The Graduate

Critics Consensus

The music, the performances, the precision in capturing the post-college malaise -- The Graduate's coming-of-age story is indeed one for the ages.



Total Count: 77


Audience Score

User Ratings: 183,473
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Movie Info

"One word: plastics." "Are you here for an affair?" These lines and others became cultural touchstones, as 1960s youth rebellion seeped into the California upper middle-class in Mike Nichols' landmark hit. Mentally adrift the summer after graduating from college, suburbanite Benjamin Braddock (Dustin Hoffman) would rather float in his parents' pool than follow adult advice about his future. But the exhortation of family friend Mr. Robinson (Murray Hamilton) to seize every possible opportunity inspires Ben to accept an offer of sex from icily feline Mrs. Robinson (Anne Bancroft). The affair and the pool are all well and good until Ben is pushed to go out with the Robinsons' daughter Elaine (Katharine Ross) and he falls in love with her. Mrs. Robinson sabotages the relationship and an understandably disgusted Elaine runs back to college. Determined not to let Elaine get away, Ben follows her to school and then disrupts her family-sanctioned wedding. None too happy about her pre-determined destiny, Elaine flees with Ben -- but to what? Directing his second feature film after Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, Nichols matched the story's satire of suffocating middle-class shallowness with an anti-Hollywood style influenced by the then-voguish French New Wave. Using odd angles, jittery editing, and evocative widescreen photography, Nichols welded a hip New Wave style and a generation-gap theme to a fairly traditional screwball comedy script by Buck Henry and Calder Willingham from Charles Webb's novel. Adding to the European art film sensibility, the movie offers an unsettling and ambiguous ending with no firm closure. And rather than Robert Redford, Nichols opted for a less glamorous unknown for the pivotal role of Ben, turning Hoffman into a star and opening the door for unconventional leading men throughout the 1970s. With a pop-song score written by Paul Simon and performed by Simon & Garfunkel bolstering its contemporary appeal, The Graduate opened to rave reviews in December 1967 and surpassed all commercial expectations. It became the top-grossing film of 1968 and was nominated for seven Oscars, including Best Picture, Actor, and Actress, with Nichols winning Best Director. Together with Bonnie and Clyde, it stands as one of the most influential films of the late '60s, as its mordant dissection of the generation gap helped lead the way to the youth-oriented Hollywood artistic "renaissance" of the early '70s. ~ Lucia Bozzola, Rovi


Dustin Hoffman
as Benjamin Braddock
Anne Bancroft
as Mrs. Robinson
Katharine Ross
as Elaine Robinson
William Daniels
as Mr. Braddock
Murray Hamilton
as Mr. Robinson
Elizabeth Wilson
as Mrs. Braddock
Norman Fell
as McCleery
Buck Henry
as Room Clerk
Walter Brooke
as Mr. Maguire
Alice Ghostley
as Mrs. Singleman
Marion Lorne
as Miss DeWitt
Lainie Miller
as Nightclub Stripper
Eddra Gale
as Woman on Bus
Richard Dreyfuss
as Berkeley Student
Jonathan Hole
as Mr. DeWitt
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Critic Reviews for The Graduate

All Critics (77) | Top Critics (18) | Fresh (68) | Rotten (9)

Audience Reviews for The Graduate

  • Mar 23, 2016
    The Graduate is one of those films that is both dated and timeless at the same time. It was written for the rebellious teens and college students of the time, but still has a lot of universal forces driving the plot. Ben is our anti-hero who is the tortured soul that has no idea how to live his life. All he knows is that he is constantly under the thumb of his parents and their friends. His affair with Mrs. Robinson, his eloping with Elaine, and the way he spends his spare time all revolve around a deep need to satisfy them. Him and Mrs. Robinson make the movie stand out, as they are easily character staples in cinema while the other characters aren't nearly as developed. Just goes to show that you don't have to have a star-studded involved cast to make a pertinent film. A personal theory I have about The Graduate is that Mrs. Robinson's affair with Ben was her way of keeping him from marrying Elaine, in her insane drive to be over protective. She nearly succeeds until they run from the church away from her. There is much debate about the ending of the film, the long bus ride with the altering faces and the Simon and Garfunkel pop song "Sound of Silence". Think of it this way, these two newly grads have never lived a life outside their family, and now they are at a state where they can't come back to them. A dark aspect to this coming of age tale, but it takes a turn to discuss the destruction of the family structure long before it was the norm to do so. It's hard to find anything wrong with a film that does so well at a subtle pushing of the envelope as this one does.
    Jackson W Super Reviewer
  • Feb 11, 2015
    Dustin Hoffman's charming performance propels this film into one of the best coming-of-age films of all time. The Graduate is highlighted with an artful direction, innocent humor, spellbinding music (soundtrack by Simon & Garfunkel) and an accurate strike on reality. 4/5
    Eugene B Super Reviewer
  • Aug 01, 2014
    You can't get more iconic than this. The Graduate is flawlessly written, deftly acted, and superbly touches us with its unconventionality and ultimate power. It captures the era of the 60s, yet is also profoundly timely. Hoffman's angst is relatable for every young adult watching the film, and the nostalgia and shallowness of American suburbia is also quite relatable to anyone who has spent at least a year living in the suburbs. Anne Bancroft is exceptional and ruthless as Mrs. Robinson, making for an unforgettable performance. The film's aura--the iconic soundtrack and iconic cinematographic choices--is captivating. Ultimately The Graduate is more than a funny, nostalgic movie: it is triumphant. It is a triumph of the human mind and the human spirit.
    Matthew Samuel M Super Reviewer
  • Apr 01, 2013
    The film's brilliantly crafted and I must say well-acted but I am not a fan of the story itself. By the way, I loved the Simon and Garfunkel music.
    Maymay A Super Reviewer

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