The Graduate - Mike Nichols (1967)

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Anne Bancroft (Mrs. Robinson)

In addition to be one of the most famous and most viewed movie of all time, The Graduate is also one of the finest examples of fusion and mutual emphasis between images and music. The soundtrack, as everyone knows, was in fact carried out by the director Mike Nichols mainly to Simon & Garfunkel, just at a time when their popularity and their peculiar style was increasing. S & G and the director did nothing more than select and strategically place some of the songs just recorded and proposed by the duo, adding only an original composition that would become a classic and one of their biggest hits.


Mrs. Robinson and Benjamin

Synchronicity between music and images is indeed so perfect that it seems that the script has been designed having in mind the music, as if it were an illustration of it, but it is not so. Probably the effect comes from the cultural and social closeness that inspired both S & G and the authors of the movie. Cross-references between songs of S&G that will become immortal and moments of the film are many. Those that remain in memory are the titles with the protagonist in the crowd, in the airport of Los Angeles, accompanied by The Sound Of Silence, Dustin Hoffman and his Alfa Romeo Duetto on the highways accompanied by the rapid pace of Mrs. Robinson, the love that grows between Dustin Hoffman and Katharine Ross accompanied by the sweet tune of Scarborough Fair.


Elaine in the strip-tease club

The plot is well-known and tells of a young just "graduate" who returns to his middle-class Californian family and gets involved, almost in spite of himself, in a love affair with the wife of a partner of his father, of course, much older than him. Inevitable, despite the prohibitions of the mother, the encounter with her ​​daughter (who obviously he knew since he was a child) and the birth of a new love between the two boys. A thwarted love in all ways, and for which the young man will fighting with all his might, until the final scene of the raid n the church and the "kidnapping" of Katharine Ross directly from the altar.


The Alfa Duetto on the streets of  California

More difficult to understand why this story of thwarted love has become, besides a huge success (it is among the top 10 films of all time) the movie myth of 1968, in all Western countries, and in Italy in particular. Periodically repeated in arthouse cinemas from 1968 onwards, it has been watched countless times by that generation. Bearing in mind the 1967, the year of release, however, we find in this movie the adult world clearly separated and opposed to that of the young, and totally negative and unable to transmit any value other than the cynicism and denial of ethics. And we can find the young generation determined and confident in finding their own original way, quite apart from any other teaching and experience of previous generations.


The escape

And moreover the adult world as a temptation that corrupts you and pulls you down (the negative character of Anne Bancroft). Only a year after the leader of the '68 Berkeley Jerry Rubin will come out with his invective "'Never trust anyone over 30". But above all the strongest and lasting  seducing thing was the Alfa Romeo Duetto and the races of the protagonist on the highways of California. Finally the rebels of '68 had a clear objective for which they fought: a world of freedom in which freely chase their dreams and needs, but without giving up the good things in life that the gold age after the war had brought. At least, this was the objectives of the hedonist 'part of that "rebels", clearly separated from those that would soon be fascinated by the ideals of renunciation, blind obedience and sacrifice for the cause.

 

The Characters and The Cast

 


A new life together. Problems? Tomorrow

The cast that now seems absolutely perfect and with a total identification between actors and characters, is instead the result (as in many other cases) of a series of variations. Particularly at the beginning Nichols, probably for a higher uptake of the novel on which the film is based, had thought of actors typically American in appearance, and therefore more consistent with the roles of upper-middle class that had to interpret. In particular, Benjamin had to be Robert Redford, Elaine Candice Bergen and Mrs. Robinson a reluctant Doris Day. Taking the appropriate risks the director has instead focused the choice on a more Mediterranean and almost rookie Hoffman and to Anne Bancroft, a formidable actress, who would create a character remained indelibly in the collective memory.

Character

Actor/Actress

Notes

Benjamin Braddock 

Dustin Hoffman

The first important role for those who would later become one of the most famous and popular Hollywood actor ever. Perfect in acting and role. His physical appearance, very different from the classic young actor in Hollywood, gave sincerity and authenticity to the film.

