800 The Graduate

Discuss DVDs and Blu-rays released by Criterion and the films on them. If it's got a spine number, it's in here. Threads may contain spoilers.
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hearthesilence
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800 The Graduate

#1 Post by hearthesilence » Thu Jun 09, 2005 4:54 pm

The Graduate

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One of the most beloved American films of all time, The Graduate earned Mike Nichols a best director Oscar, brought the music of Simon & Garfunkel to a wider audience, and introduced the world to a young actor named Dustin Hoffman. Benjamin Braddock (Hoffman) has just finished college and is already lost in a sea of confusion and barely contained angst when he becomes sexually involved with the middle-aged mother (Anne Bancroft) of the young woman he's dating (Katharine Ross). Visually imaginative and impeccably acted, with a clever, endlessly quotable script by Buck Henry (based on the novel by Charles Webb), The Graduate had the kind of cultural impact that comes along only once in a generation.

SPECIAL FEATURES

• New 4K digital restoration, with uncompressed monaural soundtrack on the Blu-ray
• Optional 5.1 surround remix, approved by director Mike Nichols, presented in DTS-HD Master Audio on the Blu-ray
• Audio commentary from 2007 featuring Nichols in conversation with filmmaker Steven Soderbergh
• Audio commentary from 1987 featuring film scholar Howard Suber
• New interview with actor Dustin Hoffman
• New conversation between producer Lawrence Turman and actor-screenwriter Buck Henry
• New interview with film writer and historian Bobbie O'Steen about editor Sam O'Steen’s work on The Graduate
Students of "The Graduate," a short documentary from 2007 on the film's influence
"The Graduate" at 25, a 1992 featurette on the making of the film
• Interview with Nichols by Barbara Walters, from a 1966 episode of NBC's Today show
• Excerpt from a 1970 appearance by singer-songwriter Paul Simon on The Dick Cavett Show
• Screen tests
• Trailer
• PLUS: An essay by journalist and critic Frank Rich

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Simon
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#2 Post by Simon » Fri Jun 17, 2005 10:58 pm

hearthesilence wrote:How is the Graduate on DVD? Amazon.com lists a 2004 Special Edition release, supposedly single-layer, widescreen, but it doesn't say if it's anamorphic.

BTW, here's an excerpt from a Salon.com article that I thought was kind of a nice bit on Bancroft's work in the picture:

Although she loved the script immediately, she was discouraged from taking the part of Mrs. Robinson by nearly everyone, because it was, they thought, beneath her. But the naysayers didn't succeed in convincing Bancroft that she shouldn't play Mrs. Robinson (as she told Charlie Rose, "Besides, there was nobody else who could play that part like I did"), and a legendary character was born.

It is at the graduation party thrown for Benjamin Braddock (Dustin Hoffman) by his Beverly Hills socialite parents that the camera lights upon Mrs. Robinson for the first time. While the Braddocks' friends swarm around Ben, telling him, and each other, how "proud, proud, proud, proud, proud, proud, proud" they are of the track star, Mrs. Robinson sits alone, with a cigarette, watching like a leopard in wait. When Benjamin breaks, heading for his room, she goes in for the kill, but in a slow, methodical way -- staying one step ahead of him at each turn in their conversation, cutting him off before he can say no (and ignoring him when he does) and eventually luring him into her lair.

It would have been easy for Mrs. Robinson to come off as a one-dimensional seductress, leaving Benjamin with no alternative but to play the part of the victim -- a horny victim, but a victim nonetheless. Instead, Bancroft brings to her character a life not explicitly spelled out in the script -- and, in so doing, extends that multidimensionality to every other major character in the film.

In the end, the notorious Mrs. Robinson was, Bancroft told Rose, misunderstood: "She was not understood by herself, and she was also not understood by the society around her. I think she had dreams, and the dreams could not be fulfilled because of things that had happened. And so she spent a very conventional life, with this conventional man, in a conventional house. ... And meantime, all the dreams that she had had for herself, and the talent -- she probably was a gifted artist ... I thought that she was -- and none of that could happen anymore." In the film, Bancroft communicates this message, in its entirety, in the span of less than a minute. Mrs. Robinson and Benjamin are in bed, and Ben asks her what her college major was. With her back to him, she says one word -- "art" -- but a look of sadness and vulnerability washes over her face.

