Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Mike Nichols|
|Produced by||Joseph E. Levine
|Screenplay by||Calder Willingham
|Based on||The Graduate
by Charles Webb
|Editing by||Sam O'Steen|
|Distributed by||United Artists
|Running time||105 minutes|
The Graduate is a 1967 American comedy-drama film directed by Mike Nichols. It is based on the 1963 novel The Graduate by Charles Webb, who wrote it shortly after graduating from Williams College. The screenplay was by Buck Henry, who makes a cameo appearance as a hotel clerk, and Calder Willingham.
The film tells the story of Benjamin Braddock (played by Dustin Hoffman), a recent university graduate with no well-defined aim in life, who is seduced by an older woman, Mrs. Robinson (Anne Bancroft), and then proceeds to fall in love with her daughter Elaine (Katharine Ross).
In 1996, The Graduate was selected for preservation in the U.S. National Film Registry as being "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant". Initially, the film was placed at #7 on AFI's 100 Years... 100 Movies list in 1998. When AFI revised the list in 2007, the film was moved to #17.
Adjusted for inflation, the film is #21 on the list of highest-grossing films in the United States and Canada.
Benjamin Braddock, who will soon turn 21, returns to his parents' home in the Los Angeles area after graduating from a college on the East Coast. At his graduation party, all his parents' friends want to know about Benjamin's upcoming plans for graduate school or a career, something about which Benjamin is clearly uncomfortable and anxious. His parents ignore his anxiety and are only interested in talking about his academic and athletic successes and their plans for him to attend graduate school.
Mrs. Robinson, the wife of his father's law partner, asks Benjamin to drive her home from the party. She invites Benjamin inside and attempts to seduce him, removing her clothes. She tells Benjamin, who becomes increasingly nervous, that she finds him attractive and wants him to know that she is available to him anytime. Mr. Robinson arrives home but neither sees nor suspects anything. He advises Benjamin that he should relax and enjoy his youth while he still can. A few days later, following a humiliating incident with a well-intentioned but absurd birthday gift from his parents, Benjamin contacts Mrs. Robinson and organizes a tryst at a hotel, and their affair begins.
Benjamin spends the summer floating in a pool by day and meeting Mrs. Robinson at the hotel at night. Through their encounters, Benjamin discovers that they have nothing in common but also learns that Mrs. Robinson was forced to give up college and marry someone whom she did not love when she became pregnant with her daughter, Elaine.
However, under increasing pressure from his parents to begin a career or enroll in grad school, Benjamin is set up on a date with Elaine, whom Benjamin last saw in high school, by his father and Mr. Robinson. Although Mrs. Robinson has made it clear to Benjamin that he is to have nothing to do with Elaine, Benjamin eventually succumbs to the pressure and takes Elaine out on a date. During the course of their date, Benjamin goes out of his way to mistreat and be rude to Elaine, even going as far as taking her to a lewd strip joint, in order to sabotage the evening. Upon seeing Elaine sobbing, Benjamin kisses her. He explains his motives and that he only asked her out on a date as an obligation from each of their fathers. The two reconcile and each discover that they are able to discuss their current worries and their plans for future happiness.
Upon Benjamin's arriving at the Robinsons' home to take Elaine out again, Mrs. Robinson threatens to reveal to Elaine her earlier relationship with Benjamin. However, Benjamin preemptively blurts out the details of his affair to Elaine before Mrs. Robinson can make good on her threat. Upset and heartbroken, Elaine returns to college at Berkeley and severs all communication with him.
Benjamin resolves that he must marry Elaine and follows her to Berkeley. There, he finds Elaine and accompanies her to a date between her and a classmate, Carl Smith. Later that evening, Elaine confronts Benjamin, asking what he is doing there after having raped her mother while she was drunk. Benjamin reveals his side of the story to Elaine and that he was the one who was pursued by Mrs. Robinson, which further upsets Elaine. Benjamin tells Elaine he will leave her alone, but Elaine asks him to remain.
The following day, Elaine confronts Benjamin again and asks him to kiss her. Although Benjamin wants to marry Elaine and presses her to obtain a blood test so they can wed, Elaine laments that she has already told Carl that she might marry him. Mr. Robinson, who has learned about his wife's affair with Benjamin, goes to Benjamin's apartment in Berkeley and berates him, threatening to have him prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law, should Benjamin ever come near Elaine again. He forces Elaine to drop out of school and takes her away to marry Carl. Elaine leaves Benjamin a note saying that although she loves him, her father's anger would prevent the family from ever accepting Benjamin as Elaine's husband.
