Director: Mike Nichols
Original Release: 1967
My Overall Rating: 3 stars out of 5
The Graduate is a genuine film classic, if only for the fact that it was the breakthrough performance for Dustin Hoffman, arguably the premier dramatic actor of his generation (relax De Niro fans - I like your guy, too). But the movie is so much more than that, a beautifully shot work that won Mike Nichols his only Best Director Oscar. Benjamin Braddock (Hoffman) has just graduated from college on the East Coast and comes home to California, not quite sure of his next step. His parents and their friends have plenty of advice. Partly out of boredom, Ben starts an affair with Mrs. Robinson (Anne Bancroft), wife of one of his father's business partners. Things get really interesting when Ben meets his lover's daughter, Elaine (Katharine Ross), and falls in love with her.
The story of a cross-generational romantic triangle is definitely on the risque side, though probably less so now than it was 47 years ago. The lightning-quick shots of Mrs. Robinson's naked breasts were surprising to our 10-year-old girl but no long-term damage, I expect. The film is officially PG, though only because the PG-13 rating didn't exist in 1967. I first watched the movie when I was in high school and can say with certainty that seeing it in a later stage of life is an entirely different experience (have I mentioned Friday's bloghop?). I wouldn't say I switched allegiances from Ben to Mrs. Robinson as critic Roger Ebert claimed he did but I certainly appreciate more of the film's subtle humor now.
I give the film a 3 because I really don't feel I need to watch it again. There are moments of undeniable genius in The Graduate but slow pacing late in the story detracts a bit. However, it seems only inevitable that I will watch the movie again some day. It just pops up from time to time.
As for music, the song most closely identified with The Graduate is "Mrs. Robinson." Paul Simon's original title was "Mrs. Roosevelt" but he changed it to suit the film. Interestingly, the entire song is never played during the movie - no verses at all, only the chorus and a wonderful instrumental reduction. Of course, that doesn't mean we can't listen to the whole thing here...
"The Sounds of Silence," "April Comes She Will" and "Scarborough Fair/Canticle" also feature prominently.