This is the original screenplay for The Graduate, from 1967. The screenplay is useful in reviewing conversations and interactions from the movie that have significant word-choice and word placement.
An example of an important scene to analyze is the scene where Benjamin Braddock is speaking with the husband of the woman that he has been having an affair with over a drink or two. Being able to read the conversation helps to understand the social significance of the scene; the conversation represents the control that the counterculture generation of the 60s felt suppressed underneath from their elders.
There are three important points that Edward Morgan makes in his novel, The 60s Experience, that can be used to analyze the plot and characters of The Graduate during the social revolution of the 1960s. These three points include the new generation’s urge to either join society or change it when they reached adulthood, a challenge of authority that lead to defiant behavior, and the contradicting actions and goals that the new generation of the 60s had.
Morgan uses university life to explain the attitudes and behaviors of the counterculture of the 1960s. He discusses how there was a “contradiction between the liberating and the constraining impulses of university life…an either-or choice, either to change society or to join it” (Morgan, 91). This is similar to The Graduate, where the entity of the movie is about Dustin Hoffman’s character torn between going along with what is expected of him and breaking free of tradition. The idea of self-indulgence caused by resisting authority is directly related to The Graduate, where Benjamin Braddock has an affair with a married woman to occupy his listless summer. Lastly, Morgan discusses the how the actions of the counterculture in the 60s was actually “antithetical to the way life is to be lived in their view- spontaneously, openly, for the present, for its own sake..” (Morgan, 91). This accurately interprets the end of this movie, because when Benjamin and Elaine finally break free of their elders, they are lost and unsure of what to do (or so it is insinuated). These three points about the counterculture of the 1960s are important in analyzing Mike Nichols’ film.
Medium Cool is a novel that analyzes the significance of movies in the 1960s. Ethan Mordden takes a large number of the dominating movies from this decade and analyzes them based on their significance in reflecting societal norms, as well as defying the accepted standards, despite criticism.
Part of this novel is dedicated to studying the techniques and effects of The Graduate, which is said to have been one of the more powerfully expressive films of this time. Three important aspects of the movie are discussed, the first being the artistic, intellectualized concept of films that was taken away from movies such as The Graduate. “You couldn’t just know what you liked anymore; you had to know what was art” (Mordden, 181). Movies were becoming segmented towards audiences that were able to interpret what was being shown and appreciate its meaning. The Graduate was said to be filled with “national puzzles” (Mordden, 180) such as wearing scuba gear in a pool, or using a cross to lock church doors. The second important aspect of this film, Mordden claims, is that it showed how movies no longer needed to necessarily enforce accepted social values, but instead become “defiant of the ruling interests” (Mordden, 241). While this movie received criticism from an older generation, its segmented audience received it very well, which successfully continued to feed into the counterculture revolution.
One of the most controversial parts of The Graduate takes place when the recent college graduate, Benjamin Braddock, has an affair with a married friend of the family, Mrs. Robinson. In Summer of Love, Grunnenberg, Cristoph, and Harris discuss avant-garde expression that existed within the leftist counterculture of the 1960s, and how it resulted in the youth exploration of self-hood and its boundaries.
The counterculture of the 1960s was rebellious in experimentation with drugs, sex, and communal activities that “not only gave subculture members a set of common experiences, but also opened up vast new capacities of self-hood for exploration” (Grunnenberg, 35). The subculture of the 1960s slowly realized that they were able to self-direct their lives, which resulted in protest as well as expression in the media. An example of this would be The Graduate, where traditional values are challenged and overcome in a two hour film.
Grunnenberg, Cristoph, and Harris also discuss the “sheer power and desire of music within the counterculture” (45) that grew during the 1960s. The Graduate can be used to exemplify this idea with its soundtrack of Simon and Garfunkle music, which had many political innuendos. The combination of social revolution expression in music and film had powerful effects on 1960s culture.
In Chapter 4 of the novel Social Movements of the 1960s, Stewart Burns discusses the effects of antiwar sentiment towards the end of the 60s decade. While the counterculture sentiments are not directly shown in The Graduate, the results of the antiwar movement can explain the type of sentiment that the main character, Benjamin Braddock, was experiencing in the film.
Burns spends a great deal of time talking about 1965-1967, which is the time that The Graduate was produced. During these few years, Burns talks about how there were “mass demonstrations, campus protests, and mounting draft resistance” as well as “accelerating opposition to the war by liberal intellectuals, journalists, and politicians, and soon by much of the middle class” (Burns, 163). The Graduate, while not directly targeting the mounting tension over the war, was thought to have been a very liberal, intellectual film that covertly addressed this dissent. Burns discusses how the antiwar movement and the “New Left had a significant effect on enlarging freedom of expression” and how it “made nonconformity, active dissent, and questioning of authority more legitimate than ever before in American life” (Burns, 166). This is important because The Graduate does these exact actions; it questions authority in a respected way that caught a lot of people’s attentions. Reading about the effects that antiwar sentiment had on freedom of expression and challenging of authority is important when trying to understand the reasons behind the actions of the main characters in The Graduate.
