The Graduate

Movie Information

Genre: Comedy Drama
Director: Mike Nichols
Starring: Anne Bancroft, Dustin Hoffman, Katharine Ross, William Daniels
Rated: NR

I was too young at 13 for The Graduate when it was released in 1967, and by the time I caught up with it on a 13-inch TV in a 1970s dorm room, in a hideous-looking, pan-and-scan and editedversion, , I was merely baffled by its reputation. Seeing the film as Mike Nichols originally intended, it’s an altogether different experience. However, it now seems a little more important as a key work in an overall picture of film and as a time capsule of its era than as a movie in its own right.

Movies had taken a different turn in the mid-1960s thanks to the impact of Richard Lester and the Beatles — and all that came with them and after them. The Graduate is the first American film to tap into that, but it does so in a bitter, disaffected, disillusioned manner. Rather than ape its Brit cousins, it put a new, very American spin on them — evidenced in its Simon and Garfunkel soundtrack — that was uniquely grounded in the success ethic and U.S. materialism. It spoke directly to American audiences in a way the quirkier British movies didn’t — and it launched a type of film that is with us even today. Think not? Look at the work of David O. Russell and Wes Anderson and think again.

Promoted as a comedy, it’s really a rather sour — and sometimes too smug — indictment of a certain lifestyle and mindset. And it’s a film that realizes the usual reaction to that mindset is no answer in itself, evidenced in its happy ending (cribbed from Harold Lloyd’s 1924 silent Girl Shy), which goes past the happiness to confusion and a sense of hopeless despair.

— reviewed by Ken Hanke

About Ken Hanke
Head film critic for Mountain Xpress from December 2000 until his death in June 2016. Author of books "Ken Russell's Films," "Charlie Chan at the Movies," "A Critical Guide to Horror Film Series," "Tim Burton: An Unauthorized Biography of the Filmmaker."

Before you comment

The comments section is here to provide a platform for civil dialogue on the issues we face together as a local community. Xpress is committed to offering this platform for all voices, but when the tone of the discussion gets nasty or strays off topic, we believe many people choose not to participate. Xpress editors are determined to moderate comments to ensure a constructive interchange is maintained. All comments judged not to be in keeping with the spirit of civil discourse will be removed and repeat violators will be banned. See here for our terms of service. Thank you for being part of this effort to promote respectful discussion.

Leave a Reply

To leave a reply you may Login with your Mountain Xpress account, connect socially or enter your name and e-mail. Your e-mail address will not be published. All fields are required.