"I guess you kinda lost interest in it over the years then," Ben says.

"Kind of," she replies.

As is so often the case in "The Graduate," Bancroft communicates more in saying nothing at all than most actors could say with an entire monologue. That one scene, in which she goes on to laugh with Ben and then seconds later grabs him by the hair and forbids him to see her daughter, defines the character. With her eyes alone, Bancroft gives voice to the fear we all have: that we'll reach a certain point in our lives, look around and realize that all the things we said we'd do and become will never come to be -- and that we're ordinary because of it.
Picture is not so bad but it could use a restoration. It's not anamorphic, hard to believe for a DVD released in 2004, but hey, it's MGM. They also released another edition this year, the same transfer without the extras.
Last edited by Simon on Fri Oct 17, 2008 1:26 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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#3 Post by yumitree » Sat Jun 18, 2005 1:27 am

chances are this will be re-released when rumor has it comes out.

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#4 Post by Jeff » Sat Jun 18, 2005 2:02 am

Last November, The Digital Bits reported that a new special edition would be released "in the first half of 2005." Obviously it has been pushed back a bit -- most likely, as Yumitree suggested, to coincide with Rumor Has It.

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#5 Post by hearthesilence » Sat Jun 18, 2005 2:46 am

In that case, I'll wait. What was the film shot on? I recall some sort of restoration work in the mid-90's, but supposedly it was a difficult task, and I don't think much money was thrown at it - i.e. not much was done.

That was before DVDs took off. Hopefully, things have changed.

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#6 Post by Michael » Wed May 03, 2006 9:27 am

The Graduate was recently aired on TCM so I finally watched it for the first time. It's pretty wonderful, especially the first half. Every scene with Mrs. Robinson sparkled. But the whole Berkeley sequence unexpectedly halted the film and dragged it down unfortunately. Benjamin's first and only date with Elaine was unbelievable and so contrived that it really threw me out of the film. I wish the film centered more on Mrs. Robinson - the most interesting character of them all. There are two amazing shots of her that still stick to my mind: the foggy/misty shot of her saying Hello Benjamin as he floats on the pool when the Robinsons come over and the very strange shot of her standing in a completely white narrow room looking very bewildered or depressed. God bless Anne Bancroft!

I really enjoyed The Graduate but the last half sizzling down tremendously really bugged me. The style is wonderful and it reminded me a lot of Harold and Maude and Rushmore.

Any insights that I need to know about The Graduate?

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#7 Post by bunuelian » Wed May 03, 2006 9:32 am

When he's shown driving west across the Bay Bridge to get to Berkeley, when Berkeley is in the East Bay, that throws the whole thing off for me. But, I'm shallow.

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#8 Post by Fletch F. Fletch » Wed May 03, 2006 12:13 pm

Michael wrote:I really enjoyed The Graduate but the last half sizzling down tremendously really bugged me. The style is wonderful and it reminded me a lot of Harold and Maude and Rushmore.
Yeah, The Graduate was definitely a stylistic influence on Rushmore as there is a similar floating in the pool scene with Bill Murray's character. Also, there are shots and just a general vibe of Rushmore that always makes me think of Harold and Maude, specifically the scene where Mr. Blume and Max meet at Max's mom's grave.

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#9 Post by Dylan » Wed May 03, 2006 1:00 pm

When he's shown driving west across the Bay Bridge to get to Berkeley, when Berkeley is in the East Bay,
But it's such a great shot! I think Nichols has talked about this...maybe Benjamin just took the long way (more time to sort out his thoughts)?

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#10 Post by Jean-Luc Garbo » Wed May 03, 2006 2:04 pm

Ah, Anne Bancroft! It'd be the judgement of Paris for me to decide between her and Charlotte Rampling.
I still haven't seen all of this movie, but the Wes Anderson love of it intrigued me. Also, a friend of mine new to films, saw this film and Midnight Cowboy. He hated the latter and loved the former - much to my surprise because he's rather conservative and I thought he'd hate both! But he liked The Graduate a lot so now I really want to give it a shot.
Any others by Nichols that can be recommended?

