Benjamin Braddock, (superbly portrayed by Dustin Hoffman), has just graduated from college. A confused young man who is awkwardly making the transition between adolescence to adulthood, he is totally unsure of what to do with his future, let alone what to do next. As the film begins, the Braddocks are throwing a party for their son, the successful new grad. All his parents' financially secure and affluent friends are there to celebrate. Benjamin is not one of the happy participants, however. He returns to his room as if it were the womb, and watches the aquarium. It seems as if he longs for comfort and clarity, but doesn't know how to express himself or whom to ask. He attempts to talk with his father to no avail. He will spend much of the summer like this, contemplating the tropical fish and his future - which he sure doesn't want to be "in plastics."
Benjamin is expected to enter the bland suburban Californian society that his folks move in, filled with unhappy relationships, materialistic brinkmanship, and manicured lawns. He doesn't know what he wants to do, but he definitely knows what he doesn't want. Enter the famous Mrs. Robinson, and may I say BRAVO Anne Bancroft! Bored and unfulfilled, she is married to Benjamin's father's business partner. She obviously feels that Ben can temporarily alleviate her situation when she seduces him - or attempts to. He is initially unbelieving and reluctant, but persuadable. Filled with self-loathing, he continues the affair, which only punctuates his ineptness and his emptiness.
Elaine Robinson, (Katherine Ross), daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Robinson, is about to come home from college. Benjamin is forbidden to date her, by his lover, who happens to be her mother. Talk about incestuous! Of course the now jaded Benjamin and the fresh, lovely Elaine will go out, fall in love, and you'll have to see the movie for the rest. The conclusion is brilliant.
Anne Bancroft, in her gorgeous prime, is perfect as Mrs. Robinson. She is also sad, sarcastic, manipulative, at times really b*tchy, brittle in her beauty, and vulnerable in the role. If it were real life I would have asked her what she was doing with the virginal nerd, when she could do so much better!
The film holds up so well today, not only because of the brilliant acting, direction and screenplay, but because the Graduate's problems are not dissimilar from what many youths experience now. Nichols won the Best Director award for this movie. His pacing is fluid, and his imagery metaphorical, at times chillingly so. Writers Buck Henry and Calder Willingham, (working from Charles Webb's novel), did a remarkable job with their satirical, off-beat screenplay. Simon and Garfunkel songs, including "Scarborough Fair" and "The Sounds of Silence," give the film a wonderful lyrical tone.
A five-minute interview with Dustin Hoffman and a fascinating documentary "The Graduate at 25" make up the extra features on the DVD, along with a limited edition 64-page book with production notes and a collection of articles and reviews from the original theatrical release.
I remember watching "The Graduate" for the first time in 1968, and really relating. What can I say? I was young! Naive as this may sound, I did identify with the feelings stirred by the movie and performances. I still do, very much...no matter how retro. Now after almost 40 years, this is a classic!
Mike Nichols has directed a number of sexual/relationship comedies, including Carnal Knowledge (1971), Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? (1966), Nora Ephron's Heartburn (1986) and Carrie Fisher's Postcards from the Edge (1990). Nichols's films typically feature talented and charismatic actors and actresses who explore in a deceptively humorous manner the dark side of our human nature. The humor usually has an edgy quality while the taboo elements are somehow resolved into happy endings as in a musical comedy. Nichols likes to work with material from another medium and make it his own. Typically, The Graduate is adapted from the novel by Charles Webb. Nichols also likes to feature cutting edge popular music in the score. What we hear in the background and played over the opening credits is Simon and Garfunkel's "Sounds of Silence." Of course Paul Simon wrote the song "Mrs. Robinson" for this movie, but what I didn't realized until now is his "It's all happening at the zoo" was probably inspired in part by the zoo scene in this film.
Dustin Hoffman's confused and drifting Benjamin, worried about his future and suffocated by his parents' generation, knocked everybody out in those days with his dead-panned, literal delivery of one-liners, some of which were written by Buck Henry, who plays the desk clerk at the rendezvous hotel. I especially loved Ben's answer when his father, enquiring about his Quixotic plan to marry Mrs. Robinson's daughter Elaine (Katharine Ross), asks, "Isn't this a half-baked idea?" In dead seriousness, Benjamin says, "No, sir. It's completely baked."
Memorable is Norman Fell (whom most of us recall from TV's long-running comedy, Three's Company) in a small part as the landlord of the Berkeley rooming house. He is of course a past master at dead-panning one-liners; in fact, he is a master at mute dead-panning. One of the funniest bits in the movie is when the camera catches his face as Elaine's father comes out of Ben's room spewing obscenities and insults at Ben.
What we loved about this movie was the youthful point of view; the wonderful chase scene at the end, a Hollywood staple made fresh; the sympathetic character of Benjamin with whom we could readily identify; the cliché-ridden and shallow parents being slyly made fun of; and the sense of getting what we want out of life and doing it our own way. This is a coming-of-ager and a romance and a social satire rolled into one, and a classic Hollywood movie that no afficionado would want to miss.
But see this for Anne Bancroft, a brilliant and perhaps underrated actress in one of her most memorable roles.
The competition for awards in 1967 was tough from the likes of IN THE HEAT OF THE NIGHT and GUESS WHO'S COMING TO DINNER. Mike Nicholls, however, did manage to win an Oscar for Best Director and nominations were received for Best Actor (Dustin Hoffman), Best Actress (Anne Bancroft), Best Supporting Actress (Katherine Ross), Best Adapted Screenplay and Best Cinematography.
This product's forum
Active discussions in related forums
Search Customer Discussions