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Being There (1979)

Peter Sellers , Shirley MacLaine  |  PG |  DVD
4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (605 customer reviews)

Price: $26.95
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Product Details

  • Actors: Peter Sellers, Shirley MacLaine, Melvyn Douglas, Richard A. Dysart, Jack Warden
  • Format: Anamorphic, Closed-captioned, Color, HiFi Sound, Subtitled, Widescreen, NTSC
  • Language: English (Unknown)
  • Subtitles: English, Spanish, French, Portuguese
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: PG (Parental Guidance Suggested)
  • Studio: Warner Home Video
  • DVD Release Date: April 3, 2001
  • Run Time: 130 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (605 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B000056WRD
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #50,264 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Being There" on IMDb

Special Features

None.

Editorial Reviews

Based on Jerzy Kosinski's satirical novel about an illiterate gardener who has lived his entire life behind the walls of a Washington, D.C., house, his only knowledge of the world coming from the TV programs he watches. When his employer and protector dies, he is catapulted into the fast lane of political power.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
269 of 278 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars In the garden, growth has its season. August 21, 2000
Format:VHS Tape
This is my favorite movie of all time. And I don't particularly like Peter Sellers!
It's a slow starter. First time I saw it, I remember being somewhat puzzled by the opening, where Chance is revealed as a very retarded middle-aged man, trained as a gardener, who apparantly has reached his full--and extremely limited--potential. He loses his livelihood and his sheltered place to live when "the old man"--his mysterious benefactor--dies, and the lawyers in charge of the estate evict him.
My first chuckle came soon after, when he tried using his TV remote on a mugger, trying to change the experience into something more pleasant; it wasn't until this point in the film that things began to make sense to me.
Throughout the rest of the movie, scene after scene shows 'Chauncy Gardener' as a complete misfit--and highlights how we human beings, in all our frailty, create ourselves and our world through what we decide to believe. When Chancy speaks, his words are mysterious because they are short and puzzling--when those around him try to make sense of them, they take what he says as metaphors, and read wildly profound meanings in his words.
(This leads to Jerzy Kosinski's purpose for writing the novel, to highlight the foolish way people blindly swallow whatever tripe the media--and our politicians--serve up. IMO director Hal Ashby caught Jerzy's intention with this movie even better than the book did.)
At the same time that people read wisdom into his simple words, Chauncy is fully present and honest in the moment, and the other characters--to whom this is foreign--treasure that, even while they completely miss that Chance is totally clueless as to what's really going on (with one notable exception).
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57 of 60 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Underappreciated Masterpiece November 14, 2006
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
"Being There" is one of my favorite movies of all time, starring Peter Sellers in his last major film role. How Sellers was cheated out of an Oscar is still a mystery to me, as this has to be one of the greatest performances by an actor in the last 40 years. Maybe voters for the Academy Award weren't in the mood for a black comedy, which this show is, or maybe they didn't like its political overtones? Or, maybe they just couldn't give such a serious award to someone who'd played Inspector Clouseau? In any case, this movie was way before its time in style and substance; Academy voters missed the boat. Among other things, they should have asked themselves if anyone else could have played this part so well? Could anyone else have done the blank, languid stares so convincingly? Could anyone else have delivered the dead-pan lines so flawlessly? The answers would have been a resounding, No.

The movie tells the story of a half-retarded gardener, Chance, whom one supposes is the illegitimate son of a prominent business man in Washington, D. C. This occurs in 1979, when the Carter Administration was in its last stages of faded glory. Chance, played by Peter Sellers, is left homeless when the old man dies. He then wanders the streets of the big city in search of his new life. Whatever he has learned has come from watching TV and he uses his remote control to change channels. While roaming the streets of Washington, Chance even tries his clicker in real life situations, which is very funny.

Chance then stumbles upon one of the main power brokers in D. C., a gravely-ill Ben Rand. He is played by Melvyn Douglas who won an Oscar for Best Supporting Actor in this portrayal. Rand's wife Eve, played by Shirley MacLane, falls for Chance and a tawdry affair (on her side) ensues.
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60 of 68 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Still great after 30 years... January 18, 2009
Format:Blu-ray
This is a wonderful film that I saw theatrically some 30 years ago. This blu-ray is sharp and film like, with muted colors appropriate to the story, but still very nice to finally watch in hi def. Don't expect it to look like a modern day film. I saw several subtle things I hadn't noticed before, because of the sharp resolution.

The extras are nice, but brief. One short scene and one 'extension' plus the alternate (original) ending. Also, there's a promo piece for distributors with Peter and Hal Ashby. Nice to have these, but I'm wondering what happened to all those hours of videotapes of alternates of the whole film that I read about before. Were they poor quality or impossible to find? I heard some crumbled into dust when played back so perhaps they're gone for good.

The making of only has Illana Douglas (granddaughter of Melvyn)who was on set as a youngster. (Where is Shirley Maclaine? Most of the others are, of course, no longer with us.)

A no brainer buy for fans and if you haven't seen it - rent it!
A great performance from Peter Sellers and all involved.
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171 of 206 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Deluxe Edition? Bluff package! May 20, 2009
By coma
Format:DVD
I don't intend to question the movie, which is excellent indeed. My rating is based on the fact, that this so-called "Deluxe Edition" is only a hoax, a bluff package.

The only bonus material are the recollections of Melvyn Douglas' granddaughter (16 minutes runtime, intercut with scenes from the movie) and the trailer.

Sorry, that's not luxurious, but simply ridiculous. Thanks Warner Bros. for another rip-off.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
3.0 out of 5 stars Ok buy ............
Not as good as I remembered it. Peter Sellers is great but the story seemed very forced.
Published 21 hours ago by ACE
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
One of my favorites of all time
Published 1 day ago by Ron
5.0 out of 5 stars What a grea movie
I watched the movie and it reminded me of the general public in the country when it comes to politics since most people will come up with a conclusion based upon few facts and no... Read more
Published 4 days ago by Steve in CT
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
One of my all-time favorite movies!
Published 4 days ago by Steve Gilbort
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
great DVD.
Published 9 days ago by Diana
3.0 out of 5 stars Difficult-to-believe main premise well sritten, directed and acted
Arch Campbell, a local TV film critic, cites this movie as one of his all-time favorites. It IS wonderfully acted: Peter Sellers, Shirley MacLaine. Read more
Published 9 days ago by K. Kirk-leason
5.0 out of 5 stars Peter Sellers made Chauncy Gardner a believeable character with his...
An absolute classic movie. Everyone should have this movie on their "Bucket List". Peter Sellers made Chauncy Gardner a believeable character with his great acting skills. Read more
Published 10 days ago by Deb.H
5.0 out of 5 stars The Original Forrest Gump
I am not a Peter Sellers fan apart from his Inspector Clouseau character, but after getting a taste of this film on TCM I had to add it to my collection. Read more
Published 10 days ago by Lawrence E Yurkonis
4.0 out of 5 stars Vintage Sellers acting
Somewhat fated now
Published 10 days ago by Stormin Norm
4.0 out of 5 stars must see movie!!
Peter Sellers is fantastic in this movie. He is so talented. I recomend this movie to anyone who enjoys a great script, awesome acting and who likes a good laugh.
Published 12 days ago by Fadukee Uruhu
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don't buy the dvd unless you can't remember what movie you're watching
Oh, crap! That is really sucky. Thanx for the tip!
Sep 12, 2008 by Jonathan Cardwell |  See all 2 posts
Outtakes
According to a couple of the reviews that I've just read: "yes," the outtakes do appear on the DVD.
Aug 19, 2007 by Gary John Stromeyer |  See all 3 posts
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