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The Graduate

The Graduate is a novel by Charles Webb, made into a 1967 film of the same name directed by Mike Nichols from a screenplay by Calder Willingham and Buck Henry. more...

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Benjamin Braddock (played by Dustin Hoffman in the film), a recent college graduate with no well-defined aim in life, is seduced by Mrs. Robinson (Anne Bancroft) and then falls in love with her daughter Elaine (Katharine Ross).

The Graduate was the breakthrough role for Hoffman, whose sole previous film role was in The Tiger Makes Out (1967). The thirty-year-old also earned an Oscar nomination for his efforts.

The film also boosted the profile of folk-rock duo Simon and Garfunkel, whose soundtrack album, on the strength of the hit single "Mrs. Robinson," rose to the top of the charts in 1968 (beating out The Beatles' White Album).

Some scenes and themes in the film have become deeply embedded in the popular consciousness, even decades after its release, and have been widely parodied. One such scene involves the one-word career advice given to Benjamin by a family friend; "Plastics", offered as a self-explanatory key to a certain life of corporate success.

In the late 1990s the project was revived as a play and appeared in London and Broadway, as well as touring companies, starring such names as Kathleen Turner, Alicia Silverstone and Morgan Fairchild.


The film explores the life of Benjamin Braddock shortly after earning his bachelor's degree from an unnamed university, presumably Williams College. The movie starts at a party celebrating his graduation at his parents' house in suburban Los Angeles. Benjamin is visibly uncomfortable at the party attended by mostly his parents' friends. One family friend, Mrs. Robinson, asks Benjamin to drive her home, which he reluctantly does.

Arriving at her home, she asks him to come inside. Once inside, she exposes herself to him and offers to have an affair with him. Initially flustered, he flees. A few days later he calls her and their affair begins.

Benjamin is clearly uncomfortable with sexuality, but he is drawn into the affair with the older, but still attractive, Mrs. Robinson. Their affair appears to last most of the summer.

Meanwhile Benjamin is hounded by his father to select a graduate school to attend. Benjamin, clearly not interested in pursuing his studies, shrugs off his father's wishes and spends his time lounging and with Mrs. Robinson. His affair may serve as an escape from his lack of direction or ambition.

Mr. Robinson, unaware of his wife's budding affair, encourages Benjamin to call his daughter, Elaine. Benjamin's parents also repeatedly encourage him to date her. During one liaison, Mrs. Robinson extracts a promise from Ben to never date Elaine. Sensing that getting involved with the daughter of his lover could be disastrous, he tries to avoid it. However, because of the three parents' persistent intervention, he is essentially forced to date her. Therefore, he tries to ensure his date with her will be a disaster so she would not want to pursue a relationship with him. He takes Elaine to a strip club where she is openly offended and silently begins to cry.


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