This is a short book written on the career of Dustin Hoffman, the main actor in The Graduate, through 1984, when it was published. In it, Iain Johnstone recounts Hoffman’s earliest movies, including The Graduate, with quotes from Hoffman himself on making the film, as well as his compatibility with Mike Nichols, the film’s director, during movie production.
The section of this book that discusses The Graduate, refers to several important parts of the movie that deal with the social upheaval of the 1960’s, including the Vietnam War, as well as the power of music.
Both the movie and the original novel use the life of Benjamin Braddock to show the social movement of the teenagers of the mid-1960s. Johnstone discusses how the generational gap is clearly shown “when a party guest offers Beddock one word of career advice- ‘plastics’” (Johnstone, 83). Throughout the movie, however, Mike Nicols is able to communicate to his audience that a more “liberated set of values reigns supreme” (Johnstone, 83) for Dustin Hoffman’s generation.
Johnstone also discusses the importance of the musical score used for The Graduate, and the importance of the musical revolution that went hand-in-hand with the social revolution in the 1960s. The music of the 1960s was extremely political, lashing out against social and political issues. The music of Simon and Garfunkle was used frequently in the movie, which had severe political undertones, while maintaining a calm, almost irritatingly smooth feeling to it. “In the event the soft melodies of Simon and Garfunkel- especially Scarborough Fair- gave a dream-like quality to the picture which was brought harshly into reality.” (Johnstone, 22).
Lastly, this novel discusses Mike Nicols’ decision to omit references to the war in Vietnam. This is obvious when the campus of Berkley is shown and there are no protesters (which would have been a common thing to see at this time). Johnstone discusses how there were lines omitted from the movie that would have been controversial. The movie, however, does have subtle undertones that are meant to refer to the war, along with the social turmoil that the 60s generation of America faced.
In Chapter Six of the novel And the Crooked Places Made Straight, David Chalmers describes the counterculture of the 1960s, including the hippie phase between 1965 and 1967, when The Graduate was released. Although not mentioning the movie, this book is important in learning more about the psychology that went into The Graduate; by understanding the generational conflict of the mid 1960s, audiences can have more of an appreciation for what is trying to be communicated through The Graduate.
During the late 1960s, Chalmers argues that there was a “generational disaffiliation [that] was being transformed into a major level of radical social change” (Chalmers, 89). Calling it the Hippie Phase, Chalmers discusses how the youth of the 1960s socially began to backlash against the industrial generation above them that was very preoccupied with technology and the Vietnam War. Mobilization of this social revolution, Chalmers noted, was also significantly affected by the power of music during this time.
This chapter gives a clear insight into the reasons for the social upheaval of the youth generation of the 1960s, which has a great importance in understanding what was being depicted in The Graduate. Mike Nichols used Charles Webb’s story of Benjamin Braddock to show the life of a young man that was graduating college into the beginning of the 1960’s counterculture.
A large part of The Graduate has to do with the psychoanalysis of the main character, Benjamin Braddock. Mike Nichols uses this film to visually show the audience the inner-workings of the main character. Understanding the basic concepts of psychoanalysis, as explained by Freud, is important because it helps us understand what was happening to the youth generation of the 1960s.
In chapter three of Psychoanalysis: A Critical Introduction, by Ian Craib, one is introduced to the id, ego, and superego, which are said by Freud to encompass the human’s personality and behavior. What is the most striking of the three is the ego or the “I” which “grows out of the struggle between the demands of the internal drives and the demands of the outside world, in order to mediate between them” (Craib, 35). The Graduate is portrayed as a struggle for Benjamin Braddock, and in essence the entire counterculture of the 60s, with the demands of the older generation and what they believe is right.
Freud also speaks of how “the existence of the unconscious itself as the constant unwanted guest at the party, and the ways we try to keep out the threatening desires/idea that it pushes forward” (Craib, 46). What is interesting is how Freud believes that the internal conflicts are what need to be mediated, The Graduate obviously endorses the internal conflicts of the rising generation instead. Learning more about psychoanalysis through this novel in combination with novels on the counterculture of the 1960s create a better understanding of the ideas that are trying to be communicated in The Graduate.
The Graduate, written by Charles Webb, is the original novel that Mike Nichols was able to transform into a movie five years after its release. It is important to skim the original novel, not only to recognize that the movie is based on an original story, but also to compare and contrast the character and plot portrayals in each medium. While there do not seem to be many drastic differences in the plots, each medium is forced to portray the characters in its own way. Webb is able to use complex descriptions to show how the character of Benjamin, for example, is feeling, whereas Nichols must rely solely on visuals.
This novel uses the life of college-graduate Benjamin Braddock to symbolically go against the materialistic American culture that had grown from the postwar years. The novel gives a great political and social insight into the counterculture of the late 1960s, which is later visually depicted by Nichols in the released film. Due to the success of the film, Webb’s novel is usually overlooked, however it is important to read this text to get a better understanding of what was originally expressed by Webb, compared to how Mike Nichols chose to express those same ideas in his movie.
