The Graduate (1967)

Author: Dr. Mandar V. Bichu

The Graduate
Year: 1967
Director: Mike Nichols
Cast: Dustin Hoffman, Anne Bancroft, Katharine Ross

“Do you want me to seduce you?”
What would a confused twenty-one year old young man, a fresh college graduate still unsure of his future plans, do when a stylish, world-wise and sexy middle aged lady casually throws a potent question like this?  And what if the lady happens to be his father’s business partner’s wife?
The immortal sequence featuring Dustin Hoffman’s nerdy, nervous Benjamin Braddock and Anne Bancroft’s self-possessed, sensuous Mrs. Robinson is just one of the many zany, funny moments from 1967 –film The Graduate. Well, I will tell you what that perplexed young man does. The first time around he somehow saves himself from the clutches of the older lady by literally running out of the bedroom. But soon the sheer boredom of his life makes him hop onto that ‘offer’ and into bed. As the surreptitious affair starts going sour, thanks to radically different perspectives of the unlikely lovers, in comes Elaine, the manipulative lady’s beautiful, sensitive young daughter. What next? The young minds meet; the boy decides to come clean and confesses everything in front of the girl! Will he ever get his girl with such weirdly wired connections? And that, too when that girl is engaged to someone else?
The Graduate walks a thin line- it is a crazy mix of comedy and romance and offers a wry commentary on the warped lives of American upper middle class society. In a way, it is also a portrayal of a domineering adult society trying to control vulnerable young lives and the resultant rebellion. What makes it a classic is the subtle, unhurried unfurling of its shocking story.  Instead of turning it into an emotional roller-coaster, director Mike Nichols decides to poke fun at the absurdities of life and he succeeds at it big time. He even won an Oscar for the film!
Dustin Hoffman’s convincingly geeky Benjamin, Bancroft’s deliciously saucy Mrs. Robinson and Sarah’s spirited Elaine Robinson are three memorable characters (and three Oscar-nominated roles) running this show and a host of equally memorable side-characters (like Mr. Robinson, Benjamin’s parents, his landlord, the hotel-staff)  make it even more enjoyable.
It was Jennifer Aniston’s 2005- rom com Rumour Has It (a sort of homage to The Graduate) that had first made me aware of this particular film’s existence and while watching it I realized its timeless appeal. More than 40 years since its release, The Graduate still kept me glued to the screen, while making me chuckle all the time!

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