The Graduate (1967)

2009-04-04 18:23
The Graduate

cou•gar (koo-ger) noun – definition: A sophisticated species of female, usually over the age of 40, who seeks the pleasure of younger males. She avoids the entanglements of a "relationship," in favour of the freedom of the hunt.

With her husky growl, animal prints, tan lines and perfectly coiffured mane of hair, Mrs Robinson (Anne Bancroft) was the original cougar – shy, confused Benjamin Braddock never stood a chance once the wife of his father's business partner laid eyes on him during his graduation party.

And so the deceptively simple story of The Graduate is put into motion. Ben (played by Dustin Hoffman, in his first major movie role) has returned home for the summer after graduating college, and seems to have no immediate plans for the future, beyond spending his days lounging in his parent's pool.

Enter cougar extraordinaire, Mrs. Robinson, a woman who has known Ben almost all his life and sees the manchild in a new light. But what is it about Ben that attracts Mrs Robinson's attentions? He isn’t particularly handsome, confident or statuesque - or is it perhaps those very shortcomings which endear him to her?

What's becomes clear over the course of their steamy affair is that Mrs Robison is no lecherous corruptor of young minds. If anything, she approaches their affair with an admirable degree of class, allowing the inexperienced Ben to break out of his shell. Only his newfound maturity comes in very handy when Ben falls in love with the Robinsons' beautiful daughter Elaine (Katharine Ross). Suddenly the safe bubble of the affair is burst and Mrs Robinson is pitted against someone who has her whole future ahead of her and has the potential to achieve everything her mother, stuck in a loveless marriage, never could.

Behind all the sexual mess in The Graduate is a rather sobering story of exploration of the threat youth poses to an older generation that's wasted its chance and found nothing but emptiness at the end of the rainbow. There is a latent resentment in the way Ben is offered pointless career advice ("I want to say one word to you. Just one word. Plastics"), is made to parade for family friends in a silly scuba diving costume his parents have just bought him as a 21st birthday gift, and in Mrs Robinson's bitterest punishment of her daughter – forcing Elaine into a marriage of convenience.

But thankfully, The Graduate is also a very entertaining, painfully funny movie. Ben's anxiety at arranging his first sexual encounter with Mrs Robinson at a hotel is a wild thrill. Anyone new to the movie will recognise the traits of the bumbling romantic loser when recalling such performances as Hugh Grant in Four Weddings and Funeral, Adam Sandler in Punch Drunk Love and the entire plot of American Pie.

Any discussion of The Graduate is incomplete without mentioning the movie's iconic folk soundtrack by Simon & Garfunkel. Poignant songs like "Sounds of Silence", Mrs Robinson" and "Scarborough Fair" add a dreamlike quality that effectively convey Ben's disembodied relationship with his parents and the clinical, listless manner in which he approaches his affair.

The climax of the movie sees Ben rushing into a church to rescue Elaine from the same fate that befell Mrs Robinson and every other adult who have ever tried to control their lives. It's a crazy, slightly corny scene that redeems itself right at the end, as Elaine and Ben sit on the back seat of a bus, the thrill of the chase quickly wearing off as the prospect of forever begins to dawn on them. It's a sobering moment that's as ominous as it is thrilling - life doesn’t come with a how-to manual, and it's a lesson we all have to learn at some point.

A bit of trivia [from]:

- In the famous promotional still for this film, Dustin Hoffman is seen in the background framed by Mrs. Robinson's shapely leg. The leg in that photo didn't belong to Anne Bancroft, however; it belonged to a then-unknown model, Linda Gray, who went on to play Sue Ellen in Dallas.

- The movie's line "Mrs. Robinson, you're trying to seduce me. Aren't you?" was voted as the #63 movie quote by the American Film Institute.

- Although Mrs. Robinson is supposed to be much older than Benjamin, Anne Bancroft and Dustin Hoffman are just under six years apart in age.

-Ronald Reagan was considered for the role of Mr. Braddock.

Memorable Quotes:

Room Clerk: Are you here for an affair, sir?
Benjamin: What?
Room Clerk: The Singleman party, sir?
Benjamin: Ah, yes, the Singleman party.

Benjamin: Where did you do it?
Mrs. Robinson: In his car.
Benjamin: What kind of car was it?
Mrs. Robinson: Come on now.
Benjamin: No, I really want to know.
Mrs. Robinson: A Ford.
Benjamin: Goddamn, that's great. So old Elaine Robinson got started in a Ford.

Mr. McGuire: I want to say one word to you. Just one word.
Benjamin: Yes, sir.
Mr. McGuire: Are you listening?
Benjamin: Yes, I am.
Mr. McGuire: Plastics.
Benjamin: Just how do you mean that, sir?

Benjamin: Oh my god.
Mrs. Robinson: Pardon?
Benjamin: Oh no, Mrs. Robinson. Oh no.
Mrs. Robinson: What's wrong?
Benjamin: Mrs. Robinson, you didn't... I mean, you didn't expect...
Mrs. Robinson: What?
Benjamin: I mean, you didn't really think I'd do something like *that*.
Mrs. Robinson: Like what?
Benjamin: What do you think?
Mrs. Robinson: Well, I don't know.
Benjamin: For god's sake, Mrs. Robinson. Here we are. You got me into your house. You give me a drink. You... put on music. Now you start opening up your personal life to me and tell me your husband won't be home for hours.
Mrs. Robinson: So?
Benjamin: Mrs. Robinson, you're trying to seduce me.
Mrs. Robinson: [laughs]
Benjamin: Aren't you?

Benjamin: Mrs. Robinson, if you don't mind my saying so, this conversation is getting a little strange.

Benjamin: Mrs. Robinson, I can't do this.
Mrs. Robinson: You what?
Benjamin: This is all terribly wrong.
Mrs. Robinson: Do you find me undesirable?
Benjamin: Oh no, Mrs. Robinson. I think, I think you're the most attractive of all my parents' friends. I mean that.

A young man’s sexual awakening comes about after a steamy affair with a hot, bored housewife.

preshen govender 2009/04/08 9:55 AM
  • Rating:
This movie is like my virginity I don’t remember much of it and definitely don’t miss it.
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