Crossroads: American Popular Culture and the Vietnam Generation is a novel that not only talks about the change in movies during the 1960s, but also about how The Graduate portrays these changes.
During the mid to late sixties, there continued to be an increase in leisure time, and a continual shift from city life to suburb life, which resulted in more movie-going. This resulted in movies that were less directed at mass audiences, and more directed at segmented audiences. At this time, teenagers were the most frequent movie-goers, which resulted in the creation of many films that expressed “a sense of social alienation and personal rebellion” (Mitchell, 86).
When discussing The Graduate in chapter 3, Mitchell speaks of how the characters Elaine and Benjamin both accurately portray this sense of alienation and rebellion. They both have “anxiety and struggle over conforming to social expectations” (Mitchell, 87). This is a good novel to reference when watching The Graduate, because it makes viewers aware of the Attempt that Hollywood made at directing their films during this time towards segmented audiences, specifically the teenager, counterculture generation. This was successful because teenagers were able to empathize with the problems that the main characters in The Graduate were facing.
Interestingly, this is another article written about The Graduate by Roger Ebert for the Chicago Sun Times. He approaches his review slightly differently here, through the lens of comedy. In his later review of the film, he discusses the blandness of the characters, but alternately in this article, he discusses their subtle humor. In some ways, he relates these two things implying that the humoristic gawkiness of the characters comes from their quiet mouthed, simple minded personalities. While The Graduate is not a film that is readily recognized for comic aspects, they are very much present.
Firstly, Ebert's article makes an important point about comedy in general. It does not have to be drawn from obvious punch lines, but can come from quirky points of view. He discusses a new type of British film, popular at the time, which incorporated this new style of comedy. Rather than having characters react to funny situations, "the movie itself reacts by what it shows next." In The Graduate, some of the humor is derived from the honesty and embarrassment of the characters.
The real comedy, though, comes when audiences are able to step back and realize the outrageous story that they are watching. Ben is seduced by his parents good friend in their strict suburban society, and ends up falling classically (almost) in love with her daughter, Elaine. He bangs on the church doors to stop Elaine from marrying the wrong man and rides away with her on the back of a bus. It is simple descriptions like this that show the true humor of the plot.
An interesting detail about this film that is often overlooked is that fact that Buck Henry, who plays the hotel clerk, collaborated with Nichols and in addition to adding comedy on-screen, he added a lot of humor to the script. (Buck Henry is now one of the countries funniest comedians.)
This excerpt gives a very detailed and relevant account of the 1960s counterculture. The author discusses this new culture in three major categories: music, sex, and politics. All three of these things can very closely be tied to The Graduate.
Rock and roll culture really took off in the 1960s. The Beatles first came to America in 1964 and generated the passionate young fans that fueled the entire rock and roll industry. Perhaps it was because of the free and individual nature that the bands stood for, but the followings were huge, and were only getting huger. Songs like "Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds" would make children feel rebellious without ever even trying LSD. Paul Simon and Art Garfunkle provided the entire soundtrack for The Graduate, which not only made Ben Braddock seem like he was a youngster that fit in with the times, but also drew many young audiences to the film.
The second important facet of the counterculture was the sexual revolution. It started in 1949 with the publication of the Kinsey report by Alfred Kinsey. His studies, although later proven somewhat false, revealed that heterosexual sex among married couples was no longer the only sexual activity people were willing to admit to. Heterosexuality and polygamy were revealed, and were no longer considered outrageous. This more widely accepted sexual culture arrived because of many reasons, one of them medical. In the late 50s and 60s many medical advances were made allowing for the spread of the sexual revolution, including the introduction of antibiotics that might be able to cure sexually transmitted diseases, and the first birth control pill. The average age at which Americans lost their virginity began to decrease while the average number of sexual partners a person had in a lifetime increased. This sexual explicitness, especially with the ideas of adultery and seduction, was clearly exposed in 1967s The Graduate.
The last important thing that is quickly mentioned is the idea that youths were likely to cling to the ideals of democracy. In the 60s, liberalism captured the attention of many youths as their way of rebelling, and this is a third thing that is evident in the film. This short excerpt is a great succinct summary of the ways in which The Graduate was truly a reflection of its time.
"Graduating with Honors" is the New York Times' first review of The Graduate, written by Bosley Crowther on New Years Eve 1967. Crowther claims that writing about this movie as his last ever review as a Times film critic is an honor. It is one of the strongest film reviews that I have ever read in the New York Times, praising everything from the music, to the acting, to the direction and humor. The article recognizes the "american-ness" of both the setting and the characters. It talks about Nichols ability to create a brilliant satire on the American affluent society, with its roots in his older skits with Elaine May.
