Archive for Ann Bancroft

The Graduate

Posted in Classics, Comedy, Drama, Movie Reviews with tags , , , , , , , on February 27, 2013 by Mystery Man

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

Benjamin Braddock, who will soon turn 21, returns to his parents’ home in Southern California after graduating from a college on the East Coast. At his graduation party, all his parents’ friends want to know about Benjamin’s upcoming plans for graduate school or a career, something about which Benjamin is clearly uncomfortable and anxious. His parents ignore his anxiety and are only interested in talking about his academic and athletic successes and their plans for him to attend graduate school.

Mrs. Robinson, the wife of his father’s law partner, asks Benjamin to drive her home from the party. She invites Benjamin inside and attempts to seduce him, removing her clothes. She tells Benjamin, who becomes increasingly nervous, that she finds him attractive and wants him to know that she is available to him anytime. Mr. Robinson arrives home but neither sees nor suspects anything. He advises Benjamin that he should relax and enjoy his youth while he still can. A few days later, Benjamin contacts Mrs. Robinson and organizes a tryst at a hotel, and the two begin an affair.

Benjamin spends the summer floating in a pool by day and meeting Mrs. Robinson at the hotel at night. Through their encounters, Benjamin discovers that they have nothing in common but also learns that Mrs. Robinson was forced to give up college and marry someone she did not love when she became pregnant with her daughter, Elaine.

However, under increasing pressure from his parents to begin a career or enroll in grad school, Benjamin is set up on a date with Elaine, whom Benjamin last saw in high school, by his father and Mr. Robinson. Although Mrs. Robinson has made it clear to Benjamin that he is to have nothing to do with Elaine, Benjamin eventually succumbs to the pressure and takes Elaine out on a date. During the course of their date, Benjamin goes out of his way to mistreat and be rude to Elaine, even going as far as taking her to a lewd strip joint, in order to sabotage the evening. As Elaine begins to sob, Benjamin explains his motives and that he only asked her out on a date as an obligation from each of their fathers. The two reconcile, and kiss, and each discover that they are able to discuss their current worries and their plans for future happiness.

Upon Benjamin’s arriving at the Robinsons’ home to take Elaine out again, Mrs. Robinson threatens to reveal to Elaine her earlier relationship with Benjamin. However, Benjamin preemptively blurts out the details of his affair to Elaine before Mrs. Robinson can make good on her threat. Upset and heartbroken, Elaine returns to Berkeley and severs all communication with Benjamin.

Benjamin resolves that he must marry Elaine, and follows her to Berkeley. There, he interrupts a date between Elaine and a classmate, Carl. Later that evening, Elaine confronts Benjamin, asking what he is doing there after having raped her mother while she was drunk. Benjamin reveals his side of the story to Elaine and that he was the one who was pursued by Mrs. Robinson, which further upsets Elaine. Benjamin tells Elaine he will leave her alone, but Elaine asks him to remain.

The following day, Elaine confronts Benjamin again and asks him to kiss her. Although Benjamin wants to marry Elaine and presses her to obtain a blood test so they can wed, Elaine laments that she has already told Carl that she might marry him. Mr. Robinson, who has learned about his wife’s affair with Benjamin, goes to Benjamin’s apartment in Berkeley and berates him, threatening to have him prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law, should Benjamin ever come near Elaine again. He forces Elaine to drop out of school and takes her away to marry Carl. Elaine leaves Benjamin a note saying that although she loves him, her father’s anger would never lead to Benjamin’s acceptance as Elaine’s husband.

Benjamin races back to Pasadena looking for Elaine but finds Mrs. Robinson, who tells him he cannot stop the wedding. Benjamin learns from Carl’s fraternity brothers that the wedding is taking place in Santa Barbara. En route to the church, his car runs out of gas, forcing him to run the final few blocks to the chapel, arriving just in time to see Elaine and Carl, already married, in the traditional kiss. Watching from the loft at the back of the church, Benjamin bangs on the glass window and screams, “Elaine!” several times, in a desperate attempt to win her over. With some hesitation, Elaine returns a cry of “Ben!” and rushes toward Benjamin. A brawl breaks out as everyone tries to stop her and Benjamin from leaving. Elaine manages to break free from her mother, who claims “It’s too late!”, to which Elaine replies, “Not for me!” Benjamin and Elaine escape the chapel by using a wooden cross on the double chapel doors, thereby trapping the people therein. Then they flag down a bus. After making their way to the back seat of the bus as it pulls away, Elaine in her wedding dress and Benjamin in tattered clothing, they both initially appear ecstatic about their dramatic escape. Gradually however, this exhilaration subsides, with Benjamin just looking forward and Elaine occasionally looking at Benjamin, into realisation of what they have done. In the closing shot, Elaine and Benjamin are shown through the rear window sitting at the back of the bus as it travels down the road.

