In this article, Dave Tianen explores the difference between a good film and a good date film. Dating and movie-going are inextricably linked, and this association is one of the arguments used to explain why movie theaters will not become obsolete in the face of DVDs, the Internet, and other technological innovations. Tianen address the disparity in which Citizen Kane is the “perennial choice for greatest film of all time,” yet arguably one of the worst films to see on a date. There are no specific criteria for the “perfect date film” though numerous studies have been conducted to try to figure out what elements of a film make it a good date film and what aspects do not or have no bearing. According to this article, the American Film Institute conducted a study of critics in 2002 to determine the best movie romance and Casablanca was chosen as the best movie romance of all time. Alternatively, Harlequin Books recently conducted a study and polled entertainment and lifestyle editors on the ten most erotic movies of all time, in which 9 ½ Weeks was chosen as the sexiest film ever. In addition, Leslie Halpern compiles a list of the 100 best date movies based on her own first-hand research in her new book entitled Reel Romance: The Lover’s Guide to the 100 Best Date Movies. Halpern’s list does not include or even refer to Harlequin’s sexiest movie of all time, 9 ½ Weeks, demonstrating the level of ambiguity on this subject and the lack of objectivity. In fact, only two movies from Harlequin’s list are on Halpern’s Top 100 list. Tianen resolves this inconsistency by acknowledging that all such studies will inevitably have their own specific criteria and nuances.Mike Nichols’ 1967 film The Graduate does not appear on the AFI 100 Most Romantic Movies List, but surprisingly, it does appear on the Harlequin study. The Graduate ranked number nine for the sexiest movies of all time, according to Harlequin Books. This is somewhat remarkable because the love affair that propels The Graduate to the top of the Harlequin list is not between two young lovers, but rather between a much older married woman and a young, sexually inexperienced recent college graduate. Regardless of whether or not The Graduate is a good or bad date movie, or whether or not it truly is one of the sexiest movies of all time, the relationship between Benjamin Braddock and Mrs. Robinson has solidified itself as one of the greatest love affairs in film history.
In this article, Karen Lurie acknowledges the wide array of interpretations of The Graduate (1967) ranging from a sex farce to a generation gap comedy to a “ballad of alienation and rebellion.” These different interpretations affect the way in which viewers receive and react to the elements of the film itself. Lurie offers a plot summary and touches briefly on a number of the themes and symbols that permeate the film. After this hasty plot summary, Lurie delves into a more critical analysis and assessment of the film, mostly concentrating on its ending and the meanings that viewers impose upon this ending. Lurie argues that the widely accepted view of The Graduate as having a happy ending is forced upon the film by those who are determined to make it a romantic comedy. The way in which Benjamin and Elaine flee the suburban life that they have been restricted by further contributes to the cursory assumption that the ending implies happiness and triumph, but the final scene is actually much more profound and ambiguous. As Benjamin and Elaine sit on the bus driving away from the church, their smiles become forced and then disappear altogether. They do not say a word to one another as the lyrics of Paul Simon’s song “Sounds of Silences” fills the air, “Hello darkness, my old friend…” If one were to critically assess their relationship, though they claim to be in love, Benjamin and Elaine barely know each other. They do not have the support of their families and Benjamin does not have a job. With Paul Simon’s “darkness” foreshadowing a dark future, the ending is not one of bliss and contentment as so many viewers mistakenly believe.Another misconception that Lurie addresses is the view of Benjamin as the figure that is rebelling against the status quo, when actually, Lurie argues, it is Mrs. Robinson. Benjamin seems to enjoy and make use of the very culture that he is supposed to be rebelling against. He is closely associated with his new flashy Alfa Romeo, a graduation present from his parents, and his parent’s swimming pool. Both the car and the pool represent the materialism and superficiality that he supposedly fears and despises. In addition, Benjamin ends up with Elaine, the girl that his parents chose for him. Mrs. Robinson is the true rebel, refusing to accept her submissive role in the patriarchal suburban family and demonstrating her sexuality, confidence, and power.
Call#: Van Pelt Library PN1995.9.C55 R83 2001
The eighth chapter of Mark D. Rubinfeld’s Bound to Bond: Gender, Genre, and the Hollywood Romantic Comedy provides the reader with the fourth and final type of the Hollywood romantic comedy plots, which are outlined throughout the book. These four plots include the pursuit plot, the coldhearted redemption plot, the foil plot, and the permission plot. The permission plot, discussed in Chapter 8, “depicts a romantically involved hero and heroine encountering resistance from a parent and/or authority figure who vehemently disapproves of their courtship” (63). The disapproving figure tends to be a father, although it can be a mother or any person with authority over the hero and heroine. Within the permission plot there are two variations—the acceptance permission plot and the separation permission plot. The acceptance permission plot refers to instances in which the authority figure finally agrees to recognize and accept the relationship, and the hero and heroine are embraced by the formerly disapproving family. The separation permission plot, on the other hand, refers to instances in which the hero and/or the heroine never gain approval from the disapproving authority figure and must decide whether or not to betray their families or end their relationship. Rubinfeld then addresses the ideological contradictions inherent in both variations of the permission plots in that they both eventually support patriarchal ideology while at the same time appearing to challenge it.Even far more ideologically significant, according to Rubinfeld, is the relative lack of films employing permission plots since 1970. Prior to 1970, the permission plot maintained a strong presence. Rubinfeld asserts that the permission plot played a vital role in The Graduate, produced in 1967, which according to box office statistics, is the most popular romantic comedy in history (as of 1999). Despite the widespread success and popularity of The Graduate, only ten of the “top” 155 Hollywood romantic comedies produced from 1970-1999 utilize a permission plot. Rubinfeld attributes this decline to the notion that parents no longer have control over who their children marry. Rubinfeld considers the potential extinction of one of the four integral love story plots to be a grave concern.