The Graduate (1967)

the graduate poster 1967 movie dustin hoffman
10 Overall Score
Story: 10/10
Acting: 10/10
Visuals: 10/10

Early, great modern Hollywood movie


Movie Info

Movie Name: The Graduate

Studio: Embassy Pictures

Genre(s): Comedy/Drama

Release Date(s): December 21, 1967

MPAA Rating: R

the graduate aquarium benjamin braddock dustin hoffman

I’m worried about my future…

Benjamin Braddock (Dustin Hoffman) has a problem.  He’s graduated college and instead of wanting to move forward, finds himself enjoying doing nothing.  When he begins an affair with his parents’ friend Mrs. Robinson (Anne Bancroft), the summer seems to blend one day into the next.  Unfortunately, Mrs. Robinson has a daughter named Elaine (Katharine Ross), and his parents’ attempts to set her up with Elaine could mean Ben and Mrs. Robinson are headed for a showdown.

Directed by Mike Nichols, The Graduate comedy drama.  It is an adaptation of the 1963 novel by Charles Webb.  The movie was well received by critics and fans and received the Academy Award for Best Director with nominations for Best Actor (Hoffman), Best Actress (Bancroft), Best Supporting Actress (Ross), Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Cinematography, and Best Picture (losing to In the Heat of the Night).  The film was selected for preservation in the National Film Registry by the Library of Congress in 1996.  It frequently makes “Best Of” lists and received a remastered release by the Criterion Collection (Criterion #800).

the graduate benjamin mrs robinson dustin hoffman anne bancroft hotel

Want to go upstairs and shake hands?

The Graduate was a movie I watched multiple times when I “discovered” it.  The story connected and the characters felt real.  The period when you begin “adulting” is a weird, scary, and frustrating time…and the characters of The Graduate were experiencing it in a conflicted time in America  As a result, The Graduate was one of those big cultural hits that still resonates today. Lines from the movie still pop-up in films, TV shows, commercials, etc. “Mrs. Robinson, you’re trying to seduce me…aren’t you?” and “Plastics” are often on top movie lines.  The Graduate is a classic.

The story dips from humor to drama, but even though it is a love story, it also really isn’t a love story.  Elaine and Benjamin have had their futures decided by their parents and they are rebelling against that.  It was something that was happening all over America as the hippie movement was starting to grow.  Even though it was rather tied to the times, they are general feelings about growing up and growing out of the life you have when you were under your parents’ wing.

the graduate art mrs robinson benjamin braddock anne bancroft dustin hoffman

What I did on my summer vacation…

As seen with the multiple nominations, the acting in The Graduate is really strong.  The Graduate was in planning for years with tons of cast changes.  Jack Nicholson, Robert Redford, Burt Ward, and Charles Groden were all considered for Benjamin Braddock’s role (he had been a pretty boy in the novel), and Sally Field, Patty Duke, and Natalie Woods were considered for Elaine.  For Mrs. Robinson, Patricia Neal, Suzanne Hayward, and Doris Day were allegedly all considered before Bancroft was hired…the famous leg shot is actually Linda Gray’s leg.  Regardless who was considered, the selected cast really meshed.  They work well off each other and help make the characters feel real.

The film also feels very modern.  Films were changing around the time The Graduate was made, and the film is one of the new breed of films.  The movie was one of the first movies to really utilize popular music for its soundtrack (Simon & Garfunkel), and the score combines with the scenes to give a real atmosphere.  The pretty world of the upper-class of Los Angeles blends into the growing counter culture world of Berkeley, and the shooting style of the film also reflects it.

the graduate ending bus elaine benjamin dustin hoffman katharine ross

We’re finally free!!! Now what…

With strong acting, a great script really helps The Graduate connect.  Everyone knows what it is like to be unable to decide their future.  The movie doesn’t give any simple answers.  Benjamin Braddock was the first slacker…the first Ferris Bueller.  He just enjoyed not doing anything.  The movie also doesn’t end in a regular traditional sense.  Benjamin is unable to stop the wedding…Elaine gets married but still runs off with Ben.  It is obvious in the last shot of the movie they are proud of themselves, but they have no clue what to do about the future.  It still feels fresh and fun and relevant.  It is a great film that I can still watch over-and-over again.  The performances are just very smart…even by the smaller supporting roles.  So if you’ve never seen it, check out The Graduate…and remember one thing…one word…Plastics.

Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter/Instagram/Letterboxd @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

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