Guaranteed To Leave You In A Cheerful Mood
See this for Anne Bancroft, a brilliant and underrated
actress in one of her most memorable roles.
by Mike Nicholls and with Anne Bancroft / Dustin Hoffman
Few films have defined a generation as much as The
Graduate did. The alienation, the nonconformity, the intergenerational
romance, the blissful Simon and Garfunkel soundtrack - they all served to
lob a cultural grenade smack into the middle of 1967 America, ultimately
making the film the third most profitable up to that time. Even seen from a
later perspective, it's still a joy
to see Dustin Hoffman's bemused Benjamin and Anne Bancroft's deliciously
decadent, sardonic Mrs Robinson. Mike Nichols, who won an
Oscar for his direction, has just the right, light touch.
This is one
of the defining films of my generation, and of course I saw it when it
came out in 1967. Seeing it again after all these years I was struck by
both how funny it is and by the brittle, cynical and brilliant performance
by Anne Bancroft as Mrs. Robinson. She really is flawless in a part that
might easily lend itself to overacting. Instead she is subtle, controlled,
focused, and authentic in a way that is both sexy and chilling with just a
hint of ironic humor. The maternal manner with which she treats virginal
Benjamin Braddock emphasizes the
creepy, almost incestuous nature of their sterile affair.
Dustin Hoffman's confused and drifting Benjamin, worried about his
future and suffocated by his parents' generation, knocked everybody out in
those days with his dead-panned, literal delivery of one-liners, some of
which were written by Buck Henry, who plays the desk clerk at the
rendezvous hotel. I especially loved Ben's answer when his father,
enquiring about his Quixotic plan to marry Mrs. Robinson's daughter Elaine
(Katharine Ross), asks, "Isn't this a half-baked idea?" In dead
seriousness, Benjamin says, "No, sir. It's completely baked."
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