December 8, 2016

"This is when I knew he’s a true Republican."

Said Shirley MacLaine about Clint Eastwood:
"Quite brilliant, and funny… because he’s so laconic and doesn’t know it. I adore him… I remember when we were doing Two Mules for Sister Sara, his horse was acting up. This is when I knew he’s a true Republican: He got off the horse, looked at the horse, and socked him."
I ran into that today because — as noted earlier — we just watched "Being There." I was looking for more material about the character MacLaine played in that movie. Did "Eve" really love Chance the gardener? Not only is the answer yes, but Chance loved her, I think, because MacLaine says: 
"Two years [after I made 'Being There'], I’m at a restaurant and [producer] Dick Zanuck walks up to me and says, ‘What’s it like to have a love affair with Peter Sellers?’ I said, ‘He’s not my type, and I didn’t. What are you talking about?’ He said, ‘I would go into Peter’s dressing room, and he would be on the phone with you doing sex talk.’ I tried to put all this together… It was Dick who figured out, ‘Listen, he became Chauncey Gardner, he was in love with the character you played, and if he had interrupted it with a lunch or dinner, the whole illusion had been shattered.’”

32 comments:

HoodlumDoodlum said...

Cinematic reenactment of the event.

HoodlumDoodlum said...

From Peter Sellers' Wikipedia page:

He refused to seek professional help for his mental issues.[239] Sellers would claim that he had no personality and was almost unnoticeable, which meant that he "needed a strongly defined character to play".[240] He would make similar references throughout his life: when he appeared on The Muppet Show in 1978, a guest appearance that earned him an Emmy nomination for Outstanding Continuing or Single Performance by a Supporting Actor in Variety or Music,[241] he chose not to appear as himself, instead appearing in a variety of costumes and accents. When Kermit the Frog told Sellers he could relax and be himself, Sellers replied:

But that, you see, my dear Kermit, would be altogether impossible. I could never be myself ... You see, there is no me. I do not exist ... There used to be a me, but I had it surgically removed.

— Peter Sellers, The Muppet Show, February 1978[242]

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Later in 1979, Sellers starred opposite Shirley MacLaine, Melvyn Douglas and Jack Warden in the black comedy Being There as Chance, a mindless, emotionless gardener addicted to watching TV.[245] In a BBC interview in 1971, Sellers had said that more than anything else, he wanted to play the role, and successfully persuaded the author of the book Jerzy Kosinski to allow him and director Hal Ashby to make the film, provided he could write the script.[246][247] During filming, to remain in character, Sellers refused most interview requests and kept his distance from the other actors.

Sebastian said...

"This is when I knew he’s a true Republican: He got off the horse, looked at the horse, and socked him." Just what we need. Soon, a new meme will add animal cruelty to the sins of GOPers. Because Clint.

William Chadwick said...

She would have known he was a true Democrat if he'd forced other people to pay for the horse's oats.

William Chadwick said...

She would have known he was a true Democrat if he'd forced other people to pay for the horse's oats.

rehajm said...

She's a wackadoodle.

Bad Lieutenant said...

Yeah, but what a Betty, back in the day!

Hagar said...

Shirley MacLaine is an actress and a good one. I don't think I would take anything she put out for public consumption very seriously.

Ann Althouse said...

This surprised me, in Roger Ebert's 1980 review of "Being There": "Sellers plays a mentally retarded gardener...."

I didn't think of Chance as "mentally retarded." That was a polite enough term back then. That's not my problem.

I didn't think of the character as having a particular diagnosable disorder or deficit. I thought of him as someone who'd had a radically cloistered life — raised by television. And that had made him into something very strange in weirdly good and bad ways. He was kind of a saint or mystic or holy fool. It's much less interesting as a fable if you think: Well, he's "mentally retarded." If it's just a common affliction, why don't other people recognize it?

Michael K said...

The scene, Hoodlum, was from "Blazing Saddles, " a favorite of mine.

I'm sure you knew that but it is still as funny.

Eastwood is not only a Republican but was Mayor of Carmel. He was getting hassled by the city over his restaurant, "The Boar's Breath Inn," and he decided to do something about it. He ran for Mayor and got 72% of the vote.

Hassled with rules, regulations, and taxes regarding building permits and zoning laws, and tired of getting the runaround and going through endless miles of red tape with the city, Clint decided to fight back.

The breaking point was when the preservationist-dominated town council automatically rejected Clint's plans to build a small building in downtown Carmel that would have improved the surrounding area. Clint promptly sued the city winning an out-of-court settlement that permitted him to proceed with his building.


He later sued the law firm that was running a fake "Disability Parking spaces" scam and got them disbarred.

Don't fuck with him. He is almost as tough as Mattis.

n.n said...

She chose, she conceived, she aborted.

Barry Dauphin said...

Chance was raised in a radically cloistered life and raised on TV. Of course, that was the TV of a by-gone era. A remake of Being There would have the character raised on TV shows like The Walking Dead, Game of Thrones, etc. Might come out a bit different.

richlb said...

From punching horses to punching kangaroos. My how we've advanced.

Krumhorn said...

Being There is one of my all-time top favorite movies. For Sellers, it was a magnificently controlled performance that skirted to the very edge of absurdity....but he did not cross it. I recently had a series of conversations (during an unrelated negotiation) with Hal Ashby's widow. I learned some very interesting things from her about that production.

