Book Vs Movie: “Being There”
The 1970 Satirical Novel Vs the 1979 Classic Film
The film Being There and its star Peter Sellers was a big deal in 1980 when the film was released. Based on a novella by Jerzy Kosinski (who won an Academy Award and Golden Globe for the screenplay) the story of “Chance”, a simple gardener who grew up on an estate and never experienced the outside world in an engaging way except for television for his whole life.
When his benefactor and/or father dies, he must leave his townhouse and try to forge a life for himself with no identity and no education. Luckily, he is soon being taken care of by elderly businessman Ben Rand and his younger wife Eve who mistakenly almost completely runs him over.
While she calls him “Chauncey Gardner,” we (the audience) know that his name is Chance and he has no idea what is happening in real life. When the President of the U.S. pays a visit to Rand, he is charmed by Chauncey’s lack of guile and a simplistic worldview.
Soon enough, Chauncey Gardner is the hit of Washington DC and the media that seeks his opinion on everything related to inflation and the economy.
The film, directed by Hal Ashby, is a modern classic taking on the shallowness of the media when it comes to uncovering “the truth” and pop culture.
So between the book and the film–which did we prefer? Have a listen and find out!
In this ep the Margos discuss:
- Author Jerzy Kosinski
- The road from the novel to the Hal Ashby-directed film
- The cast: Peter Sellers (Chance,) Shirley McLaine (Eve Rand,) Melvyn Douglas (Benjamin Rand,) Jack Warden (President Bobby,) Richard Dysart (Dr. Allenby,) Richard Baseheart (Vladamir Skrapinov,) Ruth Attaway (Louise,) David Clennon (Thomas Franklin,) and Fran Brill (Sally Hayes.)
- Chance meets the President
- Being There trailer
- Chance meets Thomas Franklin & Sally Hayes.
- Final scene deciding on whether or not to run him for President
- Basketball Jones by Cheech & Chong
- Being There theme music by Johnny Mandel
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