Crowther describes the cinematic style as "aggressive and full of surprise", which is exactly what Nichols was going for. Interestingly, he does not refer to Simon and Garfunkle as the celebrated artists they are today; rather, he nonchalantly mentions that their music is included in the film, creating appropriate moods. He also keeps referring to Dustin Hoffman as a new talent, which seems so interesting looking back, although it is reasonable that this movie would have put him on the map as an actor. Anne Bancroft is deemed the best woman for the role of Mrs. Robinson, and Katherine Ross is claimed to be the perfect mixture of innocent girlishness and naivety to form a believable Elaine.
Crowther reveals the affair with Mrs. Robinson in a slightly different light from many other critics. After describing the typical nature of the affluent Beverly Hills society, he indicates that this incident is a revelation of the corruption that is often present behind the scenes of such phony lifestyles. It seems significant that a writer at the time, who was probably emerged in a similar lifestyle, was able to recognize and indicate the fallacy of the "perfect" suburbs.
This article is especially important because the New York Times is probably the most widely influential newspaper in the country. Movie fans await the rare occasion upon which the Times will give such high praise to a film. The Graduate is one of the few films deserving of such wonderful ratings in all of its various facets.
The Graduate was an incredibly inspirational film, putting a spin on the classic coming of age story. The plot behind it proved to be very popular and inspired subplots in many movies afterwards. Most recently, Rumor Has It, was made about the family whose twisted story inspired Nichols to make The Graduate. The movie got mediocre reviews, because audiences are constantly comparing it to remarkableness of The Graduate.
When watching this movie, we realize that we have falsely pinpointed what it was that we loved about The Graduate. It was the characters of course, but more specifically, it was the way they handled their situations in the confused time in which they lived. The Graduate was a brilliant presentation of groundbreaking directing, story-telling, and acting of the time. However, there was nothing special about any of those three things in Rumor Has It.
There are also many aspects of this new movie in discord from what audiences were led to believe about the original Graduate characters. The best example lies in Kevin Costner's character, the adult Ben Braddock. Perhaps it is merely irony, but Costner, works for Microsoft, which is basically the "plastic" of today. It seems like a new and exciting technology, however staring at a computer screen all day in a small cubical couldn't be further from the unrestricted life that Braddock longed for.
The Graduate was used as the underlying plot in hopes of drawing viewers to the new film. But the film failed miserably in living up to its standards. It leaves audiences unfulfilled, yet reminded of the enchanting original
This article, "Rock and Roll Soundtracks in the Production of Nostalgia", written by David Shumway for Cinema Journal, discusses a very important aspect of this movie: the soundtrack. It describes that in life, our auditory sense plays a huge role in evoking specific memories and emotions. Simon and Garfunkle's 1967 hit, Mrs. Robinson, does that for audiences that have ever seen The Graduate. Consisting only of songs by Simon and Garfunkle, a favorite of Mike Nichols, the soundtrack is one of the most memorable aspects of the masterpiece. Firstly, since the movie contains only the voice of Paul Simon, the songs are more substantial as the only non-diegetic aspect. In addition, the film, for the most part, has rather simple dialogues and uninteresting visuals, and often, audiences are taken inside the minds of the characters. The score in the background sets an appropriate tone for these scenes.
The fact that the music is that of Simon and Garfunkle, a popular duo at the time, reflects the youthfulness that Nichols is trying to evoke in Ben's character. The rock and roll plays into the counterculture that was so imminent at the time the film was released.
Although most of the Simon and Garfunkle songs had been released a few years before the movie, "Mrs. Robinson" was written specifically for the film. Nichols approached Paul Simon and begged him to write music for the score, but Simon said he was too busy. However, he quickly played him "Mrs. Robinson", which was originally "Mrs. Roosevelt" and was a song discussing times past. Nichols insisted that the name be changed so that it could be included in the score of his movie. Since the song was new and fit perfectly into the rock and roll genre that was quickly rising in 1967, audiences at the time were very likely to remember the new catchy tune and recall the wonderful and innovative film, The Graduate.
This article "Religion and Sex" written by Don Lattin in the San Francisco Chronicle, discusses many of the moral issues of the 1960s raised by the film The Graduate. He argues that American culture, starting in the 60s, began to move quickly away from traditions of religion. In fact, sixty five percent of baby boomers believed that individuals should freely associate themselves with certain religions without being influenced by factions such as church groups. Americans' minds have become increasingly consumed with thoughts of sex and promiscuity as opposed to Jesus and the Bible.
As we move further away from the religious society that Lattin hopes for, we begin to lose values and lose sight of what's truly important. In The Graduate, Hoffman's character, Ben, is straight out of college and is quickly bombarded by the new culture of the 60s. Since society seemed to have moved far from tradition, more and more opportunities seemed to present themselves, leaving Ben, and the rest of his generation confused with too many potential directions to turn in.
Lattin argues that, beginning in the 60s, "with flowers in their hair and lust in their hearts", young Americans adopted the sexual revolution, making traditionally promiscuous things seem almost mundane. Homosexuality became more readily accepted along with ideas of extramarital and premarital sex. Polygamy became expected and it seemed that few people like Lattin still held onto traditional beliefs.
