The Graduate

01 Mar

Benjamin Braddock (played by Dustin Hoffman) has recently graduated from college. On the day of his triumphant return home, his father (by William Daniels) and mother (by Elizabeth Wilson) have arranged a huge ‘Welcome Home’ party for him. All their friends come along and can’t wait to congratulate Benjamin on his marvellous, prize-winning academic achievement. Benjamin is reluctant to join the party, but does so – just to appease his parents. He gets a chance to escape – one of his parents’ friends, Mrs Robinson (by Anne Bancroft), asks him to drive her home. When they arrive at the Robinson’s home, Mrs Robinson asks him to accompany her inside to wait until Mr Robinson returns, as she is frightened to be alone. Benjamin obliges and inside the house they have an encounter which leaves forthright Mrs Robinson frustrated and innocent Benjamin alarmed and confused. As soon as Mr Robinson (by Murray Hamilton) arrives home, Benjamin rushes away. But somehow the interaction with Mrs Robinson leaves an impression on Benjamin that he can’t shake – they begin an affair. As the weeks pass, Benjamin becomes moody and disengaged, his parents and friends try to cheer him up and suggest he dates the Robinsons’ daughter, Elaine (by Katharine Ross). Under sufferance, he takes her out. Benjamin finds Elaine curiously alluring and things start to get complicated when her mother, Mrs Robinson, realises her young daughter may draw Benjamin away from her. Benjamin realises he’s falling in love with Elaine so he decides to come clean with her – that’s when things get really messy …

This movie is strange and great at the same time. The story is quite provocative as it covers issues of infidelity, loyalty, honesty and morality. As Benjamin Braddock, Dunstin Hoffman’s performance, whilst award winning – is strangely wooden. His dialogue is robotic and in several places he appears to be in a trance – perhaps I’ve missed something. The performance of Benjamin’s parents is funny – but I guess that’s how all well-heeled parents behaved at that time. Anne Bancroft is good and she deserves the nomination for Best Actress – Mrs Robinson is a manipulative, frustrated and jealous woman who tries to satisfy her own needs first but also looks after the security of her family (regardless of the lies she has to tell to do it). As Elaine, Katharine Ross is lovely – it’s such a wide-eyed innocent performance. She won a Best Newcomer BAFTA and Golden Globe and was nominated for Best Support Actress Academy Award (Oscar) for this work. Dustin Hoffman won the Best Actor Oscar and a Golden Globe and BAFTA for Most Promising Newcomer. The Screenplay is award winning also, and co-writer Buck Henry appears as Hotel Desk clerk in the movie. It’s great to see a very young Richard Dreyfus in one short scene also. The production is certainly different – somewhat stilted, in several places it reminds me of Stanley Kubrick’sClockwork Orange”, which came later (1971). Cinematography is dramatic, probably innovative for its time. The director, Mike Nichols, and the movie won Academy Awards, Golden Globes, BAFTA and several other awards. It’s great to hear this score – the original versions of the Simon and Garfunkel songs “Sounds of Silence”, “Scarborough Fair” and of course “Mrs Robinson” – the Original score won Paul Simon and Dave Grusin a Grammy in 1969.  It’s certainly a movie that leaves an impression.

Made in 1967.  Directed by Mike Nichols.

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Posted by on March 1, 2015 in Movies


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