The Graduate Screen 78 of 8 reviews

The Graduate

1967

The Graduate Poster
  • The year 1967 was significant in cinema history, and if you’re trying to make sense of why, you don’t have to look much further than Mike Nichols’ The Graduate. It is a film which appears at a great turning point in Hollywood film history, at the moments of transition between one era tied to the strictures of classical storytelling and codes self-imposed censorship, and the beginning of a new American perspective on film influenced by artistic innovations from the cinema of Europe.

  • The Graduate might seem to belong to another age. But in truth it straddles both the old and the new. It survives not just as a peerless Hollywood entertainment but as a one-of-a-kind cinematic portrait of America when it, like Benjamin Braddock at the edge of his parents’ swimming pool, teetered on the brink.

  • Nichols had made only one previous feature, Who’s Afraid Of Virginia Woolf?, a deliberately claustrophobic chamber piece. Here, he shoots widescreen compositions that use the entire width of the frame to striking effect, and alternates between lengthy choreographed shots and jarring cuts... His use of Simon & Garfunkel’s music was equally revolutionary—movies had employed pop songs before, but never by combining one artist’s back catalogue with original material composed expressly for the film.

  • The Graduate completely fails its female characters since their esteem is always filtered through Ben's perspective, but in a way that naturalizes, rather than draws attention to, that representational relationship.

  • This undeniable crowd-pleaser never digs particularly deep—something especially evident in the treatment of its most iconic character. As conceived, Mrs. Robinson is pure cougar caricature, all bra-strap tan lines, predatory poses and garish wardrobe—yet Bancroft makes her into a robustly tragic figure, a shattered woman saddled with a life she never wanted and all too aware of her fading bloom.

  • The Graduate, [Nichols'] second feature (his first was Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? in ‘66) was entertaining, but hardly the rallying cry of a rebellious youth explosion that some claimed it to be once it took off at the box office... Even now, when new prints of the movie struck from the original internegative are being released, the only “revolutionary aspect” of The Graduate described in the press book is the use and impact of the Simon and Garfunkel songs...

  • Nichols is at his best in getting new reading out of old lines and thus lightening potential heavy scenes. The director is at his worst when the eclecticism of the visual style gets out of hand... [Still,] "The Graduate" is moving precisely because its hero passes from premature maturity to an innocence regained, an idealism reconfirmed.

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    Artforum: Manny Farber + Patricia Patterson
    March 1968 | Farber on Film (pp. 599-602)

    Besides being a brazen movie with a built-in sneer, particularly for the older denizens of Coin Flats, Beverly Hills, The Graduate is another in a series of Sandwich Specials... In Mike Nichols's film, there is a studied effort to make everyone exotic and nutty, like walking fish tanks.

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