I suppose that final scene of Chance walking on water was a bit screwball, but his scenes with Shirley in the bedroom....I like to watch.... was comedy gold and Laslo-worthy.

- Krumhorn

lgv said...

I was required to read the book in college English class in 1977. I'm 18 and remember thinking about how awful this book is. It's one of the rare occasions where the movie was far more interesting than the book. I found Maclaine and Sellers more interesting than how I read them in the book, especially Seller's chance.

HoodlumDoodlum said...

Michael K said...The scene, Hoodlum, was from "Blazing Saddles, " a favorite of mine.
I'm sure you knew that but it is still as funny.


Mine as well, Dr. K; how sad to realize that movie could never be made today.

Ann Althouse said... It's much less interesting as a fable if you think: Well, he's "mentally retarded." If it's just a common affliction, why don't other people recognize it?

Still from Sellers' wiki page: Sellers considered Chance's walking and voice the character's most important attributes, and in preparing for the role, he worked alone with a tape recorder, or with his wife, and then with Ashby, to perfect the clear enunciation and flat delivery needed to reveal "the childlike mind behind the words".

Sellers's performance was universally lauded by critics and is considered by critic Danny Smith to be the "crowning triumph of Peter Sellers's remarkable career".[246] Critic Frank Rich wrote that the acting skill required for this sort of role, with a "schismatic personality that Peter had to convey with strenuous vocal and gestural technique ... A lesser actor would have made the character's mental dysfunction flamboyant and drastic ... [His] intelligence was always deeper, his onscreen confidence greater, his technique much more finely honed"

So Rich calls it a mental dysfunction--that's probably more palatable than "retardation," but from what I've seen the medical community defines mental disorders/dysfunction as those things that interfere with one's life...and Chance seemed to get along just fine, no?

Howard said...

Of course he's not retarded. He is just an Dull Normal, like Forest, Forest Gump

viator said...

Does that mean when my wife socks me she is a Republican?

viator said...

Peter Sellers as both Dr. Fantástico and President Merkin Muffley.

We'll Meet Again

Fernandinande said...

richlb said...
From punching horses to punching kangaroos. My how we've advanced.


But the kangaroo punching actually happened.

viator said...

richlb said...From punching horses to punching kangaroos. My how we've advanced.
The roo asked for it.

exhelodrvr1 said...

viator,
Not if they are safe socks.

gadfly said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
gadfly said...

From the July 21, 1992 Wall Street Journal:

Shirley MacLaine spent three days with the Dalai Lama during the Earth Summit in Rio and Warren Beatty's wacky sister sounds a lot like she is in the ozone again.

"He inspired me to look hard at my materialistic ways." says Shirl. "I am considering giving away everything. It would be so liberating."

Quickly Warren, the high-pressure hose!

Bay Area Guy said...

Is there anyone even close to Clint in modern day Hollywood? The guy has been a superstar for nearly 50 years.

And, he became a superstar Director, at what, age 65 or so?

Reagan got pilloried for making a couple movies with a Chimp - "Bedtime for Bonzo" - yet Clint made two movies about Bakersfield brawlers with that Orangatang, Clyde, "Every Which Way But Loose" and "Any Which Way You Can," and Clint remains a Hollywood legend.



Bay Area Guy said...

Clint on a talk-show with Muhammad Ali circa 1969 .

Legends (no Peter Sellers, though).

madAsHell said...

I thought of him as someone who'd had a radically cloistered life — raised by television.

Enter Obama.

Left Bank of the Charles said...

Shirley's answer to the question, does your dog bite?

Paul Snively said...

Howard: Of course he's not retarded. He is just an Dull Normal, like Forest, Forest Gump

But Forrest is mildly mentally retarded, but is intelligent enough to know it.

"He's the most beautiful thing I've ever seen. But... is... is he smart, or..."

Go head. Don't burst into tears. I dare you.

tim maguire said...

Blogger Ann Althouse said...If it's just a common affliction, why don't other people recognize it?

Because when they found him, he was well groomed and well dressed. My reading of the movie is that because of his state when they found him, they assumed he was an accomplished and intelligent man and so interpreted everything he said through that lense. When he talked about gardening, they assumed he was speaking metaphorically, but really he was just talking about gardening. They didn't see it because they couldn't look past their own expectations. When that guy at the end asked, ""do you think he really is just a gardener?," that was the little boy shouting "the Emperor has no clothes!"

That's why back in 2009 we used to talk about President Chauncey and Being There as the perfect metaphor for the Obama administration. Again and again Obama would say something superficial and mundane and his sycophants would react like he was giving them manna from heaven. Writers were constantly shoehorning Obama statements into their work in an effort to make their drab writing seem more important. ("As president Obama once said, 'when it's your bedtime, you should go to bed'.")

I can understand your not wanting to notice that parallel.

tim maguire said...

Ironically, Obama shouted "the Emperor has no clothes!" himself. ("I serve as a blank screen on which people of vastly different political stripes project their own views.") It takes balls to call bullshit on your own supporters. Of course, my lense has me unsure if he knew what he was saying.

mikee said...

Does Shirley realize the character she played in Being There, while supposedly of a staunchly right wing gazillionaire, actually represents the shallow and mindless nature of leftists today?