Being There

When: Sat., Nov. 30, 2 p.m. 2013

Peter Sellers is nothing short of brilliant in this alternately lovely and lacerating 1979 satire about Chance, a simple-minded gardener who, after an entire lifetime spent on the grounds of a modest Washington, D.C., home, suddenly finds himself out on the streets. A “chance” encounter, however, leads to him being invited into the majestic D.C. residence (actually filmed at Asheville’s Biltmore Estate) of politically connected millionaire Ben Rand (Melvyn Douglas, winning an Oscar) and his wife Eve (Shirley MacLaine). Both take an instant liking to Chance the gardener (whose name they take to be Chauncey Gardiner) and, like everyone else, they interpret his elementary observations as profound musings on the state of the nation. Soon, Chance has been reinvented as a scholar who knows no less than eight languages, an international man of mystery whose CIA and FBI files have reportedly been destroyed — much to the dismay of the U.S. president (Jack Warden) who would like some background info on the man whose advice he’s suddenly following. Amusingly, what seemed outrageous at the time — a man this stupid ascending this far in the national political arena — suddenly became factual with the election of George W. Bush. (Matt Brunson)

Price: Free admission

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