Mrs. Robinson

Anne Bancroft

A professional actress of classical style, the wife of Mel Brooks has created with this film an absolutely amoral character, which will remain legendary.

Elaine Robinson

Katharine Ross 

The young grandson of Katherine Hepburn began with this film her short season as successful actress, culminated few years later with the interpretation of the schoolteacher Etta Place in the late western (and very successful) Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, also famous for the beautiful soundtrack by Burt Bacharach. that included the evergreen Raindrops Keep Fallin 'On My Head.

Alfa Romeo Duetto

As herself

Key character N. 4 in the film, her red and elusive figure is essential to describe the character of Dustin Hoffman and his goal of living a free and unconventional life. Designed by Pininfarina as the heir of the classic Giulietta Spider, and developed on the shortened platform of the Giulia model, this car introduced an innovative design, not appreciated by everyone, in particolura, the development of the lenticular side). The name, which is also not appreciated by all, had been chosen by a competition between the readers of the Italian car magazine Quattroruote. (1)

Carl Smith

Brian Avery 

The boyfriend and future husband of Elaine, a classic American guy who should be the model of the classic American guy. However, he will be left on the altar.

Mr. Robinson

Murray Hamilton

Elaine's father and husband of the Anne, aka Mrs. Robinson. Another metaphor of a typical bourgeois for whom everything is acceptable as long as it remains within the conventions.

Mr. Braddock

William Daniels

The father of Benjamin and Mr. Robinson's partner in business. A character who welcomes uncritical and self pleased about the results achieved in his life, i.e. success and full adherence to the American way of life. A result of even greater satisfaction taking into account that, he doesn't looks like a classic WASP (White Anglo-Saxon Protestant).

 

Soundtrack

 

Mike Nichols had the opportunity to hear Parsley, Sage, Rosemary & Thyme, the third album (1966) and the first great success of Simon & Garfunkel, and had the intuition to utilize their music for the soundtrack of the film. It seems that Simon was at first perplexed by the story, but then they decided to accept. In practice, they simply choose four songs together, two and two from the album mentioned above The Sounds Of Silence (also published in 1966), the title track and the song "April How She Will". They added "only" an original song written for the film, but it was the future classic Mrs. Robinson. At the beginning it was an instrumental piece, then they were added the lyrics, inspired by the film. On the soundtrack, indeed, the song is still sketchy and incomplete, it will be completed and published only after the film's release, but it will be an instant success, reaching the first position in both the U.S. and, later, UK charts.

The score was then completed with few original pieces written by the specialist Dave Grusin, in the followings years very famous as a musician of "fusion" genre.

Title

Author(s)

Interpreters

Album

The Sound of Silence

Paul Simon

Simon and Garfunkel

The Sounds Of Silence

April Come She Will

Paul Simon

Simon and Garfunkel

The Sounds Of Silence

Scarborough Fair/Canticle

Paul Simon and Art Garfunkel

Simon and Garfunkel

Parsley, Sage, Rosemary & Thyme

Mrs. Robinson

Paul Simon

Simon and Garfunkel

 

The Singleman Party Foxtrot

Dave Grusin

 

 

Sunporch Cha-Cha-Cha

Dave Grusin

 

 

On the Strip

Dave Grusin

 

 

The Folks

Dave Grusin

  

  

A Great Effect

Dave Grusin

  

  

The Big Bright Green Pleasure Machine

Paul Simon

Simon and Garfunkel

Parsley, Sage, Rosemary & Thyme

Whew

Dave Grusin

 

 

  

Images from the film

We have selected a series of images from this film, to remember the story and, maybe, to suggest the idea to view him again, or for the first time, if you are young. No, it doesn't seem an old movie, even the characters wear as of today. This is the link.

 

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  Alberto Truffi 2006 - Music Graffiti

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