“There’s a great future in plastics; think about it.”
Response to Peary’s Review:
Many (including myself) would disagree with Peary’s assertion that The Graduate is “dated”, given its iconic status as a cult favorite, with countless memorable scenes and quotes:
Peary is right, however, to point out that “the acting by Hoffman and Bancroft is super”, with “their scenes together still hold[ing] up”. Indeed, the first half of the film — during which Ben carries out his affair with Mrs. Robinson — is undeniably its funniest and most powerful, with nearly every scene packing a punch, and Nichols establishing himself as a master of sly romantic wit; Bancroft’s seduction of Hoffman will have you laughing out loud, yet simultaneously wincing at Ben’s obvious discomfort. Once Elaine “enters the picture”, it’s true that events take a more somber turn, and one can’t help regretting that Bancroft’s character eventually recedes into the background as a one-dimensional mother-bitch; but Ben’s pursuit of Elaine is ultimately what drives the film, so while we may miss Bancroft, we nonetheless remain glued to the screen, wondering how in the world Ben will salvage the mess that is his love life.
Adding to the film’s appeal is the fact that Ben remains a sympathetic character throughout the entire movie, given that he was clearly (oh, so clearly) the one seduced by Mrs. Robinson; that he tells Elaine about his affair immediately after meeting her, at which point it stops; and that he’s never anything but transparent and sincere about his intentions to put his past with Mrs. Robinson behind him. It’s also easy to relate on a personal level to Ben’s broader existential dilemma, as he contemplates how to craft a life for himself without automatically following in his parents’ footsteps; there’s nothing at all dated about that coming-of-age scenario. Finally, Nichols’ creative direction (which, unlike Peary, I do find impressive), Richard Surtees’ cinematography, fine supporting performances, and Simon & Garfunkel’s instantly recognizable soundtrack all add to the appeal of this deserved cult classic.
Redeeming Qualities and Moments:
(Listed in 1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die)