Starring: Dustin Hoffman, Anne Bancroft, Katharine Ross, Williams Daniels, Murray Hamilton, Elizabeth Wilson, Buck Henry
Directed by: Mike Nichols
Synopsis: Recent college graduate Benjamin Braddock is trapped into an affair with Mrs. Robinson, who happens to be the wife of his father’s business partner and then finds himself falling in love with her daughter, Elaine.
Unbelievably, this is the first time I have ever seen The Graduate, which, now I have seen it, I understand is criminal. This film is rightly hailed a masterpiece, one of the best of all time. You can see it’s influence all over the likes of Wes Anderson’s work, one of the reasons why I loved it so much perhaps.
The Graduate is one of those films that is so famous in so many ways that I thought I might be let down. I mean, the SImon and Garfunkel song for a start is probably as famous if not more so than the film. The Mrs Robinson character has been satirised and copied in so many other films. Famous quotes and scenes abound. Would this ruin it for me? Not a chance. So there may be the odd flaw, but nothing that took away from my enjoyment.
Dustin Hoffman plays Ben, a recently graduate college boy. He is a nice guy and does as his parents wish. Until he meets Mrs Robinson (Anne Bancroft), the wife of his father’s business partner. She seduces him into an affair, where Ben suddenly gets some balls and starts standing up for himself. It’s a mutually beneficial relationship. She feeds him with confidence and he still makes her feel wanted and valid. The only sticking point is her teenage daughter Elaine, (Katharine Ross). Ben’s parents, and Mr Robinson are constantly trying to set him up on a date with Elaine. Mrs Robinson, for reasons unknown, but presumably jealousy, says that she will not allow it. Obviously, it happens regardless, Ben and Elaine fall for each other and things take a bad turn when the cat is let out of the bag about his affair with Elaine’s mum.
The Graduate whips along at a decent pace, there are some really funny moments, be it physical or vocal. The cast are all excellent, and it hasn’t really dated at all. Sure the settings have, but the themes are all still relevant. Dustin Hoffman and Anne Bancroft obviously steal the show. If you are willing to overlook the fact that Hoffman is clearly not twenty, and Bancroft is clearly not twice his age (in fact, Hoffman was thirty and Bancroft just six years older) then there is hardly a false step in the film at all. The only thing that I felt was a bit of a stretch was that Elaine would even consider going out with Ben after finding out the truth. Yet, one day she hated him and the next day was considering his marriage proposal! Hey, it was the sixties I guess.
The Graduate’s influence looms large, not least, like I said, on films such as Wes Anderson’s Rushmore and a small indie film I reviewed recently called Beach Pillows by Sean Hartofilis. The soundtrack by Simon and Garfunkel is exquisite, and again, put me in mind of some of Anderson’s best OST moments.
The Graduate, as we all know by now, helped kick start the new golden age of Hollywood, which continued through the rest of the sixties and all through the seventies, and it’s not hard to see why. It really was special.