Benjamin races back south looking for Elaine but finds Mrs. Robinson, who tells him he cannot stop the wedding. Benjamin learns from Carl's fraternity brothers that the wedding is taking place in Santa Barbara. En route to the church, his car runs out of gas, forcing him to run the final few blocks to the chapel, arriving just in time to see Elaine and Carl, already married, in the traditional kiss. Watching from the loft at the back of the church, Benjamin bangs on the glass window and screams, "Elaine!" several times, in a desperate attempt to win her over. With some hesitation, Elaine returns a cry of "Ben!" and rushes toward Benjamin. A brawl breaks out as everyone tries to stop her and Benjamin from leaving. Elaine manages to break free from her mother, who claims "It's too late!", to which Elaine replies, "Not for me!" Benjamin and Elaine escape the chapel by barring the chapel's double doors with a wooden cross, trapping the attendees inside. Benjamin and Elaine then flag down a bus. After making their way to the back seat of the bus as it pulls away, Elaine in her wedding dress and Benjamin in tattered clothing, they both initially appear ecstatic about their dramatic escape. Gradually however, this exhilaration subsides, with Benjamin just looking forward and Elaine occasionally looking at Benjamin, into realization of what they have done.
In the closing shot, Elaine and Benjamin are shown through the rear window sitting at the back of the bus as it travels down the road.
|This section does not cite any references or sources. (January 2013)|
According to TCM host Robert Osborne, "Mike Nichols wanted Doris Day for Mrs. Robinson, Robert Redford for Benjamin Braddock, and Gene Hackman for Mr. Robinson." But there were numerous actors and actresses considered or tested for, or who wanted, roles in the film.
Day turned down the offer because she believed the film was not for her. Nichols' actual first choice for Mrs. Robinson was French actress Jeanne Moreau. The idea behind this was that in the French culture, the "older" women tended to "train" the younger men in sexual matters. Joan Crawford inquired as to play the part, while Ingrid Bergman and Audrey Hepburn both wanted the role. Patricia Neal turned down the film as she had recently recovered from a stroke and did not feel ready to accept such a major role. Geraldine Page also turned it down. Other actresses considered for the part included Claire Bloom, Angie Dickinson, Judy Garland, Rita Hayworth, Jennifer Jones, Deborah Kerr, Eva Marie Saint, Simone Signoret, Jean Simmons, Lana Turner, and Shelley Winters. Angela Lansbury also asked about playing the part. Ava Gardner sought the role of Mrs. Robinson, and reportedly called Nichols saying,"I want to see you! I want to talk about this Graduate thing!". Nichols did not seriously consider her for the role (he wanted a younger woman as Bancroft was 36 and Gardner was 45), but did end up visiting her hotel. He later recounted that "she sat at a little French desk with a telephone, she went through every movie star cliché. She said, 'All right, let's talk about your movie. First of all, I strip for nobody.'" Meanwhile, Jane Fonda turned down not only the role of Mrs. Robinson, but also that of Elaine.
For the character of Elaine, casting was also problematic. Patty Duke turned down the part as she did not want to work at the time. Sally Field as well as Shirley MacLaine refused the role as well. Raquel Welch and Joan Collins both wanted the role, but did not succeed in getting it. Carroll Baker tested, but was said to have been too old to portray Anne Bancroft's daughter. Candice Bergen screen-tested as well, as did Goldie Hawn and Natalie Wood. On the other hand, Ann-Margret, Elizabeth Ashley, Carol Lynley, Sue Lyon, Yvette Mimieux, Suzanne Pleshette, Lee Remick, Pamela Tiffin, and Tuesday Weld were all on the director's shortlist before Katharine Ross was cast.
When Dustin Hoffman auditioned for the role of Benjamin, he was asked to perform a love scene with Ross. Hoffman had never done one during his acting classes and believed that, as he said later, "a girl like [Ross] would never go for a guy like me in a million years". Ross agreed, believing that Hoffman "look[ed] about 3 feet tall ... so unkempt. This is going to be a disaster". Producer Joseph E. Levine later admitted that he at first believed that Hoffman "was one of the messenger boys". Despite—or perhaps because of— Hoffman's awkwardness, Nichols chose him for the film. Before Hoffman was cast, Robert Redford and Warren Beatty were among the top choices. Beatty turned the film down as he was occupied with Bonnie and Clyde. Redford tested for the part of Benjamin (with Candice Bergen as Elaine), but Nichols thought that Redford did not possess the underdog quality that Benjamin needed. When Mike Nichols talked with Redford, Redford asked what he meant. "Well, let's put it this way," said Nichols, "Have you ever struck out with a girl?" "What do you mean?" asked Redford. "That's precisely my point," said Nichols. Charles Grodin turned down the part as the money was not right. Both Brandon deWilde and Michael Parks auditioned for the role. In addition, Keir Dullea, Robert Duvall, Harrison Ford, George Hamilton, Steve McQueen, Jack Nance, George Peppard, Anthony Perkins, Robert Wagner, and Jack Nicholson were all considered for the part of Benjamin. Burt Ward, who starred as Robin on the Batman television show, had to pass on the role as he was committed to filming the show, and the studio would not lend him anyway.