REVIEW:

As I was watching The Graduate just now, I got to thinking about how relevant this film is now that it is 2013, as opposed to 1967, when it was released. Talk about staying relevant, right? All this because people in our society seem to have a thing for May-December romances. I think the correct term used nowadays is “cougar”, right?

What is this about?

Dustin Hoffman (in his first major film role) turns in a landmark performance as a naïve college graduate who is seduced by a middle-aged neighbor (Anne Bancroft) but ends up falling in love with her beautiful, young daughter (Katharine Ross).

What did I like?

Mumbles. Ladies and gentlemen, allow me to introduce you to our star, Dustin Hoffman! Yes, this is the major film debut of one of the greatest actors of our time. A friend of mine said that he and Pacino, resembled each other in their younger days. Looking at them now, you’d never guess, but look at Hoffman here and Pacino in The Godfather films and yes, you can see it a little bit. I was mostly impressed with how Hoffman handles his first role like a seasoned professional. You would never guess that this was his debut.

Cougar. Ann Bancroft’s role was apparently very highly coveted at the time this was being cast, with names like Ingrid Bergman, Audrey Hepburn, Ava Gardner, Rita Hayworth, Lana Turner, Angela Lansbury, etc. vying for it. Personally, I probably would have gone with Gardner or Turner, maybe even Hayworth, but this director went with Bancroft. In hindsight, I don’t think he made a bad choice. Bancroft has a look about her that gives off the attractive older lady that you grew up around, but not drop dead gorgeous that way some of these women would have no doubt brought to it. That is not to say Bancroft was ugly, but rather that she has a more realistic look to her.

College boy. When I graduated college, I didn’t have a big celebration or anything like that leading to being able to sit in my parents’ pool all summer (if we would’ve had one). I had to get a job pretty much before I graduated. Luckily, my chosen profession has lots of rollover and I was able to find one, but I am a little jealous of this guy who got to get a degree and then do nothing. I guess that is one of the perks of being alive in the 60s.

What didn’t I like?

Tonal shift. Not long after Hoffman dismisses Mrs. Robinson, for lack of a better term, the film takes a rather different tone. It goes from being more of a comedy to a somewhat dark drama. I half expected Bancroft to start screaming about wire hangers when she was ordering him to stay away from her daughter, but I guess that’s a different film. I wish this film would have kept the same tone throughout or, at the very least, not made such a dramatic shift.

Mother and daughter. What is it about these Robinson women that has Hoffman so vexed? He has the perfect setup with Mrs. Robinson, free sex with an older, married women..no strings attached, as far as we know. Then he gets her daughter, who apparently has a mutual affection for him. Through some manipulation by Mrs. Robinson, he has to break up with her, but he then goes up and down the California coast stalking her. He even moves into a boarding house in the town where she is taking classes, not to mention just sits in on classes, according to him. Someone does that these days and the first thing that would happen is they’d have the cops called. Don’t we all wish we could go back to these simpler times?

KITT. This is nothing against the actor, William Daniels, but everytime I heard him talk two characters came running through my mind, KITT from Knight Rider and Mr. Feeney from Boy Meets World. Through no fault of his own, his voice is more famous than he, maybe to a fault, as it can be a bit of a distraction.

The Graduate may have the distinction of putting the song “Mrs. Robinson” on the map for Simon & Garfunkel (or vice-versa), but unlike other films that seem to be based on a popular song (whether that is the case or not), this is one that appeals to everyone from your casual movie watcher all the way up to the most hard-nosed, snooty critic out there. Truthfully, the only people who won’t like this are those that hate classic cinema, or are looking for more of a sex romp, as opposed to a classy dramedy. I highly recommend you check this out, as it is most definitely a must-see before dying!

4 1/3 out of 5 stars

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