I saw The Graduate for the fourth, or fifth time Sunday morning. Not exactly keeping count. When I was killing time and waiting to meet a friend that I got together very early with on Sunday. My friend and I had this little minor debate going on whether, or not Anne Bancroft, who I think is the star of this movie, whether she is overrated in this movie. This movie, is Ann Bancroft’s defining role. She is known as Mrs. Robinson and for very good reasons. Because she played a beautiful, sexy, very cute, witty, intelligent, seductress who knew exactly what she wanted and what she didn’t want. And how to get what she wanted and stop what she didn’t want.
My friend and I, off an on, the last couple of weeks, have been discussing whether Anne is overrated physically, or not. I agree with my friend, that she’s not the best looking women of the 1960s, or from her generation lets say. But I haven’t heard anyone suggest that she is. But she was a very cute, beautiful, sexy women and a hell of an actress and her role and how she played it, is critical to this movie. It’s the Dustin Hoffman character, not the actor, but Ben Braddock, who I’m not impressed with. He’s just graduated from college with a college degree. And has no idea what the hell he wants to do with his life. He sort of has the personality of a hit man. Someone who speaks in very short if not one word sentences. Who prefers to be by himself, someone what emotionally distant and doesn’t show much if any emotion.
And that is pretty much what makes The Graduate work. A beautiful sexy cute witty intelligent women, in Mrs. Robinson, who is not happy with her marriage and perhaps life in general. Who uses Ben Braddock, who is lost and doesn’t know where he’s going, to fill whatever void that she has with her husband. Which is physical attraction, attention, sex, the feeling that she’s still beautiful and sexy. Which of course she is, but perhaps her husband, played by Murray Hamilton, has lost something perhaps downstairs and up. But the thing is, the people around Ben, his family actually do care about him and want him to be happy and they along with Mr. Robinson, set up Ben with the Robinson’s daughter. Elaine Robinson, played by the beautiful and adorable Katharine Ross.
That is pretty much how this movie goes. Mrs. Robinson, doesn’t want Ben to date her daughter. She wants Ben as his sex partner and doesn’t believe Ben is good enough for his daughter. But the date goes on anyway and Ben at first tries to comply with Mrs. Robinson and intentionally makes the date horrible for Elaine and is distant the whole time and takes her to a strip club even. Great way to lose a date if that is your goal, but discovers that he’s been a real asshole, to be blunt about it. And that he’s really hurt Elaine who didn’t deserve it. And tries to make it up to her and they have a really good date after that.
Again, Mrs. Robinson, doesn’t want Ben with her daughter. To the point that she tells her about the actual affair that she had with Ben. And even goes to far and tells Elaine, that Ben raped her. Which of course didn’t happen. And Elaine dumps him and goes away for graduate school and Ben spends the rest of the movie trying to win her back. The first forty-five minutes of this movie, are very good and very funny. Mrs. Robinson, tries to seduce Ben two times and swings and misses. Ben, probably feeling way to guilty to take her up on her very generous offer. The third pitch, is thrown by Ben this time and he offers himself to her and invites her to a hotel. This is a great movie about people who aren’t very happy with themselves. And don’t know where they’re going until they get there.