In the roles of Mr. Robinson, Gene Hackman was originally cast, but just before filming began, the director decided he was too young and decided to replace him. Marlon Brando, Howard Duff, Brian Keith, Jack Palance, Frank Sinatra, and Gregory Peck were all other choices for the role that Murray Hamilton eventually played. Susan Hayward was the first choice for Benjamin's mother, Mrs. Braddock, but the role was given to Elizabeth Wilson. And to play Mr. Braddock, Yul Brynner, Kirk Douglas, Robert Mitchum, and Ronald Reagan all came close to getting the role that ended up going to William Daniels.
There are considerable age discrepancies between the lead roles and the actors who portrayed them. Benjamin Braddock says, "I will be 21 next week "; at the time of filming, Dustin Hoffman was 30. Mrs. Robinson states, "Benjamin, I am twice your age." Anne Bancroft was 36, only six years older than Hoffman. Mrs. Robinson's daughter Elaine is 19 and was portrayed by Katharine Ross, who was 27 at the time.
Many of the exterior university campus shots of Benjamin were actually filmed on the brick campus of USC in Los Angeles. Other scenes were filmed on Durant Avenue and Telegraph Avenue in the city of Berkeley, as well as on the Berkeley campus itself.
The Taft Hotel scenes were filmed at the Ambassador Hotel.
The church used for the wedding scene is actually the United Methodist Church in La Verne. In a commentary audio released with the 40th anniversary DVD, Hoffman revealed that he was uneasy about the scene in which he pounds on the church window, as the minister of the church had been watching the filming disapprovingly. The residences used for the Braddocks' house and the Robinsons' house were located on North Palm Drive in Beverly Hills. The scene with Benjamin and Elaine at night in his car at the drive-in restaurant was filmed in Westwood Village, Los Angeles.
The scenes of Benjamin driving to Berkeley on the San Francisco – Oakland Bay Bridge were filmed on the top level of the bridge — leading into San Francisco — the opposite direction of Berkeley. In another scene as he drives south to Santa Barbara, his sports car is shown heading north through the Gaviota Tunnel, also the wrong direction.
The film boosted the profile of folk-rock duo Simon & Garfunkel. Originally, Nichols and O'Steen used their existing songs like "The Sound of Silence" merely as a pacing device for the editing until Nichols decided that substituting original music would not be effective and decided to include them on the soundtrack, an unusual move at that time.
According to a Variety article by Peter Bart in the 15 May 2005 issue, Lawrence Turman, his producer, then made a deal for Simon to write three new songs for the movie. By the time they had nearly finished editing the film, Simon had only written one new song. Nichols begged him for more, but Simon, who was touring constantly, told him he did not have the time. He did play him a few notes of a new song he had been working on; "It's not for the movie... it's a song about times past — about Mrs. Roosevelt and Joe DiMaggio and stuff." Nichols advised Simon, "It's now about Mrs. Robinson, not Mrs. Roosevelt."
On the strength of the hit single "Mrs. Robinson", the soundtrack album rose to the top of the charts in 1968 (knocking off The Beatles' White Album). However, the version that appears in the film is markedly different from the hit single version, which would not be issued until Simon and Garfunkel's next album, Bookends. The actual film version of "Mrs. Robinson" does appear on The Graduate soundtrack LP.
A.D. Murphy of Variety and Roger Ebert of the Chicago Sun-Times praised the film upon its release, with Murphy describing it as a "delightful satirical comedy-drama" and Ebert claiming it was the "funniest American comedy of the year".
For the film's thirtieth anniversary reissue, Ebert retracted some of his previous praise for the film, noting that he now felt its time has passed and he now had more sympathy for Mrs. Robinson than Benjamin, whom he considered "an insufferable creep." He, along with Gene Siskel, gave the film a mediocre review on the television program Siskel & Ebert.
Bancroft, Hoffman, and Ross earned Oscar nominations for their performances. Along with the acting nominations, the film received nominations for Best Cinematography, Best Adapted Screenplay, and Best Picture. Mike Nichols won the Academy Award for Best Director.
In 1996, The Graduate was selected for preservation in the U.S. National Film Registry by the Library of Congress as being "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant", and placed #21 on the list of highest-grossing films in the United States and Canada, adjusted for inflation.
Years later in interviews, Bancroft conceded that, much to her surprise, Mrs. Robinson was the role with which she was most identified, and added "Men still come up to me and tell me 'You were my first sexual fantasy.'"
