Movie Project #5: The Graduate [1967]

The 50 Movies Project is a personal “marathon” of mine. In June, I compiled a list of 50 movies that I felt I needed to see by the end of the year. Old, new, foreign, English — it doesn’t matter. These are all movies that I have heard a lot about and have been wanting to see for some time. This project gives me a way to stay focused on the goal.

The Graduate [1967]

The Graduate [1967]
Director: Mike Nichols
Genre: Comedy/Drama/Romance
Language: English
Country: USA

The Graduate is a film that I was introduced to in my college’s Music In Film class. We discussed the movie thanks to its soundtrack’s meteoric rise to the top of the Billboard charts. Simon & Garfunkel were responsible for the music, and the film’s popularity helped propel them even further into the folk music canon. There’s no question the movie was a smashing success.

Looking back at it 44 years later is rather interesting. It is almost as if opening a time capsule, as this is a fascinating portrait of the restlessness of 60s youth.

The Graduate [1967]

Dustin Hoffman is incredible as Benjamin Braddock, the 21-year-old college graduate who comes back home with seemingly no direction in his life. His summer takes a drastic turn after he is seduced by Mrs. Robinson (Anne Bancroft), the 40-something wife of his father’s business partner. The initial awkward encounters between the two are priceless, but their casual relationship succeeds, at first anyway. This changes when Ben later begins dating her daughter, Elaine (Katharine Ross), and soon everything spirals out of control.

The relations between Benjamin and the mother were the highlights of the film for me, especially as we got to know more about the complex character of Mrs. Robinson. The movie takes an entirely different direction once he begins falling for Elaine, however, and I felt like this dragged on a bit, at least until the brilliant end scene.

I liked director Mike Nichols’ use of “gimmicky” camera angles, such as the first-person perspective from inside Ben’s scuba gear. These dynamic perspectives helped keep things fresh throughout, and added to the movie’s charm.

The Graduate [1967]

Simon & Garfunkel’s soundtrack is excellent, especially as a signature of the times. “The Sound of Silence” and “Mrs. Robinson” are absolute classics, even if Nichols tended to overplay them throughout the movie (especially “Scarborough Fair”, which was played over and over again near the end).

I was pleasantly surprised with how much I enjoyed The Graduate overall. Even today, as a fairly recent college graduate myself, I can relate to Benjamin’s uneasiness. Leaving the sanctuary of school is scary at first, especially when you still don’t know what you want to do with your life. Hell, I’m still figuring this out three years later.

In a nutshell, The Graduate is still relevant today, and it is a very well-made and enjoyable movie even with the minor annoyances.


15 thoughts on “Movie Project #5: The Graduate [1967]

  1. J. says:

    I have just finished watching The Graduate, inspired to do so by your Movie Project. I have to say I thoroughly enjoyed it too and I think it’s because I find myself in at a similar crossroads that Benjamin finds himself at at the beginning of the film.

    Unlike yourself I didn’t find any annoyances and felt that the music complemented the film very well.

    Credit is definitely due to Hoffman, I found the awkwardness of his character which seemed to be drawn from a depression – likely due to the fact that he has the rest of his life ahead of him and no idea what to do with it – very amusing; I agree the awkward scenes between Mrs Robinson and Benjamin were the best.

    My one criticism would be how it ended. I did enjoy it and I have to agree that the last scene was fantastic, but it didn’t seem to fit in with the character that we had been shown throughout the film. He was portrayed to be spontaneous and although you can call chasing down a bride spontaneous, I can’t help but feel if the film continued the relationship would not last much longer.

    Anyway, well rounded film. Glad I watched it. I intend on following you on your quest through these films as I feel I haven’t exactly stretched myself when it comes to cinema Looking forward to the next one!


    • Eric says:

      Hey, thanks for the great comment!

      I think even today this movie appeals most to young 20-somethings who have their whole lives ahead of them, yet are unsure of what to do with them. In this regard, the movie is right up my alley, and it sounds like it is for you as well.

      I loved the soundtrack, but it got a little grating to hear the opening lines from “Scarborough Fair” over and over near the end. I think they played it something like four times in a 10 minute span. A little excessive, I thought.

      I see what you’re saying about the ending, but I thought it was very fitting that Benjamin was acting spontaneous throughout the movie, even going so far as to break up a wedding, and then come to the stark realization that he might have just messed things up. The look on both of their faces at the very end is telling. I think it was at this particular point that they just realized their lives were just as uncertain as they were beforehand. Now their future holds a potentially short-lived relationship (as you stated), or a dull, problematic marriage similar to their parents, neither of which are satisfying options. Not a feel-good ending by any means.

      Thanks for the kind words about the project. I am looking forward to hearing your thoughts on the other selections as well — it’s great to get another viewpoint on these classics.

  2. Dan says:

    I can’t tell you how much I love this film. I don’t think it has dated at all. The concept, the emotions, the music, the performances of Dustin Hoffman and Anne Bankcroft still resonate just as well today as they did in the 1960s.

    I think all university leavers can still relate to Benjamin’s predicament and I think that is one of the reasons it will continue to be heralded as an all time great. The other reason is of course Sex Ed with Mrs Robinson.

  3. corpsecruncher says:

    One of the first films I watched and have loved watching through out the years. Relevant today as it was controversial then. Would love to know who did the artwork for the poster.

  4. classicfilmguru says:

    I just recently watched this movie, and loved it! I know it’s not my generation at all, but I did find it relevant today and really enjoyed the characters and how they were developed. I also really enjoyed your views on the film! I usually focus on music when it comes to film, but I don’t know why this seemed to pass me by with this film.

    Thank you for the post, I will be sure to come back for more. 🙂

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