14A, 105 minutes
Dustin Hoffman, Anne Bancroft, Katharine Ross
The Graduate was based on Charles Webb's novel of the same name from 1963. He wrote it after graduating from Williams College, basing certain characters on people within his family's circle. The story follows the protagonist, Ben (played by Dustin Hoffman in the film), during the period after he graduates college. While trying to figure out what he wants to do with his life – his parents pressuring him to attend a top-notch Grad school – Ben becomes involved with Mrs. Robinson, the wife of his father's colleague.
Webb has been asked repeatedly since he wrote the book about his own similarities to the characters and events depicted in the novel. Finally, he admitted the name of his real-life inspiration for Mrs. Robinson, though to this day he denies that they had a relationship. Read the article “The Real Life Parallels of The Graduate” here.
The film, adapted by Calder Willingham and Buck Henry and directed by Mike Nichols in 1967, is still considered one of the best films of all time (appearing on most canons) and one of the highest earning as well (considering inflation). It was nominated for 7 Academy Awards, winning for Best Director, including Best Picture, Actor, Actress, Supporting Actress and Adapted Screenplay. Only Nichols' second film (following Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf) and Dustin Hoffman's first major role, The Graduate features everyone involved at the top of their game. The casting process was long – Robert Redford was Nichols' first choice for Ben, and everyone from Ava Gardner to Doris Day and Joan Crawford was considered for the role of Mrs. Robinson – and ended up with actors of considerable age discrepancies from their characters. Age plays such an important role in the film, with the “middle-aged” Anne Bancroft playing the character with the strongest libido. Though in the film Mrs. Robinson claims to be twice Ben's age, Bancroft was in truth only six years older than baby-faced Hoffman at the time of shooting. The casting proved successful, for the film still garners praise 44 years later and continues to be one of the most-quoted of all time.