America ain’t shit cause the white man’s got a God complex

Chance inadvertently gives sex tips, speaks a dozens languages, befriends the upper-class and appears on TV. What is so special about Chance? You will have to watch it to find out.

Based upon a 1970 novel by Polish born writer Jerzy Kosinski, Being There is directed by Hal Ashby who gave us the wonderful dark humour and sweetness of Harold and Maude.

Being There (1979) Peter Sellers Chance Shirley Maclaine Melvyn Douglas rand

The ending? Spoilers in the link, only open this link if you have seen it.  I noticed this article on screenprism.com gives some wonderful insight to work that grey matter. Have a read and see what you think.

Fun Fact – On the end credits sequence Peter Sellers wasn’t happy to have that out-take footage. I thoroughly agree with his thoughts that it took you out of the magicalness of his character. It was still pretty funny though.

Have fun, being there…. Thanks for reading Mikey the Wolfman

Further Reading Links

1979 Being There New York Times Review by Janet Maslin
Roger Ebert Being There DVD review
Being There (1979) IMDB

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4 thoughts on “Being There (1979) – Peter Sellers Gardening Guru

  1. Peter Sellers helped to guide me to the magical world of movies when I was growing up. What a tragic loss to see him die shortly after this wonderful film. Me and my two sons who are now young men still will put on a Clouseau film and fast forward to the bits that have us rolling in laughter as I did with my own Dad years ago. Cheers’

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    1. Always nice to see your comments pop up Mike and really lovely to hear your memories of the legacy of Peter Sellers and so good to hear the laughter he brought is passed on through the family. I’m too doing similar things with my son and daughter. I like to think my hit ratio is better than I hoped for but they might just be humouring me lol……. Kirk Russell “The Thing” is next on the family list and hopefully to freak them out with some good old fashioned bonkers effects.

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      1. I’d love to sit in and see what they think of Thing! That’s part of the fun of introducing your kiddies to your faves. Another Sellers film to look for that is under the radar a bit is After The Fox. A 1966 madcap heist flick.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. They’ve been introduced to the Alien films but The Thing’s effects and horror are something else all together. Hehe be interesting to see how the upside down spider head and other freaky things go down. Sure they find it funny or it could end up costing me loads in therapy fees lol.
          Have never heard of “After The Fox”. Looks and sounds excellent, I’m all over it. Thank you very :).

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