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  • Being There [VHS]
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Being There [VHS]


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Being There [VHS] + Harold & Maude [VHS]
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Product Details

  • Actors: Peter Sellers, Shirley MacLaine, Melvyn Douglas, Jack Warden, Richard Dysart
  • Directors: Hal Ashby
  • Writers: Jerzy Kosinski, Robert C. Jones
  • Producers: Andrew Braunsberg, Charles Mulvehill, Jack Schwartzman
  • Format: Closed-captioned, Color, HiFi Sound, NTSC
  • Language: English
  • Rated: PG (Parental Guidance Suggested)
  • Number of tapes: 1
  • Studio: Warner Home Video
  • VHS Release Date: December 8, 1994
  • Run Time: 130 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (657 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: 6301590740
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #387,686 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com

Thanks to an extraordinary, delicately balanced performance by Peter Sellers, Being There received mixed reviews during its theatrical release in 1979, but has since become a celebrated comedy with a loyal following. It's one of the most unusual black comedies ever made, simply because it stretches a simple premise over 130 minutes of straight-faced, strangely compelling commentary on politics, media, and celebrity in media-savvy America. Adapted by Jerzy Kozinsky from his own novel, the movie's about a simple-minded, middle-aged gardener who, after a lifetime of seclusion and safety in a Washington, D.C. townhouse, gets his first exposure to reality beyond the walls of his sheltered existence. His only reference to the world is through his childlike addiction to television, and when a chance encounter brings him into the inner fold of a dying billionaire (Melvyn Douglas), he suddenly finds himself the toast of Washington's political elite. His simple phrases about gardening are misinterpreted as anything from economic predictions to sage political advice, and under the sharp direction of Hal Ashby, Sellers has the audacity to take this comedic conceit to its logical extreme. Being There is not for all tastes--especially not for those who don't appreciate comedic subtlety. But as a showcase for the daring genius of Peter Sellers, this is a classic movie in a category all its own. --Jeff Shannon

Customer Reviews

Melvyn Doughlas (who won a Best Supporting Actor Oscar) and Shirley MacLaine are excellent as well.
Grigory's Girl
As Chance says, "I like to watch." (this line is misinterpreted a few times during the course of the movie.)
D. Pawl
His ability to seem so simple to the audience, yet also seem profound to other characters makes all the jokes work.
D. W. MacKenzie

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

272 of 282 people found the following review helpful By T. Stockman on 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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58 of 63 people found the following review helpful By James T. Wheeler on 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 By Michael A Anderson on 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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172 of 208 people found the following review helpful By coma on May 20, 2009
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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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
Lolo, the kid in the gang Be the first to reply
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