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Being There starring Peter Sellers: Saturday Matinee #book2movie

Poster for Being There (1979) starring Peter Sellers

Peter Sellers in Being There


Peter Sellers, born today, September 8th, in 1925 died in 1980 at the age of fifty-four, after suffering a heart attack. He was plagued by heart disease for much of his life and was fitted with a pacemaker in 1977. During one interview with Sellers, a journalist noted: 
"I understand you've had some heart attacks . . ." the reporter began, before Mr. Sellers interrupted him with gallows humor: "Yes, but I plan to give them up. I'm down to two a day."
While the actor is considered a comic genius, well known for playing the over-the-top Inspector Clouseau in the Pink Panther movies and Dr. Strangelove, he received one of three Oscar nominations for his deliberately low key performance as Chance, the Gardener in Being There in 1979. The film was based on the Jerzy Kosinski novel. Kosinski, in fact, wrote the screenplay. 

Image result for Jerzy Kosinski, being there, book

About the book
A modern classic now available from Grove Press, Being There is one of the most popular and significant works from a writer of international stature. It is the story of Chauncey Gardiner - Chance, an enigmatic but distinguished man who emerges from nowhere to become an heir to the throne of a Wall Street tycoon, a presidential policy adviser, and a media icon. Truly "a man without qualities," Chance's straightforward responses to popular concerns are heralded as visionary. But though everyone is quoting him, no one is sure what he's really saying. And filling in the blanks in his background proves impossible. Being There is a brilliantly satiric look at the unreality of American media culture that is, if anything, more trenchant now than ever.
Shirley MacLaine and Peter Sellers in Being There 

Shirley Maclaine and Peter Sellers in Being There


The cast is filled with heavyweights of the period: Shirley Maclaine, Melvyn Douglas, Jack Warden, Richard Dysart, and Richard Basehart. 

Peter Sellers in Being There (1979)
In 1980, famed film critic Roger Ebert wrote in Seller’s obit: 
If Mr. Sellers was correct in saying that he had no personality of his own to portray, then perhaps his performance in "Being There" was his most autobiographical. He played Chauncey, a strange, middle-aged man raised entirely in isolation, with television as his only source of information on how to behave. The character's utter simplicity and transparency led statesmen to imagine they had discovered great depths in him. It was a virtuoso performance, made all the more difficult because Mr. Sellers had to sustain a single note throughout the movie.

Released in 1979—it was Sellers’s second to last film role— Being There, directed by Hal Ashby is available to stream today’s Saturday Matinee on Amazon Prime, YouTube, iTunes, GooglePlay, and Vudu.

Take a gander at the trailer...are you ready to dig into the entire film?

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