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Being There

Hal Ashby, USA 1979, 130’
Coming Home

An uneducated, illiterate white man who gets all his information from watching television becomes President of the United States after his brand of empty populist rhetoric convinces a shadowy cabal of political kingmakers that he is the right man to lead the country. Sound familiar? In the past couple of years, Being There has certainly gained an extra level of ironic significance in the light of recent happenings in the U.S., but the culmination of Ashby's remarkable 1970s output was already considered a classic. Based on Jerzy Kosinski's novel of the same name, Being There is a deft comic parable about the naive, childlike Chauncey Gardner (Peter Sellers) who, after the death of his employer, leaves his cloistered existence and enters the world of the Washington, D.C. elite. Sellers gives an iconic, Oscar-nominated performance as the man whose simplistic statements are interpreted as the koans of a genius, and Shirley MacLaine, Jack Warden and Melvyn Douglas (an Oscar winner for his turn as a fading powerbroker) provide inspired support. In Being There, Ashby achieves a balancing of tones that seems impossible, creating a film that is at once incisively satirical and gently accepting of its characters' flaws. It is the essence of Ashby's genius.

Nick Dawson

awards

Oscars 1980 - Best Actor in a Supporting Role

Hal Ashby

Hal Ashby, in full William Hal Ashby, (1929-1988), American filmmaker, one of the preeminent directors of the 1970s, who was especially noted for such films as Harold and Maude (1971), Shampoo (1975), and Being There (1979). 

Selected filmography

1970 Właściciel / The Landlord

1971 Harold i Maude / Harold and Maude

1973 Ostatnie zadanie / The Last Detail

1975 Szampon / Shampoo

1976 By nie pełzać na kolanach / Bound for Glory

1978 Powrót do domu / Coming Home

1979 Wystarczy być / Being There

Cast & Crew

director Hal Ashby
screenplay Jerzy Kosiński
cinematography Caleb Deschanel
editing Don Zimmerman
music Johnny Mandel
cast Peter Sellers, Shirley MacLaine, Melvyn Douglas
producer Andrew Braunsberg
production BSB, CIP, Lorimar Film Entertainment
sales Warner
language English
coloration colour
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