“The Graduate” A Coming of Age Movie, Like No Other!
American actor Dustin Hoffman looks down at the leg of actor Anne Bancroft, as Mrs. Robinson, in a still from director Mike Nichols's film, 'The Graduate.' (Photo by Embassy Pictures/Getty Images)
When Benjamin Braddock graduated from college, he knew he was no longer a boy, but he had no way of knowing what was about to happen that eventful summer. The Graduate is a romantic comedy and drama film starring Dustin Hoffman as Benjamin Braddock, a young college graduate, and Anne Bancroft as the scandalous and beautiful Mrs. Robinson.
Benjamin, although he had graduated, was still floundering as to what to do with the rest of his life. All eyes were on him as the guest of honor of his graduation party and of course, everyone wanted to know what his plans for the future were; a sore subject with Benjamin to say the very least. He was all but expected to go to graduate school and possibly follow in his father’s footsteps. His father was a successful attorney and wanted his son to make a name for himself.
The party was awkward for Benjamin. The last thing he wanted to do was to have to explain his decisions; or rather, lack thereof. To compound his anxiety, Benjamin found himself in the uncomfortable position of driving home, Mrs. Robinson, the intoxicated wife of his father’s law partner.
Mrs. Robinson felt alone in her marriage. She felt neglected by her husband and drank to drown her grief. On this particular evening, she insisted that Benjamin drive her home because she had overindulged at the party. Once alone with him, Mrs. Robinson shamelessly seduced Benjamin which started a whole sequence of events that would change his life forever.
After arriving at her home, Mrs. Robinson invited Benjamin to come in for a drink. She lured him up to her daughter, Elaine’s (Katharine Ross) room to see her portrait. He was caught off guard when she appeared in Elaine’s room naked. He was taken aback by her forwardness and refused her advances. A few days later, though, all bets were off.
Benjamin was ready to explore the possibilities with the older woman. He wasn’t in love with her, just curious and horny. He clumsily arranged a meeting with Mrs. Robinson at a hotel and she gladly accepted his invitation. They got off to an awkward start but in the end, the deed had been done.
Benjamin spent the rest of the summer floating around the pool, daydreaming about what had happened and what was to come. His parents had been encouraging him to take Elaine out, but Mrs. Robinson had strictly forbidden him from doing so. Not surprisingly, he ended up taking her out to please his parents. Eventually, he fell in love with her.
Bound and determined to stand between them, Mrs. Robinson threatened to tell Elaine about their tryst. After being tormented by her, Benjamin decided to tell her first. Her reaction was as much as he had expected. Elaine was devastated and didn’t want to see him anymore. Unbeknownst to Benjamin, Mrs. Robinson told Elaine that he had raped her.
Elaine picked up the pieces and moved on with her life. She went back to school and met a young man whom she planned to marry. Benjamin just couldn’t shake his feelings for Elaine and continued to pursue her; all the way up to her wedding day. Benjamin made it to the church just in time for the, “I Dos”, but still didn’t give up on his true love.
In the end, Elaine had softened and realized that she also loved Benjamin and she left her new husband standing at the altar. Don’t feel bad for him, though, because he was a dirty dog and had a string of other women. To her parents’ dismay, Elaine had run off with Benjamin to live happily ever after. The happily ever after that her mother never had.
When The Graduate came out in 1967, it was no doubt scandalous but also very racy for the time. Young men everywhere must have had trouble looking their friends’ mothers in the eye that summer.
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