Benjamin Braddock never fully breaks Lattin's traditional barriers and never fully allows the new racy society to completely consume him. What is most important about his character is that he was able to "follow his bliss". Although Ben was presented with all of these new opportunities both sexually and in the fast-growing plastic world, in the end, he resorts to tradition.
From plastic, to suburbia, to masculinity, to entrapment, this article, written by Robert Beuka for the Journal of Popular Film and Television., discusses the essential issues raised by The Graduate. The title of the article comes from an important line in the movie in which a family friend of the Braddock's, Mr. McGuire, has only one suggestion for Ben in terms of his future..."plastics." This idea of plastic is mirrored in the suburban life that Ben returns to after graduating from college. Blocks and blocks of individual houses with small cars and rectangular pools structure the suburbia that seems impossible to escape. As an insecure and confused 20 year old, he is looking for any excuse to break out of the entrapment. Water is a symbol of escape from the American Dream that will inevitably be pushed on him. He jumps into the pool to drown out the voices of his parents and their friends and stares at them through the cloudy water, blurring their hopes for him.
Mrs. Robinson provided a perfect opportunity to escape from the bland environment of dinner parties and trivial conversations he is forced to engage in. As much as he wants to resist her sexuality, she provides a new and more interesting frontier for him to experiment with. She also represents a reversal of traditional roles. In the suburban culture, the man is supposed to be the master. He is supposed to come home from work and find the meatloaf waiting on the table. However, in Ben's relationship with Mrs. Robinson, he often finds himself being the submissive one. By trying to resist her sexuality, he attempts to prove his masculinity.
Another important point made in this essay is that Ben Braddock's character bridged the gap between the suburbia culture that ruled much of the 50s and the counterculture that emerged in the late 60s. He tries to rebel against the uniformity and conformity of the past, while he cant quite grasp the liberal and relaxed atmosphere of the near future. He eventually finds himself trapped somewhere between these two, his internal controversy still not resolved.
~ "Americans in that era faced many controversial issues from civil rights, the Vietnam War ,nuclear arms, and the environment to drug use, sexual freedom, and nonconformity" Hoffman once cleverly commented. ~
In this article "The Graduate" written for the Chicago Sun Times, Roger Ebert approaches his review of the film slightly differently than others. Rather than claiming that the movie was typical of the 1960s counterculture, he stresses the idea that, in fact, most elements of that culture were left out of the film. There are "no flower children, no hippies, no dope, no rock music, no political manifestos and no danger." Ebert points out the true blandness of the script and the characters, which many people would overlook, because it is overshadowed by the wonderful directing techniques.
His point is valid. If you look at each of the main characters individually, they are standard representations of classic personalities that existed at the time, placed in (for the most part) standard controversial situations, and handling them with standard responses. Ebert provides an accurate and simple description of Elaine's character's thoughts and adventures causing readers to realize that her character had little depth. She only shows some substantial emotion when she finds out that Ben has been sleeping with her mother, but then again, who wouldn't react similarly?
Although it seems like a criticism of the movie, the lackluster of the characters worked for two reasons. Firstly, it offset the complexity of Mrs. Robinson, allowing her character to shine as a sexual and flamboyant. In addition, it allowed both the soundtrack and the directing to shine as groundbreaking innovations in the film industry.
This article is a film review in Film Quarterly that provides a very typical response to the movie The Graduate. It is especially significant because it was written in 1968, the year after the movie was released. Because of this, the author cannot take a step back and put the movie's many messages into the context of the time, as we see it today. Rather, he is emerged in the 60s culture. Although he can still recognize the "suburban phoniness" that Ben Braddock is stuck in, for the most part his opinions are slightly skewed.
The article first discusses the importance of Nichols being a young director. Because he was young, he could bring fresh perspectives to the world of directing and could develop realistic, youthful characters. This is important, especially with Ben, who is the audiences are desperately to understand, because Nichols clearly creates a character with genuine feelings and emotions. Ben's lifelike character can also be attributed to the wonderful acting of Dustin Hoffman. When necessary, he can portray the utmost awkwardness perfectly revealing the confusion in coming of age in the 1960s. Another interesting aspect of Ben's simple character is that he can overcome the Mrs. Robinson's sexuality, which seems like a strong decision to be made by such a simple character. Although perhaps he only appears so simple when placed next to Mrs. Robinson, who's character is incredibly complex and sophisticated.
Another juxtaposition discussed in this article is the quirkiness and eccentricity of Ben's love affair with Mrs. Robinson versus his love for Elaine, which appears traditional and classic. It really depicts a difference between sex and love.
Turman has two main criticisms of the movie. Caught up in the sexual revolution, Turman has become accustomed to the overly sexual society emerging in America at the time. He therefore believes that there is a lack of sex in the movie, which he states is one of its downfalls. His second criticism is that the movie doesn't fully develop the oedipal psychological aspects that it could have. Nevertheless, it is impossible to deny the immediate widespread appreciation for the film.
