“Mrs. Robinson, you’re trying to seduce me. Aren’t you?”
If there is a movie that can hit viewers of all age from this groovy decade of the 1960’s, I would have to choose The Graduate. At it’s base, the movie is a coming-of-age story and usually those kind of stories relate with people of all ages. The younger generation may be living through the same eyes as the characters in the story and the older generation gets nostalgia as they remember the days of old. In fact, this movie is a favorite of my family. They grew up in the era when this film is released, so they understand the struggles the character is going through. Also the movie is recognizable because it is a damn fine piece of art. It took me years to see the film, and I finally did so recently. It did not hit me as strongly as it did with my family or other people of their generation, but there is no denying how good the film is.
I feel like I can relate to the film somewhat because I’m in the same boat of our main character, Ben Braddock. Ben is a recent college graduate, but is struggling to find a life after college. I know how he feels, because I have the same struggles in a much more competitive world. I can also relate to Ben’s personality, because I had similar traits years ago. Ben, in the film, struggles mightily around females because of his awkwardness. Back in my teenage days, I had similar issues. Although I eventually changed and I never fell for any older women like…..ahem….Ben does. But people adore this movie because of its very relatable themes involving post-graduation life.
One of the popular things about the movie was its soundtrack. The film heavily relied upon folk rock duo Simon & Garfunkel to provide the music, and provide the music they certainly did. One would say their most famous song is “Mrs. Robinson.” Now you know where the song received its personality. Personally, I loved the music in the film but other people, such as the late great Roger Ebert had major qualms about the music. But everyone is subjected to their own opinions because everyone usually have different opinions about any single movie.
This film follows around this kid, Ben Braddock (Dustin Hoffman) as he joins the big, wide world after college graduation. Everyone expects great things out of him, especially his parents (played by William Daniels and Elizabeth Wilson). At a homecoming party of his, Ben is asked to drive Mrs. Robinson (Anne Bancroft) home. Mrs. Robinson is the wife of his father’s business partner (Murray Hamilton). After Ben drove the seductive older woman home, they begin an affair. But things take a sharp turn when Ben meets Mrs. Robinson’s daughter, Elaine (Katherine Ross)…….and falls in love with her. Now with two women in his romantic life with the affair unbeknownst to each other, Ben is going to have a lot of work to do.
The film partly works because of its fine, naturalistic performances. Dustin Hoffman, despite being 29 at the film’s release, convincingly plays Braddock as a shy, awkward kid who wants to take this time in joining the real world. Hoffman will become a big star, and this is the first piece in helping him do so. My word, I really enjoyed Anne Bancroft’s performance as the seductive wife. She could have stolen any guy’s heart with her portrayal. It’s funny because she was supposed to be the older woman in the picture, but she’s only six years older than Hoffman is. Those of you who seen the 90’s sitcom, Boy Meets World, you’ll recognize Mr. Feeney himself, William Daniels who played Ben’s dad. He has some amusing scenes, and I particularly liked the scene where he forces his son to try on a scuba diving outfit much to Ben’s chagrin. Murray Hamilton has a rather smallish role as Mr. Robinson, but I thought he did a fine job and likewise for Katherine Ross as Elaine, whom we don’t meet until much later in the film.
Mike Nichols was a well-known director who is known for his quirkiness and sensibilities in all of his films. He sadly passed away earlier this year, but he left behind a legacy of well-known works. The Graduate is his first feature film and boy what a way to introduce yourself to Hollywood. He does an amazing job directing this film and it’s no surprise he won Best Director at the Oscars for his first film directorial effort. He told the story in a very crisp away and he never slowed down.
The film works as a comedy and a drama, but its not funny in a way you would think. The comedy is more subtle, and that makes it refreshing. However, not everything meant as comedy I found funny. You can blame me living in a different generation for that. The movie also offers some unforgettable scenes. The very last scene with Elaine and Ben in a bus…..just a classic scene and quite funny. Just watch the movie, and you’ll see what I mean.
Despite how much I enjoyed The Graduate, not all is perfect. The film feels outdated. What worked in the 1960’s doesn’t always work well today. Some jokes are not as funny and on the technical side of the film, it doesn’t hold up well. As one would say, the movie has rusty pipes. But those pipes still work perfectly fine. Thanks to the music, the performances, and the themes, The Graduate is a lesson that all young people should learn and it’s a movie that still appeals to the older generations. I enjoyed this film, even if other people enjoyed it more than I did.
My Grade: B+