I’ve only seen a couple of Hal Ashby films – Harold and Maude and now this one – and though both are highly acclaimed, they both left me feeling pretty uncomfortable. I’m sure that’s the point, but it’s not an uncomfortable I appreciate.
In this one, simple-minded Chance (Peter Sellers) has been gardener to a rich man all his life. He’s never left the house, never really talked with anyone, never learned to read, never even gets his own meals – he just tends the garden and watches TV. When the old guy dies, lawyers come and tell him he’s got to leave, just like that, and after roaming the streets of Washington D.C., he finally ends up being hit by Shirley MacLaine’s car and she takes him home to get checked out by her ailing husband’s live-in medical team (mainly thinking to hush up the accident). His simple way of thinking is refreshing to the upper-crust Washington political elite, and he ends up an accidental and unconscious celebrity, with everyone taking his simplicity as wisdom.