260. The Graduate

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Movie: The Graduate

Release Date: December 22, 1967

Director: Mike Nichols

Starring: Dustin Hoffman, Anne Bancroft, Katherine Ross.

Tag Lines: “What’ll you do after you graduate?”

“This is Benjamin. He’s a little worried about his future.”

Relevance: “I am not trying to seduce you. Would you like me to seduce you? Is that what you’re trying to tell me?” The first time I heard these quotes was in the summer of 1992 while watching MTV. George Michael had just released a new song and video, “Too Funky,” and being a huge fan I of course watched the world premiere. It wasn’t until months later, long after the song became a top ten hit in the United States did I even know where those quotes originated.

Over my winter break in 1992 I was at home and listening to George Michael, which was a very common occurrence back then. (It still is actually.) “Too Funky” was playing and my dad had mentioned that those quotes were from the movie ‘The Graduate.’ I was vaguely familiar with the movie, mostly that it starred Dustin Hoffman and that it had music from Simon and Garfunkel. But that was the extent of my knowledge. Since I always liked to expand my cinematic mind, it became the next movie that I rented from Blockbuster.

I watched the movie with my mom and dad and was instantly intrigued. I enjoyed the music, direction and acting but the thing that struck a chord the most for me was the character of Benjamin Braddock, brilliantly portrayed by Mr. Hoffman. At that time I only had one more semester of college to go and like that character had no clue what I wanted to do with my life. This might have been a more common feeling among people I knew, but it wasn’t discussed or talked about. Most of my peers were all talk about setting up jobs, continuing their education and planning their futures. Not me. I was lost.

I became obsessed with the movie as well as Simon and Garfunkel, buying much of their music around that time. Even after deciding on a graduate school and planning a little bit of my future, I still had thoughts of Benjamin Braddock moping in my head. To say I related to the character was an understatement. Only once before could I recall being that influenced by a fictional character. That other character was Holden Caulfield from “The Catcher in the Rye,” my favorite novel of all time. But that is a story for another time.

‘The Graduate’ remained one of my favorite films and I had visited it often. Mike Nichols was a brilliant director with numerous wonderful films. There will be two more of them popping up on this list much later this year. But ‘The Graduate,’ thanks to that quirky character of Mr. Braddock, will always remain close to my heart.

Today’s Thoughts: I loved watching ‘The Graduate’ today for two reasons. First, I got to hear Simon and Garfunkel again and now will play them non stop for weeks to come. Second, I simply adore it.

There are so many elements that work together to make this a classic film, all under the fantastic direction of Mr. Nichols. But the ensemble cast is brilliant and the main reason why it comes to its full fruition. Anne Bancroft and Dustin Hoffman have never been better. It is hard to believe that this was only Mr. Hoffman’s second film. He is the perfect Benjamin Braddock. And Anne Bancroft is pure unadulterated sexuality. And so good. Their chemistry together is palpable.

‘The Graduate’ is a classic, no doubt about that. It was nice to watch it again after not seeing it for about twenty years. It is still totally relatable. I can’t help but think there are a lot more Benjamin Braddock’s out there, which makes me feel better about my feelings back in 1992.

Now excuse me while I go listen to “Too Funky” and then the entire Simon and Garfunkel discography.

“Hello darkness my old friend…”

Awards: Academy Award for Best Director, Mike Nichols (winner), Academy Award for Best Picture (nomination), Academy Award for Best Actor in a Leading Role, Dustin Hoffman (nomination), Academy Award for Best Actress in a Leading Role, Anne Bancroft (nomination), Academy Award for Best Actress in a Supporting Role, Katherine Ross (nomination), Academy Award for Best Writing, Screenplay Based on Material from Another Medium, Calder Willingham, Buck Henry (nomination), Academy Award for Best Cinematography, Robert Surtees (nomination), Golden Globe for Best Motion Picture – Comedy or Musical (winner), Golden Globe for Best Director, Mike Nichols (winner), Golden Globe for Best Actress – Comedy or Musical, Anne Bancroft (winner), Golden Globe for Best Promising Newcomer – Female, Katherine Ross (winner), Golden Globe for Best Promising Newcomer – Male, Dustin Hoffman (winner), Golden Globe for Best Actor – Comedy or Musical (nomination), Golden Globe for Best Screenplay, Calder Willingham, Buck Henry (nomination), BAFTA Award for Best Film (winner), BAFTA Award for Best Director, Mike Nichols (winner), BAFTA Award for Most Promising Newcomer to Leading Film Roles, Dustin Hoffman (winner), BAFTA Award for Best Film Editing, Sam O’Steen (winner), BAFTA Award for Best Screenplay, Calder Willingham, Buck Henry (winner), BAFTA Award for Best Actress, Anne Bancroft (nomination), BAFTA Award for Most Promising Newcomer to Leading Film Roles, Katherine Ross (nomination), Directors Guild of America Award for Outstanding Directorial Achievement in Motion Pictures, Mike Nichols (winner), National Board of Review Award for Top Ten Films (winner), National Film Registry (1996), New York Film Critics Circle Award for Best Director, Mike Nichols (winner), New York Film Critics Circle Award for Best Film (nomination), New York Film Critics Circle Award for Best Screenplay, Calder Willingham, Buck Henry (nomination), Writers Guild of America Award for Best Written American Comedy, Calder Willingham, Buck Henry (winner).

Ways to Watch: YouTube, Vudu, Google Play, iTunes, Amazon Prime, DVD Availability.

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