The Graduate (1967) - Rotten Tomatoes

The Graduate (1967)

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Critic 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.

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"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

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Cast

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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News & Interviews for The Graduate

Critic Reviews for The Graduate

All Critics (72) | Top Critics (15)

Feels as sly, modern and bracing as it must have in 1967.

June 19, 2017 | Rating: 5/5 | Full Review…

As it stands, the vacuum of that warped, moneyed Los Angeles society is too exaggerated, too incredible. But one can't help but believe in Hoffman if not in the disjointed character he portrays.

March 10, 2015 | Rating: 3.5/4 | Full Review…

Be agog at Anne Bancroft's Mrs. Robinson in some of the most hilariously icky seduction scenes ever filmed. See Mike Nichols (with help from Simon & Garfunkel) take control of the Zeitgeist. See the mood go dark -- darker than you remember.

March 10, 2015 | Full Review…

The Graduate gives some substance to the contention that American films are coming of age -- of our age.

November 24, 2014 | Full Review…

The remarkably true ring of Webb's dialogue is preserved and augmented, the visual potential lifted to next power in absurdity.

November 20, 2014 | Full Review…

The emotional elevation of the film is due in no small measure to the extraordinarily engaging performances of Anne Bancroft as the wife-mother-mistress, Dustin Hoffman as the lumbering Lancelot, and Katherine Ross as his fair Elaine.

January 14, 2013 | Full Review…

Audience Reviews for The Graduate

A personal fav since it debuted, when all I liked was the moody music and couldn't understand what it was about excepting that a sense of loss permeated the work (but NOW I get it - because I grew up with it - and it'll always be a personal fav). Whatever may be wrong with the world, Benjamin decides that its better to face it with someone rather than face it alone.

Kevin M. Williams
Kevin M. Williams

Super Reviewer

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 Bernabe
Eugene Bernabe

Super Reviewer

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 Mirliani
Matthew Samuel Mirliani

Super Reviewer

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