Greatest Film Scenes
and Moments

Being There (1979)


Written by Tim Dirks

Title Screen
Movie Title/Year and Scene Descriptions

Being There (1979)

In Hal Ashby's satire adapted from Jerry Kosinski's screenplay - an insightful tale that satirized politics, celebrity, media-obsession and television:

  • the view of enigmatic character of illiterate, TV-watching gardener Chance the Gardener or Chauncey Gardiner (Peter Sellers) and his fool-turned-prophet transformation
  • the short scene of black maid-cook Louise's (Ruth Attaway) cynical and contemptuous commentary on retarded Chance/Chauncey Gardiner's rise to power, while watching him on television and seeing the country's adoration for him: "It's for sure a white man's world in America....Look here: I raised that boy since he was the size of a piss-ant. And I'll say right now, he never learned to read and write. No, sir. Had no brains at all. Was stuffed with rice pudding between the ears. Shortchanged by the Lord, and dumb as a jack-ass. Look at him now! Yessir, all you've gotta be is white in America, to get whatever you want. Gobbledy-gook!"
  • the sequence of Dennis Watson's (Mitch Kreindel) hitting on Chauncey at a formal party with Chauncey's naive reply: "Is there a TV upstairs? I like to watch" and Dennis' delighted response: "You like to, uh, watch?... You wait right here. I'll go get Warren!"
  • Chauncey's simpleton lecture to President Bobby (Jack Warden) about how the garden grew: ("In a garden, growth has its season . . . as long as the roots are not severed, all will be well")
  • the protracted "seduction scene" in which dying financier's wife Eve Rand (Shirley MacLaine), love-starved and seductive, desperately tried to arouse an unresponsive Chauncey - he only responded, with a shocking but understandable line, that he "like(s) to watch" - and "it's very good, Eve"; she viewed his statement as an invitation to sexually arouse and stimulate herself; she complied with his request by reclining on the floor, and laid on top of a full-sized bear-skin rug while grabbing the bedpost; meanwhile, he was watching an exercise program on TV from the end of the nearby bed and mimicking the exercises (he even performed a hand-stand) - oblivious to her sexual pleasure as she masturbated herself nearby
Seduction Scene with Love Starved, Self-Pleasuring Eve Rand
  • the film's ending: the memorial funeral of sickly businessman-financier Benjamin Turnbull Rand (Melvyn Douglas), while one of the pallbearers discussed the protagonist's bid for the Presidency: "I do believe, gentlemen, if we want to hold on to the Presidency, our one and only chance is Chauncey Gardiner"
  • in the mystical, incongruous conclusion (accompanied by off/on-screen voices), the totally innocent idiot Chance-Chauncey Gardiner, who had wandered away from the ceremony into a wooded area closeby, blithely stepped onto a pond and literally walked on the water; he tested the depth of the water with the length of his umbrella - and then continued walking away from the camera
"Walking on Water"
  • the final words of the film were delivered by the President at the funeral, and were heard from a distance: "Life is a state of mind"

TV-Watching Chauncey

Black Maid Louise's Cynical Commentary on Chauncey

Dennis: "You like to, uh, watch?"

Garden Talk with the President

Funeral of Benjamin Rand


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