THE GRADUATE: 1967 (Prime video) Gary and I have been listening to Mike Nichols’ biography (“Mike Nichols: A Life,” by Mark Harris). When Harris discussed the making of The Graduate, we decided to revisit the movie. It was as good as we remembered! Based on the novel by Charles Webb, the story of Benjamin Braddock, a recent college graduate, was brought to the screen by Mike Nichols. He had help though, from a team of experienced people who provided a sounding board for Nichols. One of the members of the team was Buck Henry, who co-wrote the screenplay, and also appeared in the movie as the desk clerk in the hotel to which a nervous Benjamin (Dustin Hoffman) brought Mrs. Robinson (Anne Bancroft) for their affair. The movie earned Nichols an Oscar for Best Director, but the film, which was nominated for Best Picture, lost to In the Heat of the Night. In his acceptance speech, Nichols said that it was a team effort and he accepted the award on behalf of the team. In the more than 50 years since it first became a box-office phenomenon, The Graduate's has earned the reputation as one of the great American comedies. The main theme of the movie is Benjamin’s uncertainty about his direction in life, contrasted by the expectations imposed on him by the adults surrounding him. I think today’s graduates can identify with that. Another theme is the story of a young man's initiation into the mysteries of sex at the hands of an older married woman. Who can forget that wonderful scene where Benjamin asks Mrs. Robinson, “You’re trying to seduce me…aren’t you?” I wonder how many boys fantasized about a Mrs. Robinson of their own. When Benjamin crashes Elaine's (Katherine Ross) wedding, fights off the angry guests with a cross, and runs away with the bride, Nichols told Hoffman and Ross to sit at the back of the bus and smile. Then he kept the cameras running as their smiles wore off and a what-have-we-done expression crossed both their faces. The music, by Simon and Garfunkel, was inspired and perfect. GRADE A
"Mrs. Robinson" became the duo's second chart-topper, hitting No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100.