The Graduate adapted from the novel by Charles Webb
A different version of this note and thoughts on other books are available at:
- https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLEVa4_CsRStSBBDo4uJWT8BSWtTTn0N1E and http://realini.blogspot.ro/
The hero is a young man called Benjamin Braddock who falls for Mrs. Robinson’s seduction techniques…in the first place
Dustin Hoffman plays the character with skill, in what may be his best performance or equal to the one in Rain Man.
Alas, I have read about the actor and learned that his behavior on the set could be obnoxious, to say the least.
In the stupendous book Adventures in the Screen Trade by the marvelous writer William Goldman there are extraordinary facts, details concerning the writing, making of films and events on and off the set.
William Goldman was the author of acclaimed and awarded scripts like Butch Cassidy and The Sundance Kid, A Bridge Too Far, All The President’s Men, The Marathon Man, The Great Waldo Pepper and others.
He writes about the making of Marathon Man and how Dustin Hoffman misbehaved while working on it.
In one scene, the character played by Hoffman is woken at night by his brother, played by Roy Scheider.
But he does not know who comes in at this late hour of the night and he is supposed to reach for a lantern.
That would be by the bedside; only the pretentious actor would not do that, because his fans would not like it…!
This was so ridiculous, superficial, vain and preposterous, especially considering that his partner was waiting for him and so was the director and all the many others involved, just because the image would not be macho or macho enough!!
In another segment, the same man has to be in the company of the legendary Laurence Olivier who was very sick at the time.
That does not concern the individual who has the title role and hence is more important and wants to Emphasize it.
Sir Laurence Olivier is suffering while the little man is dragging him along the set to satisfy his vanity and need for reassurance?
- Why, this does not matter!
So, whenever I see Hoffman, be it in Meet the Fockers or The Graduate I remember his outrageous conduct.
I must admit that in the film that I have seen again these days, he acts very well and so does the rest of the cast, especially Anne Bancroft and Katharine Ross.
There are some scenes that are now part of The History of Great Cinema, from the face off with Mrs. Robinson to the iconic moment in the church, where a wedding takes place and then a crowd is chasing someone- without a spoiler alert I’ll say nothing about it- who defends himself with a…cross that he uses to stop them.
Benjamin Braddock is a young “Graduate” who has yet to learn about sex and much else in life, for which he seems to have a blasé attitude.
He meets at the party given by his parents a man that he wants to tell him just one word: plastics and then Mrs. Robinson.
She wants him to drive her home, where she starts to maneuver and entice the much younger man, starting to undress:
- Mrs. Robinson, are you trying to seduce me? Has become one of the most famous lines of all time
The same thing can be said about the soundtrack and the lyrics and especially the song by Simon & Garfunkel:
And here's to you, Mrs. Robinson / Jesus loves you more than you will know / Wo wo wo / God bless you, please, Mrs. Robinson
There are many humorous scenes mixed with dramatic and very tense ones, occasioned by the complicated love triangle.
First, Benjamin is involved in a sexual relationship with the woman who is perhaps twenty years his senior, with funny moments at the hotel, where at one moment the receptionist wants to ring the bell only to hit Benjamin who is so shy and ashamed that he wants nobody to know about him being there and what he is up to…
And then he falls in love with the daughter…Elaine Robinson.
And you can imagine the complications, the jealousy, resentment involved when Mrs. Robinson tells all involved about her and Benjamin…
As for the finale…it is one of the most extraordinary in cinema history
And the film is an absolute classic.