Our next screenings at the Castle Cinema is 'THE GRADUATE' Thursday 21st November 18:45 and Sunday 24th November 14:30. Get tickets here Use discount code: cinereal
If ever a movie captured the audience’s imagination with its musical soundtrack, it was The Graduate, that irresistibly watchable 1967 classic, starring Anne Bancroft as the sexy and jaded fortysomething Mrs Robinson, who seduces 21-year-old Ben, played by the young Dustin Hoffman – that muddled young man whose sentimental education begins only after he graduates college.
Simon and Garfunkel’s eerie and sublime The Sound of Silence perfectly captures both Ben’s alienation and bewilderment about what he should do with his life, and then his postcoital disenchantment and self-loathing. And Here’s to You Mrs Robinson, with its gentle reassurance that Jesus loves her, provides a note of final gentleness and forgiveness for this character that is really nowhere in the script. It is, incidentally, very different from Billy Paul’s woozily sensual soul song Me and Mrs Jones, which came out four years later.
The Graduate itself does not seem the same in 2017 as it did in 1967. Then the emphasis was on sophisticated black comedy with a hint of 60s radicalism and student discontent – mediated through the older generation of suburbanites. It was a guy’s fantasy: Ben gets the older woman and his own Alfa Romeo (the “little red wop car” as his father’s friend charmlessly puts it).
Watched in the present day, the element of predatory abuse is inescapable. You cannot see it without wondering how it might look and feel if the sexual roles were reversed. But a modern audience might also, paradoxically, be much less content with the villainous role the film finally assigns to Mrs Robinson, be more sympathetic to her midlife crisis, and remember the pathos of her abandoned interest in art. Calder Willingham and Buck Henry’s screenplay, adapted from Charles Webb’s 1963 novel, cleverly allows you to wonder if Mr Robinson was, in some conscious or subconscious way, complaisant in his wife’s adventure. The excellence of Katherine Ross as Mrs Robinson’s daughter, Elaine, is often overlooked. A hugely pleasurable film.