The Graduate is a 1967 American romantic comedy drama film directed by Mike Nichols, based on the 1963 novel of the same name by Charles Webb, who wrote it shortly after graduating from Williams College. The film tells the story of 21 year old Benjamin Braddock (Dustin Hoffman), a recent college graduate with no established focus in life, who is seduced by Mrs. Robinson (Anne Bancroft), an older woman, then falls in love with her daughter Elaine (Katherine Ross).
There have been many films about younger characters having flings with much older ones like, Alfie, Harold and Maude and Pretty Woman and all are special in their own ways, but none are as special as The Graduate. The story of a college grad with no direction in life, who had probably never had a girlfriend, seduced by a much older housewife, may not seem too original to some, but the way the story is written and the film version is directed, make it unique. With the soundtrack of Simon and Garfunkel and a secret affair becoming not a secret, it is truly a scandalous story.
Dustin Hoffman is outstanding as Benjamin Braddock, his breakout role. Playing such a naive, lustful young man, fresh out of college, he is absolutely perfectly imperfect. Anne Bancroft is equally fantastic as Mrs. Robinson. She plays the bored, lonely, sexually deprived and heavy drinking housewife, whose husband is a workaholic.
Katherine Ross is great as Elaine, Mrs. Robinson’s daughter, who finds out about the affair and refuses to have any contact with Benjamin until she forgives him and eventually falls in love with him. She is beautiful, smart, hard-headed, but kind at times too. Elaine isn’t full of sexual desire like her mother, making her a more likable character.
You start out hating Benjamin, but towards the end of the film, you end up liking him. But Mrs. Robinson, you can’t stand her the entire time, even after Benjamin forgives her and she forgives him.
The inappropriate fling, turns into one of the most iconic love stories of all time, with one of the most iconic soundtracks of all time. It has been parodied many times, but that doesn’t make this an awful film, in fact, it is wonderful, despite being scandalous.
It was given a PG rating then and shockingly still has the same today. It is very unsuitable for that rating. With the the inappropriate affair, talk of sex and rape, the drinking, seducing, smoking, obvious nudity (no body parts shown) and revealing clothing, it deserves a PG-13 or NC-17. No way would I let my seven or eight year old watch this.
Despite the controversy, it is still a remarkable film, one that shocks you, makes you angry, sad and then warms your heart. Still one of the greatest love stories of all time. It’s hard to believe the theme song wasn’t originally written for the movie, since it is one best themes of all time. 13-17 5/5