Movie #108: The Graduate (1967)

Director: Mike Nichols

Starring: Anne Bancroft, Dustin Hoffman, Katharine Ross, William Daniels, and Murray Hamilton

Academy Awards (1968):

Best Director: Mike Nichols

Academy Award Nominations:

Best Actor in a Leading Role: Dustin Hoffman

Best Actress in a Leading Role: Anne Bancroft

Best Actress in a Supporting Role: Katharine Ross

Best Cinematography: Robert Surtees

Best Picture: Lawrence Turman

Best Writing, Screenplay Based on Material from Another Medium: Calder Willingham, Buck Henry

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Recent college graduate Benjamin Braddock (Hoffman) doesn’t know what to do with his life.  He spends his days lounging at the pool, and doing the whole, “What’s next for me?” routine.  Mrs. Robinson, Ben’s dad’s business partner’s wife, and Ben eventually begin an almost exclusively physical affair.  Eventually Ben wants more out of it, and they end up breaking off their escapades.  Things change, though, when Ben falls in love with the Robinson’s daughter Elaine (Ross).

The Graduate has drama, romance, and comedy all rolled into one with this coming of age film about a young man trying to figure out what he wants to do with his life.

thegraduate1I thought Dustin Hoffman performed well.  His awkwardness with Mrs. Robinson at the beginning of the movie was great.  There is that transition period in relationships with others as a younger person starts relating to other adults on a more adult level.  At the same time, it takes some getting used to.  Hoffman pulls this off nicely even though Bancroft is only 6 years older than him in real life.  However, Hoffman doesn’t quite have the look of a man in his early 20s, he was 30 when the film was made.

This is the sort of film that I get a little more out of with each viewing.  I’ve been able to see and appreciate a lot of the wit and comedic/satirical elements of this film.

The opening shot of The Graduate with Ben standing on a moving sidewalk in the airport sets a more low-key tone for the film.  It helps establish the “now what” mentality that Ben has as he’s finished college and isn’t sure what to do next.  At times, especially for the first half of the film, I felt a lot like Benjamin, disinterested and bored.

For me, the film picked up and became great once Elaine came into the picture.  Since Ben’s affair with Mrs. Robinson had become stagnant, adding in a new dynamic was the right move, and while I think Hoffman had great chemistry with Bancroft, it seemed exponentially better with Katharine Ross.  Maybe since their characters were much closer in age, dealing with the same uncertainties and whatnot.  It just seemed like their characters played off each other better.

The soundtrack by Simon and Garfunkel plays well throughout the film.  The way their songs were integrated after Elaine went back to school really slowed down the film and added for the dramatic effect.

Ben’s drive to the church to Simon and Garfunkel’s song “Mrs. Robinson” is good, but the fact that it’s been redone shows just how great that whole sequence is.  My personal favorite it the homage in Wayne’s World 2, here.

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The final shot of the film is great and sets the plot apart from your fairytale ending.  In my book that’s a big plus when a filmmaker and performers add that layer of realism.

The Graduate is a gem of a film.  Drama, romance, and comedy sprinkled throughout made this enjoyable to watch.  Balanced acting chemistry between the three leads really showcased the acting talent of Anne Bancroft, Dustin Hoffman, and Katharine Ross and made more a memorable film.

My Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars.

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