American Film Institute recognition
- 1998: AFI's 100 Years... 100 Movies - #7
- 2000: AFI's 100 Years... 100 Laughs - #9
- 2002: AFI's 100 Years... 100 Passions - #52
- 2004: AFI's 100 Years... 100 Songs:
- "Mrs. Robinson" - #6
- 2005: AFI's 100 Years... 100 Movie Quotes:
- "Plastics." - #42
- "Mrs. Robinson, you're trying to seduce me. Aren't you?" - #63
- 2007: AFI's 100 Years... 100 Movies (10th Anniversary Edition) - #17
Alfa Romeo produced a "Graduate" edition Alfa Romeo Spider, the car Benjamin drives in the film.
|This section does not cite any references or sources. (May 2012)|
Terry Johnson's adaptation of the original novel and the film was a hit both in London's West End and on Broadway, and has toured the United States. There is a Brazilian version adapted by Miguel Falabella. Several actresses have starred as Mrs. Robinson, including Kathleen Turner, Lorraine Bracco, Jerry Hall, Amanda Donohoe, Morgan Fairchild, Anne Archer, Vera Fischer, Patricia Richardson and Linda Gray. The Broadway production in 2002 starred Kathleen Turner, Jason Biggs, and Alicia Silverstone.
The stage production adds several scenes that are not in the novel or the film. It also uses songs by Simon & Garfunkel not used in the film, such as "Baby Driver" as well as music from other popular musicians from the era such as The Byrds and The Beach Boys.
Possibility of sequel
Charles Webb has written a sequel to his original novel titled Home School, but initially refused to publish it in its entirety because of a contract he signed in the 1960s. When he sold film rights to The Graduate, he surrendered the rights to any sequels. If he were to publish Home School, Canal+, the French media company that owns the rights to The Graduate, would be able to adapt it for the screen without his permission. Extracts of Home School were printed in The Times on May 2, 2006. Webb also told the newspaper that there was a possibility he would find a publisher for the full text, provided he could retrieve the film rights using French copyright law. On 30 May 2006, The Times reported that Webb had signed a publishing deal for Home School with Random House which he hoped would enable him to instruct French lawyers to attempt to retrieve his rights. The novel was published in Britain in 2007, but was poorly received.
- J. W. Whitehead. Appraising The Graduate: The Mike Nichols Classic and Its Impact in Hollywood. McFarland, 2011. ISBN 978-0-7864-6306-0.
- "THE GRADUATE (AA)". United Artists. British Board of Film Classification. July 1, 1970. Retrieved September 20, 2013.
- "The Graduate, Box Office Information". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved March 8, 2012.
- Variety film review; December 20, 1967, page 6.
- "Domestic Grosses, Adjusted for Ticket Price Inflation". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved March 8, 2012.
- Zeitlin, David (1967-11-24). "The Graduate". Life. p. 111. Retrieved February 21, 2013.
- Harris, Mark (2008). Pictures at a Revolution. The Penguin Press. pp. 360–1.
- Bart, Peter (May 15, 2005). "The perfect pic alignment". Variety.
- A.D. Murphy (December 18, 1967). "Film Reviews—The Graduate". Variety (Variety.com). Retrieved 2011-04-13.
- Roger Ebert (December 26, 1967). "The Graduate". Chicago Sun-Times (RogerEbert.SunTimes.com). Retrieved 2011-04-13.
- Roger Ebert (March 28, 1997). "The Graduate". Chicago Sun-Times (RogerEbert.SunTimes.com). Retrieved 2011-04-13.
- Siskel & Ebert at the Movies, March 22, 1997 (Season 11, Episode 28).
- Steven Jay Schneider, ed. (September 2003). 1001 Movies You Muse See Before You Die. London: Quintessence Editions Ltd. ISBN 978-0-7641-6151-3.
- David Smith (25 March 2005). "What happened next? (the author will let you know after he dies)". The Observer (guardian.co.uk). Retrieved 2007-10-12.
- Charles Webb (2 May 2006). "Mrs Robinson Returns". The Times (timesonline.co.uk). Retrieved 2007-10-12.
- "The Graduate's not-so-happy sequel". The Times (timesonline.co.uk). 18 April 2006. Retrieved 2011-04-13.
- Jack Malvern (30 May 2006). "At last, Mrs Robinson is getting her groove back". The Times (timesonline.co.uk). Retrieved 2011-04-13.
- David L. Ulin (10 January 2008). "Post 'Graduate' work is a failure". Los Angeles Times (latimes.com). Retrieved 2011-04-13.
- "Home School". KirkusReviews.com. 1 November 2007. Retrieved 2011-04-13.
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