Mike Nichols was born on November 6, 1931 in Berlin. His family moved to America when he was seven and five years later, his father died, causing incredible financial issues for his family. Nichols worked very hard in school to fulfill his dream of being accepted at the Universtiy of Chicago. However, in his college years, he quickly grew tired of academic life and small jobs. He dropped out and eventually joined a group of actors in Chicago that formed the Compass, which gave him some wonderful connections is the acting/film world, the most important being Elaine May. Elaine May had a profound affect on Nichols, inspiring him to mock the ordinary and typical, and look towards the unconventional. The two of them became stars in the Satire Boom, poking fun at mainstream American culture, which was something Nichols would later include in many of his movies. By the early 60s, they were finished working with each other, and Nichols began working on his first major film, a theater translation of Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? It was a groundbreaking translation and with stars like Elizabeth Taylor in his first movie, he was quickly put on the map as a wonderful director. This paved the way for his next movie The Graduate, which included some of the most playful and youthful directing ever seen at that time. He wanted to create his own individual path in the directing world, and proved very capable of this with the interesting perspectives in this inventive film. Although he made a name for himself in these early films, the nature of the movies he created took a different twist after The Graduate. As he continued down this path, critics began to lessen their reviews of him, because although his films were always cinematically artistic, they no longer contained great concepts about society.
Nichols' influence in the film world reaches many directors today. Certain scenes, such as the one with the scuba equipment epitomize the way that his novel directing could add to the mood of otherwise simple stories. The director of a movie plays an integral part in giving the film its own unique style, as Nichols did with The Graduate.
Call#: Van Pelt Library PN2285 .N25 2003
In his novel Seriously Funny: The Rebel Comedians of the 1950s and 1960s, Gerald Nachman provides a thorough review and assessment of some of the greatest comedians of the 1950s and 1960s. The book is divided into chapters dedicated solely to a specific comedian or team of comedians. These notable figures range from Mort Sahl and Tom Lehrer in the 1950s to Bob Newhart and Woody Allen in the 1960s. Nachman gives intimate accounts of how these comedians came to fame and the events and people that inspired them. Each chapter goes into painstaking detail about the comedians’ childhoods, families, and educations. The book is filled not only with evocative quotes from the comedians themselves, but also from those who had close relations with these individuals.
In the chapter entitled “Double Jeopardy,” Nachman contemplates the careers and lives of Mike Nichols and Elaine May, arguably one of the greatest comedic teams of all time. Nichols and May were a product of the Compass Players in Chicago, which has produced many of the world’s most prominent writers and comedians. They dominated the American comedic stage for four years until their sudden breakup in 1961. Despite the brevity of their four year stint, the plays that they wrote, directed, and acted in transformed American comedy. Nachman states that they are “perhaps the most ardently missed of all the satirical comedians of their era” (319). According to Nichols’ ex-agent, the breakup with May drove him into a “state of depression… he really wasn’t functioning” (351). Despite the profound psychological effects of the breakup, the two recovered and went on to develop their individual careers. While May continued to write comedies, Nichols focused on directing. Nichols’ first two films, Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? (1966) and The Graduate (1967) were major hits and secured him a role as one of Hollywood’s leading directors. The Graduate won Nichols an Academy Award for Best Director and a nomination for Best Picture. Though May’s career has not been as celebrated as Nichols’, the two reunited in 1996 when Nichols directed The Birdcage, which May adapted from the play La Cage aux Folles. Nachman provides a deeply personal and thorough account of the stunning and influential comedic duo of Nichols and May.
NPR’s Don Lee offers a fact-based analysis of the behind-the-scenes events and decisions that led to the creation of a movie that has become a cultural icon. Mike Nichols’ The Graduate was the top-grossing film of 1968, garnered seven Academy Award nominations, introduced “one of the most recognizable soundtracks in movie history,” and helped to launch the careers of Mike Nichols, Buck Henry, and Dustin Hoffman. Lee explores the differences between The Graduate, the film, and The Graduate, the book. Charles Webb published the novel in 1963, which producer Lawrence Turman read and decided to make into a movie. Turman, along with screenwriter Buck Henry and director Mike Nichols, remained extremely faithful to the novel, with the exception of two significant adaptations. First of all, Turman and Nichols decided to cast the Braddocks as dark-haired and more ethnic-looking, rather than as the WASP-y blonde characters from the novel. Secondly, in the film, Benjamin dramatically crashes Elaine’s wedding only to find that she has already exchanged vows and is officially married. This does not stop Elaine from running off with Benjamin after they lock her family and the rest of the guests in the church, showing their rejection of the restraints of traditional values. In the book, however, Benjamin arrives at the wedding before she has said her vows, and they run off together in a much less controversial and less shocking fashion. According to Lee, Nichols can be credited with this bold modification.The original novel obviously deals with the generation gap, but Henry’s screenplay combined with Nichols’ astute directing skills allow for a brutally honest depiction of the relationship between adults and their children, which resonated strongly in the social context of the late 1960s. The widening generation gap was reaching new levels as children were searching for additional ways to distance themselves from the control and influence of their parents. Lee includes a quote from Peter Biskind, author of Easy Riders, Raging Bulls: How the Sex’n’Drugs’n’Rock’n’Roll Generation Saved Hollywood, which articulates the main theme of the film: “the adult world is artificial, is superficial, on some level immoral and irrelevant to the concerns of young people.” It is this theme in conjunction with Henry and Nichols’ ability to capture the essence of the generation gap that propelled this film to number seven on The American Film Institute’s list of the greatest films of the century.
