I think Berke Breathed had it correct in one of his Bloom County strips in the mid 80s. Steve Dallas, the quintessentially sleazy lawyer, was meeting the parents of his current schmoopie. (Was it Lola Granola?) Her father took Steve aside, and said, “I have one word for you. Just one word.”
“Plastics?”, Steve replied.
“No. Handguns. Disposable handguns.”
Discussion will follow after I find some breakfast.
I just love the way the movie is set up. The opening credit sequence is great, with people walking past Ben as he stands there spacedly riding the flat escalator. The shot of the clown hanging on the wall in their house is also great. And the fake eyelashes… wait…
They actually changed the song from Mrs. Roosevelt to Mrs. Robinson. The song was written for the movie, as opposed to the movie reacting to the song.
I’m of two minds regarding this movie. I see Benjamin as a sympathetic character, and can identify with him to some extent. (“What are you going to do now?” “I was going to go upstairs for a minute.” “I meant with your future, your life.” “Well, that’s a little hard to say.”) Benjamin is a fresh-faced youth manipulated by Mrs Robinson. It might be too easy to play this as parallel to the late 60s and the feeling of disillusionment with the status quo - after all, I wasn’t even born yet - but to my untrained eye, the movie can be reduced to “Don’t trust anyone over 30”. It does the movie a disservice to judge it that way, but it did cross my mind.
My other point of view is that Mrs Robinson is the ideal character in the movie. She’s the only one who seems to know what she wants, and what she has to do to get it. Benjamin is clueless. His bumbling is amusing and endearing, but only to a point - I wanted to shake him and shout “Grow a spine!” Mrs Robinson, on the other hand, is fascinating as a character. (She could seduce me any time she wanted. Rowr.) Elaine is dull, Benjamin is boring and unambitious, and only Mrs Robinson carries the movie.
Part of the appeal of Mrs Robinson is her dangerous nature, but not in a stereotypical ‘bad girl’ way that your parents warned you about. Her predatory nature is obvious, but her fickle nature is there as well. Were in in Benjamin’s situation, I think that I wouldn’t discard Mrs Robinson, but rather that she would discard me as she became bored. I’d end up worrying about whether I’m keeping her amused and happy, and it’d be a self-fulfilling prophecy.
Anyway. Anne Bancroft can seduce me whenever she wants.
The thing that strikes me the most about watching this movie now is that Mrs. Robinson doesn’t seem that much older than Benjamin, nor is their age difference particularly shocking. I can’t imagine anyone watching this film and being scandalized by either the age difference or the fact that Mrs. Robinson initiates the affair. I remember my parents talking about this movie and getting the idea (I was never allowed to watch it as a child, natch) that Mrs. Robinson had practically drugged Benjamin to get him into bed with her, and then handcuffed him to get him to stay there.
I first saw it when I was in college, and I remember thinking how heroic Benjamin was by following Elaine to college, and then helping her escape from her wedding. Maybe not heroic, exactly, but at least positive because he finally takes action. Now, I confess I find that a little creepy, and the final shots of Elaine and Ben on the bus, not looking at each other, not looking happy, are just so sad.
I love the shots of Benjamin speeding along Highway 101 in his sports car to Elaine’s wedding. During the brief time I owned a sports car, I kept this image in mind as I drove too fast with the top down.
n.b. - we Californians are hip to the fact that Benjamin is going through the tunnels in Goleta in the wrong direction if he is driving from northern California to Santa Barbara.
This is my own point of view on the movie as well. Ben was a whiny loser, and he deserved to end up with drippy Elaine. He wasn’t good enough for the ultra-cool Mrs. Robinson. As I understand it, at the time the movie was released young people identified with Ben and saw Mrs. Robinson as the villainess, but I think the movie just shows how stupid and shallow young people can be sometimes.
I’d like to see a sequel to The Graduate all about Mrs. Robinson’s life after she and her husband get divorced – perhaps she could go back to art school.
The 1st time I saw the movie, I viewed this scene as a happy ending. In the times since, I’ve viewed the scene on the bus as almost identical to the opening scene of the movie, including the camera shot(Ben looking distant, confused, not sure where he’s going). For me it kind of sums up the theme. He finally took action, but there’s always another hurdle.
That’s why I said that Mrs. Robinson doesn’t seem that much older than Benjamin, as opposed to Anne Bancroft doesn’t seem that much older than Dustin Hoffman. Even though the movie tells us how old they are, the characters don’t look or act as if there is a huge age difference. Dustin Hoffman doesn’t seem (to me) convincing as a 21 year old, Benjamin seems more like someone who took 8 years to finish college. Of course, I am looking at this in 2001, so I was making more of a comment about how the way we view age has changed since the movie was made.
I can’t believe I’m the first one to get in here and clear this up. Steve Dallas never dated Lola Granola. Lola was Opus’s this-close-to-being-his-wife-had-he-not-passed-out.
As for The Graduate – you know I’ve only seen it all the way through once, and that was a few months ago, but I didn’t like it as much as I hoped I would. For one thing, the movie dates itself terribly. Not only with the set design and such, but with the flash cuts which were in like every movie produced in the late 60’s - early 70’s.
And having read a little about the movie and the script and what went into production before hand, I couldn’t buy Dustin Hoffman as Benjamin. It was always intended that Benjamin was a bratty California surfer type, until Dustin was cast. I almost wish they would have stuck with the character and re-cast.
Now that’s a lot for me to admit, because I’m a friggin’ push over. You’ll be hard pressed to find a film I really hate. I seemingly like everything.
The flash cuts, especially during the ‘love’ scene, caused me to think that I was really watching Fight Club …
And yes, Opus passed out at the altar and had nightmares of three dozen kids and snorting cocaine at the local bar before waking up and passing on Lola. (Plus, god help me, he looked like a mushroom.) I could have sworn, though, that Steve pursued her at one point … I’ll have to dig out my Classics of Western Literature tonight and check to be sure.
I agree that a tall blonde surfer type would have better suited the perception, but Hoffman’s anxiety and nervousness was enough to make me believe him in the role. I still considered him a spineless weasel, but he pulled it off, at least.
Just re-saw this a few weeks ago. The version I rented had a “making of” bit and an interview with Hoffman - worth a look.
Today it’s hard to believe that a college graduate could be as naive and clueless as Ben. I agree he’s too spineless to be a really good character. Some of the scenes are priceless, though; eg the scuba-suit sequence. The way we see Ben’s family through the tunnel-vision of the scuba mask and can’t hear a word being said perfectly evokes Ben’s mental state.
…but might I recommend that you include a link to the very first week’s thread, in each subsequent thread? I missed out on the beginning of this thing, and had to click through six pages before I finally figured out what was going on.
Just a suggestion! (Is it too late for me to join in, btw?)