Classic of the Week: The Graduate (1967)

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

Classic of the Week: Breakfast at Tiffany’s (1961)

 

Breakfast at Tiffany’s is a 1961 American romantic comedy film directed by Blake Edwards, loosel based on the 1958 Truman Capote novella of the same name. The film stars Audrey Hepburn, George Peppard, Patricia Neal and Mickey Rooney.

The film follows Holly Golightly, a socialite and lady of the night with a love for expensive things, men and lavish parties and Paul Varjak, a writer that moves into Holly’s apartment building, who has a rich interior decorator, Mrs. Emily Eustace, who he occasionally sleeps with for extra money. Holly and Paul eventually fall in love.

Although author Truman Capote stated numerous times that Holly wasn’t exactly a call girl and Hollywood tried hard not to make her a flat out lady of the PM, that is essentially what she is. She visits a man named Sally Tomato, a mobster in jail, to give him the “weather report.” Also in the beginning of the film, after the famous scene of her eating her danish in front of the Tiffany jewelry store, she is seen fighting off the man from the night before. She also throws a party with a man she calls, “the ninth richest man in America under 50,” who she later says she’s going to marry because of his money.

Paul is a bit oblivious to Holly’s lifestyle at first, but does eventually learns about it and tries to help her, but she refuses it at first, but eventually realizes she needs help after all. Paul over time, becomes smitten with Holly and tries to woo her, but she rejects him. He confesses his love for her and she eventually does the same towards him, by kissing him in the rain.

This is a romantic comedy that is different from others, because it isn’t cheesy, boring, or predictable, it is harsh at times, sad at times, sweet and heartwarming at other moments too. Holly Golightly is Audrey Hepburn’s most famous character and it is such an iconic character that has been reproduced on stage, television, magazines, costumes and more. But no one comes close to being as spectacular as Audrey as Holly. Many people don’t realize that Holly is essentially a lady of pleasure, which is totally inappropriate when dressing a little girl up as her, which is sadly done far too often. Still Golightly is one of the greatest film characters of all time.

George Peppard is fantastic as Paul Varjak which is a huge nose thumb to the director who begged the producers not to cast him. Both Steve McQueen and Tony Curtis, although equally attractive most likely couldn’t have portrayed the rom-com role even as greatly as Peppard, even though they were great actors, they were not in romantic roles as much. George had the handsome, bright eyed, sharp as a tack dresser, look down flat in this film. He had the New York accent, that wasn’t over the top. She was cute, mischievous, sexy, yet elegant and beautiful. She mad the little black dress and kitten heels famous.

Patricia Neal is great as Mrs. Emily Eustace, Paul’s decorator who he sometimes sleeps with. She eventually finishes her work for him and he tells her they can’t see each other anymore because he is falling in love. Mickey Rooney does a good job as I. Y. Yunioshi, Holly’s landlord, although his role has always been controversial because he was a white American portaying a Japanese man, that was also dubbed offensive because of the stereotypical way the character is portrayed. Yes, the character should have been recast as an actual Japanese or at last Asian, or changed, even though that would have been different from the book, at least no controversy.

Controversy aside, this is still a wonder film, that anyone should watch at least once in their lives. It has rough scenes and adult themes, but it is done beautifully, making it a film that one will want to watch over and over. You will root for the two to fall in love and they do. An over masterpiece of cinematic history. 13+ 5/5