Tag Archives: Hal Ashby

The Set of 400: #206 – My Favorite Political Savant

Today! Because life is a state of mind –

Being There (1979)

Directed by Hal Ashby (x2)

Starring Peter Sellers (x2), Shirley MacLaine, Melvyn Douglas, Jack Warden, Richard Dysart, Richard Basehart (x2), James Noble, Alice Hirson, Elya Baskin (x2), Ruth Attaway

Hal Ashby’s brilliant decade came to an end with Being There, a character-based comedy featuring an absolutely brilliant turn by Peter Sellers as the simple minded gardener Chance. Upon the death of his boss, he’s thrust out into society, which he only knows from television, and while there are some fish out of water moments, the point of the story is more the way he looks at life. Sure, it can be a little schmaltzy, but figure, he’s surrounded by monstrous politicians and people who don’t understand who he is from the second he’s out in the world, and yet he’s not immediately crushed by the unbearable weight of foreign circumstance. He just gets by, unaffected, even though society is almost designed to destroy such a person. Chance the Gardener – later, Chauncey Gardner – makes it work.

Shirley MacLaine is also magnificent in this movie

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The Set of 400: #285 – My Favorite Faux Self-Immolation

Today! Because everyone has the right to make an ass out of themselves –

Harold and Maude (1971)

Directed by Hal Ashby

Starring Ruth Gordon, Bud Cort (x2), Vivian Pickles, Cyril Cusack, Eric Christmas, Tom Skerritt (x2), Ellen Geer, Shari Summers, Charles Tyner, William Lucking (x2)

One of the blackest comedies ever made, Harold and Maude became forever known as that movie where a teenage kid dates an elderly woman. And if that concept freaked you out, odds are you never sought the film out, despite its status as a true classic of New Hollywood cinema. It’s kinda like Nabokov’s Lolita – once you know the plot, you have to make the decision whether word of mouth and reviews are enough to get you to actually read it. Can you get out of the way of your own preconceived ideas, really.

(Lolita is an incredible book, by the way, but I doubt you needed me to tell you that.)

It’s weird, but it’s fun

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