Gavin Smith’s extensive interview with Mike Nichols on his career and his films is preceded by an honest and astute critique of the renowned filmmaker. According to Smith, Mike Nichols was a certified genius at the age of twelve and had become a “show-business legend” by the mid-1950s with his comedic collaborations with Elaine May. He entered the world of directing in 1963 when he directed Neil Simon’s play, Barefoot in the Park. In 1966, he crossed the threshold from stage to film. Nichols did not transition from stage to film slowly, but rather agreed to direct Edward Albee’s high-profile Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, starring Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton. His first attempt at film direction culminated in an Academy Award nomination. His second film, The Graduate (1967) proved to be an even greater success than Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? The Graduate earned him an Oscar for Best Director and a nomination for Best Picture.Smith asserts that The Graduate, arguably Nichols’ best film, was one of the first films to transform the movie-going experience in the late 1960s, causing audience members to come back for multiple viewings, which led to the creation of “The Film Generation.” The Graduate has become a “time-capsule movie,” that not only provides a historical account of a past generation and environment, but also allows for the fond reminiscence of the lifestyle and sentiments of the 1950s and 1960s. More importantly, The Graduate, according to Smith, “plugs us back into a moment in the consciousness of the American movie audience.” With The Graduate, Nichols exploits the relationship between the viewer and the screen. Viewers were suddenly forced to notice camera placement, shot duration, and the focal length of lenses through Nichols’ use of awkwardly long takes, deep setups with shallow fields of focus, purposely unfocused shots, and jarring editing. In stark contrast to the continuous editing techniques and realistic filmic styles of typical Hollywood directors, Nichols makes the audience aware of the camera and manipulates the audience’s view of the world. Nichols exploits time, space, and reality to illustrate his themes of paranoia, entrapment, emptiness, and superficiality. While Nichols has not made any other films that address the transition from boyhood into adulthood and his filmic styles and cinematic techniques have evolved, his work in The Graduate set a strong foundation for his future successes.
The first major inconsistency deals with the overall nature of the movie. Simon argues that the film starts out as an “outrageous comedy” and then in the middle suddenly changes gears and becomes a “sentimental near-drama.” Simon considers this abrupt change of tone and genre to be a major flaw. Simon presents the counterargument for this assertion, in which many argue that the two tones—the comedic and the dramatic—are intertwined in varying amounts throughout the entire film. Furthermore, this counterargument contends that Benjamin’s true love for Elaine changes him and justifies the shift to a more romantic, serious tone. Simon responds to that counter by arguing that it is not so much the change in tone that mandates the inconsistency, but the change in the overall nature of a character. Benjamin’s apparent transformation from a “nonstop fumbler” to a “master sleuth” is unwarranted and unrealistic. It is this inconsistency of character, along with the other six aforementioned weaknesses, by which Simon considers The Graduate an ultimate disappointment. In addition to these grand thematic inconsistencies, Simon finds multiple relatively trivial inconsistencies throughout the film. The most obvious of which is Benjamin’s tendency to continue using Mrs. when he speaks to Mrs. Robinson in spite of the fact that they have been engaging in a sexual relationship for a long period of time. While Simon regards this to be an inconsistency, many viewers would argue that Benjamin calling her Mrs. Robinson reveals the fundamental nature of their relationship.
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.
This article, aptly titled “Movie Moms” begins with the statement, “‘M’ is for the many… movies about Mother” and addresses the roles that mothers play in Hollywood cinema. Diane Dudek recognizes that the role of the mother in film is often trivialized or stereotyped, which actually echoes real life, as many mothers feel that their role is taken for granted. Dudek acknowledges that countless portrayals of particular roles in film are stereotyped or at least shown inaccurately, and finds the role of the mother to be no exception. Dudek humorously states that mothers in film are typically the “epicenter of trauma, sacrifice, Prozac and Oedipal conflicts.” That being said, Dudek sees the lack of variety in the role of mothers in film to be improving. This can be attributed to the increasing variety in the roles of women, and therefore mothers, in real life; however, mothers in film are now taking on roles of the female equivalent of classic aggressive and violent male prototypes. Examples of this role include Meryl Streep’s character in The River Wild and Jamie Lee Curtis in Mother’s Boys. Dudek includes quotes from Phyllis Threinen, the founder of the Call Mom Line, a support group for women, and Susan Martin, “keeper” of the Moms-At-Home website, to provide further evidence for the disparity between the role of mothers in society and how they are portrayed in film.
