A review of the classic 1967 film “The Graduate”

In its day – I was an undergraduate when the film was released and I first viewed it – this was seen as something of a daring work depicting sex in the suburbs between different generations. It is a sharp piece of social commentary – a critical look at the American middle class – disguised as a kind of rom-com.

I say ‘a kind of’ because the central relationship is transactional rather than romantic (the romance comes rather later in the narrative) and the comedy is often somewhat surreal (the eponymous young man decked out in underwater gear or banishing a crucifix as a weapon). Based on a novel by Charles Webb, there is some memorable dialogue including my favourite lines: “I just want to say one word to you. Just one word … Are you listening? … Plastics”.

In his break-out role, young Dustin Hoffman plays 21 year old Benjamin Braddock and this proved to be just the start of an illustrious movie career. His temptress is Anne Bancroft who makes the most of some wonderful lines as Mrs Robinson. The young daughter of Mrs Robinson is portrayed by newcomer Katherine Ross whose later career was mostly in television.

The movie was only the second directorial outing for Mike Nicholls but he impresses with a variety of of cinematic tricks, perhaps the most memorable being a shot of Ben framed by the raised naked leg of Mrs Robinson. Another distinguishing feature of this enjoyable film is the use of songs by Simon & Garfunkel including the catchy “Mrs Robinson”. So all the elements of a classic.


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