Tuesday, February 07, 2012

Forgotten Movies: BEING THERE




It is almost impossible to believe that Peter Sellers has been dead 32 years or that this movie is 33 years old. It seems like yesterday....

This is certainly an odd duck of a movie but it worked for me.
Chance (Sellers) is a gardener who has never left the home of his employer. When the employer dies and no provision has been made for Chance, he goes out into the world.

His simplicity is mistaken for profundity by everyone he meets. He becomes the confidante of politicos in D.C. and offers them advice that seems to be insightful and inspired. Helped by Jack Warden, Shirley MacLaine and Melvyn Douglas, this had a weird and wonderful script from Jerzy Kosinski and was directed by Hal Ashby.

Sellers made this film the year before he died. A nice legacy for us. For more forgotten movies, see Todd Mason.

18 comments:

Margot Kinberg said...

Patti - This one really is a great example of one of those odd little films that just... works.

Bill Crider said...

Loved this one.

Dan_Luft said...

Loved this movie and, back in the 90s, recommended it to everyone who was wild on FORREST GUMP.

I read everything by Kosinski and I guess that this, PAINTED BIRD and STEPS probably qualify as forgotten books.

George said...

A gem of a movie! Peter Sellers pushed for BEING THERE. It's one of his great movies, but it's unknown to most people.

Anonymous said...

I'm not looking to be contrary but this didn't work for me. I thought the critics were reading meaning that just wasn't there.

I am a Sellers fan - Lolita, Dr. Strangelove, I Love You Alice B. Toklas! (where he plays a Jewish lawyer in Los Angeles), etc.

Jeff M.

Dana King said...

Great movie, a true gem. Much better than GUMP. I never saw Jack Warden give a performance I didn't like, and the scene with Sellers and Shirley MacLaine ("I like to watch") is hysterical.

pattinase (abbott) said...

Yes, it was a masterpiece. How they managed to make it credible that they would see him as brilliant and we would know he was not was truly brilliant.

Prashant C. Trikannad said...

I saw this film last year and liked it a lot. Sellers is quite superb without saying much throughout the film.

Richard R. said...

"I like to watch." One of the best known lines.

I'm with Jeff on this, though, I thought it was quirky at the time and in retrospect it just didn't work. It seemed to me they took a gimmick, ignorance mistaken for profundity, and ran way too far with it.

pattinase (abbott) said...

I am not sure it would hold up for me on a second viewing so I haven't subjected it to it.

Yvette said...

A very moving film as I remember it. I haven't seen it again for the very same reason as you, Patti.

But I might take a chance one of these days.

Wow, 32 years. Well, at least we have his films.

Ron Scheer said...

Enjoyed the novel and thought Seller's interpretation of the character was brilliant. Was trying to tell someone about this movie while waiting for the bus the other day and just got this blank stare. Appropriate response I guess.

pattinase (abbott) said...

You had to BE THERE.

Thomas Pluck said...

One of my favorite films. Since I was a kid. I didn't understand much of it then but I still liked it.

K. A. Laity said...

I love this film, Sellers and Kosinski's book(s). Fascinating life: a lot of trauma and guilt.

iluvcinema said...

Another one I have heard of but have not had the pleasure to see.

Will be added to my list.

Erik Donald France said...

Agreed on all fronts!

Peter Rozovsky said...

I may have been too young and immature when I saw the movie on its initial release, but it struck me then as one of the most overrated movies in history, and nothing I've heard or read since had caused me to change my mind. It struck me as a one-joke movie that faked profundity.
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