If you wanted a Reader’s Digest version of how the youth of the 1960s felt then director Mike Nichols’ (The Birdcage, Working Girl) film “The Graduate” is the way to go. During this decade the ‘youth’ of the day were feeling alienated, not listened to and angry at anyone seen as the ‘man’, so they often turned towards radical methods of protest and went out of their ways not to conform to the norms.
The film turned this whole distance between the generations on its head by featuring a romance between a younger man and an older woman. Everything about this funny film is concerned with making light of the social mores of the time. Very tongue-in-cheek!
The script is brilliant with its often witty and sometimes quirky dialogue delivered perfectly by a young Dustin Hoffman and a beautiful Anne Bancroft. It truly was a breakout performance by Hoffman and Bancroft seemed to really understand the boredom of the upper-middle class housewife. The humour of the situation is in perfect juxtaposition with the haunting score by Simon and Garfunkel. What can be said about director Mike Nichols? He won a well-deserved Best Director Oscar for his efforts. Depicting the various nuances of the human condition is his forte as a director and he really demonstrates his deft touch with this film.
Benjamin Braddock (Dustin Hoffman – Rainman, Stranger Than Fiction) returns from college for the summer without a clue about what he is going to do with his future. He is a quiet and socially awkward young man with plenty on his mind. He is slightly distracted to say the least after he meets the wife of his father’s (William Daniels – Blades of Glory, Reds) business partner (Murray Hamilton – Brubaker, The Amityville Horror – 1979), Mrs. Robinson (Anne Bancroft – G.I. Jane, Agnes of God), and she seduces him then they embark on torrid affair.
This affair just proves to muddle Benjamin’s mind all the more as he is filled with ennui due to his upper-middle class life. To make matters even more confusing, Benjamin then meets the girl of his dreams, Elaine (Katherine Ross – Donnie Darko, The Swarm). Sounds good, right? But when Benjamin finds out she is Mrs. Robinson’s daughter that is when the fun really begins.
- Trailer – original U.S. trailer for The Graduate. In English, not subtitled. (4 min, 1080p).
- Dustin Hoffman – in this brand new video interview, actor Dustin Hoffman recalls how he became involved withThe Graduate and explains how the film profoundly changed his life. The interview was conducted exclusively for Criterion in 2015. In English, not subtitled. (38 min, 1080p).
- Buck Henry and Lawrence Turman – in this brand new filmed conversation, screenwriter Buck Henry and producer Lawrence Turman recall how a decision was made to adapt Charles Webb’s novel, and discuss Mike Nichols’ film and some of the first critical responses it generated, its success, the political overtones in the film, cinematographer Robert Surtees’ unique framing choices, etc. The conversation was filmed exclusively for Criterion in Los Angeles in 2015. In English, not subtitled. (25 min, 1080p).
- Commentary One – in this archival audio commentary, directors Mike Nichols and Steven Soderbergh discuss the rather unusual history of The Graduate (which initially was supposed to be Mike Nichols’ first film but he ended up directing Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?), the film’s visual style and specifically the use of long takes and scenes that are staged in single shots, Anne Bancroft’s transformation as Mrs. Robinson, Dustin Hoffman’s remarkably ability to act and look genuinely nervous, the three key components that define the film’s atmosphere (glass, plastic, and water) and its surrealist overtones, the hand-held footage which was quite unusual for the era, etc. The audio commentary was recorded in 2007.
- Commentary Two – in this archival audio commentary, renowned film UCLA film scholar Howard Suber discusses in great detail the various dilemmas Dustin Hoffman’s Ben Braddock faces in The Graduate, the key relationships in the film, the structure of the narrative and the film’s visual style. The commentary was recorded in 1987.
- Screen Tests – presented here are archival screen tests featuring actors who auditioned for the roles of Ben Braddock and Elaine Robbinson. In English, not subtitled. (14 min, 1080p).
1. Tony Bill and Jennifer Leak
2. Robert Lipton and Cathy Carpenter
3. Dustin Hoffman and Katharine Ross
- Paul Simon and Dick Cavett – presented here is an archival episode of The Dick Cavett Show in which singer-songwriter Paul Simon recalls how he became involved with The Graduate and discusses the music that is used in the film. In English, not subtitled. (6 min, 1080i).
- Mike Nichols and Barbara Walters – in this video interview, director Mike Nichols discusses his reactions to film criticism (and specifically to positive reviews of his films), his directing methods, the perks of success, his relationship with Elaine May (A New Leaf), his family’s history, etc. The interview, which was conducted by Barbara Walters, aired on NBC’s Today show on July 29, 1966. In English, not subtitled. (16 min, 1080p).
- “The Graduate” at 25 – in this archival featurette, Dustin Hoffman, Katharine Ross, producer Lawrence Turman, and screen writer Buck Henry recall their involvement with The Graduate, how the film changed their careers and lives, etc. The featurette was produced in 1992 for the twenty-fifth anniversary of the film. In English, not subtitled. (23 min, 1080i).
- Students of “The Graduate” – this documentary film focuses on the tremendous success and cultural significance of The Graduate and the career of its creator, Mike Nichols. Included in it are clips from interviews with directors Harold Raims (Groundhog Day), Marc Foster (Stranger Than Fiction), Valerie Faris and Jonathan Dayton (Little Miss Sunshine), and David O. Russell (American Hustle), film professor Bruce Block, producer Lawrence Turman, and screenwriter Buck Henry, amongst others. The documentary was produced in 2007. In English, not subtitled. (26 min, 1080i).
- Sam and Mike – in this featurette, film writer and historian Bobbie O’Steen discusses the legacy of her late husband, the legendary Hollywood editor Sam O’Steen, and his professional relationship with Mike Nichols. In addition to The Graduate, Sam O’Steen’s credits include such classic films as Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf, Cool Hand Luke, Rosemary’s Baby, Chinatown, and Working Girl. In English, not subtitled. (27 min, 1080p).
- Leaflet – an illustrated leaflet featuring an essay by journalist and critic Frank Rich.