Dudek organizes the role of mothers in film into six categories: Saintly Moms, Vengeful Moms, Stage Moms, Oedipal Moms, Mothers & Daughters, and Miscellaneous Moms. Dudek provides numerous examples of films that portray mothers in all six of these categories. She uses the example of Mrs. Robinson, from Mike Nichols’ The Graduate, as the epitome for Oedipal Moms. Though there are two mothers portrayed in The Graduate, and Mrs. Robinson is not actually Benjamin’s mother, Dudek argues that she serves as a “mother surrogate.” One might argue that Benjamin’s relationship with Mrs. Robinson is one between lovers and not a mother/son relationship; however, even when they have been sleeping together for a long period of time, Benjamin still refers to her as Mrs. Robinson, solidifying her role as an elder. The development of Benjamin’s relationship with Elaine, in which Mrs. Robinson truly is the biological mother figure, further contributes to Mrs. Robinson’s role as a mother surrogate.
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.
In this comprehensive article, Robert Beuka looks at Mike Nichols’ The Graduate in the context of the expanding suburban landscape of the 1950s and 1960s. He addresses The Graduate as a coming of age film in which Benjamin Braddock (Dustin Hoffman) is faced with the challenges of growing up and becoming a man in an increasingly materialistic world. Benjamin’s fear of entering this world is both explicitly and implicitly referred to from the opening scene until the conclusion of the film. The title of this article, “Just One World… ‘PLASTICS’” alludes to the piece of advice that Benjamin’s father’s friend, Mr. McGuire, imposes upon Benjamin in the very beginning of the film and, according to Beuka, serves as an “apt metaphor for the very lifestyle Ben fears he may be on the verge of entering.” Beuka asserts that Benjamin represents the entire generation of young males facing adulthood in this highly materialistic and contrived environment of upper middle class suburbia. Plastic is highly representative of the empty and superficial nature of this suburban lifestyle, as is the recurring use of the swimming pool, which not only illustrates materialism, but also symbolizes the “self-destructive narcissism of the suburban dream.” Beuka also focuses on the issue of masculinity and the theme of suburban emasculation. The insecurity inherent in the image of the utopian patriarchal family led to a repressive role for adult males, who were trapped in an almost childlike state. It is this predetermined role and “plastic” lifestyle, which Benjamin sees his father living, that he fears most.Essentially, Beuka argues that Nichols uses the setting of upper middle class suburbia, complete with its big houses, nice cars, and abundant swimming pools, to highlight the view of postwar suburbia as vacuous and unfulfilling. This view, which just was emerging as the children of the suburban experience were entering adulthood, and the recurring theme of entrapment, facilitated by the underwater scenes in the swimming pool, are illustrated by the relationship between Benjamin and Mrs. Robinson. Their affair serves as an “oedipal reaction to his parents’ denial of his own manhood” and embodies his constant struggle to break away from the restrictions placed on him by his parents and his suburban lifestyle. The final scene of the film in which he flees on a bus with Elaine, his girlfriend, demonstrates his triumph over these restraints.
Call#: Van Pelt Library PN1998.A3 N487
In Mike Nichols, H. Wayne Schuth traces the career of the world-renowned director through his sudden and spectacular rise to fame and his subsequent disappointments. Schuth notes the unusual nature of Nichols’ career, in that he was given the opportunity to direct a high-profile film without first having to put in any long, tedious years gaining experience in the film industry. With this initial film, Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, Nichols was able to establish himself as a major film director. His next film, The Graduate, produced just one year later, made him a celebrity. While Schuth concentrates on the unique and extraordinary talent that Nichols possesses as a director, he also does not hesitate to focus on the films that Nichols has directed since his first two hits. While most authors tend to ignore or downplay the disappointing performances of films such as Catch-22, Carnal Knowledge, and The Fortune, Schuth addresses these films head-on and explores why they were not well-received by audiences. Schuth looks at the poor performances of these three films in the context of Nichols’ celebrated work on Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? and The Graduate. Schuth not only considers the films themselves, but also what Nichols has said about his intentions with each of the films, to comprehensively compare and contrast the work that Nichols did on the different films.
The Graduate is arguably Nichols’ most successful film, so Schuth spends a great deal of time analyzing Nichols’ interpretation of the story and how he translated this interpretation cinematically. Schuth focuses on three elements—color, music, and visual motif—to examine Nichols’ intentions. These three elements are used both overtly and implicitly to symbolize different meanings and to convey or provoke various sentiments. Schuth presents many innovative and perceptive interpretations regarding the themes and relationships present in the film. For example, he perceives that the “idea that sex and love are separated, with sex destructive and love constructive” appears in the film. Schuth offers an in-depth analysis of the minute details of the film as well as the larger thematic aspects that bind the film as a whole.
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.