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#11 Post by Antoine Doinel » Wed May 03, 2006 2:10 pm

Who's Afraid Of Virginia Woolf is pretty much essential. After that and The Graduate Nichols went on to much less challenging work. Closer was quite good and a return to the form that made him such an intriguing director and is worth watching if not just Clive Owen's brilliant performance.

But far be it from me to sit on the ivory film tower as I have a soft spots for both Biloxi Blues and Working Girl.

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#12 Post by tryavna » Wed May 03, 2006 3:16 pm

His adaptation of Catch-22 is flawed but interesting. Worth a watch, but only after you've read the novel.

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#13 Post by Dylan » Wed May 03, 2006 4:37 pm

Any others by Nichols that can be recommended?
Although "The Graduate" is an excellent film, to me Mike Nichols means "Carnal Knowledge," one of the greatest films in American cinema, and one of my ten (or so) favorite films of all-time. Beautifully written by Jules Feiffer, the film examines twenty years of relationships and sexual exploration in the lives of two characters played by Jack Nicholson (his best performance, in my opinion) and Art Garfunkle, with only brilliant editing indicating the passing of time. Like "The Graduate," it has a kind of European feel to it, substantiated here by the cinematography of maestro Giuseppe Rotunno. It resonates with me in a way few others do, truly one of the greatest of films.

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#14 Post by gubbelsj » Wed May 03, 2006 4:45 pm

tryavna wrote:His adaptation of Catch-22 is flawed but interesting. Worth a watch, but only after you've read the novel.
The cast is certainly great. Alan Arkin, Martin Sheen, Jon Voight, Art Garfunkle, Bob Newhart, Anthony Perkins, Bob Balaban. And Orson Welles as General Dreedle, in what can best be described as one long slow burn. I remember being slightly disappointed by this one and most of Nichols' subsequent output. Dylan, you beat me to the punch, but I'll second your vote for Carnal Knowledge - one of the great American films, gloriously vulgar, heartfelt, witty, somber. Along with Five Easy Pieces, it's also the best place to appreciate Nicholson in all his young, early glory.

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#15 Post by Lino » Wed May 03, 2006 6:22 pm

Dylan wrote:
Any others by Nichols that can be recommended?
Although "The Graduate" is an excellent film, to me Mike Nichols means "Carnal Knowledge," one of the greatest films in American cinema
I certainly can second that with all my heart. I LOVE that movie. It really stands apart from anything that was being made at the time by sheer class, artistry, talent and maturity.

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#16 Post by ben d banana » Wed May 03, 2006 9:23 pm

Dylan wrote:
Any others by Nichols that can be recommended?
Although "The Graduate" is an excellent film, to me Mike Nichols means "Carnal Knowledge," one of the greatest films in American cinema, and one of my ten (or so) favorite films of all-time.
For what little it's worth, I heartily fifth.

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#17 Post by Dylan » Thu May 04, 2006 3:04 am

I had no idea "Carnal Knowledge" was loved here, I was convinced before this morning that very few (or nobody) had seen it. A line or scene from that film will occur to me more than often during the week, often the ending (which strikes me as strangely beautiful) or the wonderful opening title voice over, leading to the shot of Candice Bergen walking in and out of shadow (a Lynchian prelude if there is one), or really any scene. How about when Nicholson and Garfunkle are talking in front of a completely white ice rink (where most of the audience, I'm assuming, believes the location has moved to the mountains), then cutting to another completely different-looking angle of them in front of buildings, then all three elements framed together for a later shot...I'd be here all night if I were to go any further; every scene, every observation, feeling, and emotion is beautifully written, shot, and directed.

Spoiler:

My favorite scene is where Nicholson and Garfunkle are alone planning to have sex with the other's partner since they are both preposterously starved for a new female (Nicholson particularly keen on the idea of a colder, more dominating woman, Garfunkle loving the idea of a blatant sex bomb). By that point in the film we seriously feel their need for this change as we've been put through the many painful stages of a relationship; it moves me in its sheer sexual honesty and frank desire for new partners, all together more affective because we know them so well.

I suppose the topic should be changed to "Mike Nichols."

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#18 Post by life_boy » Thu May 04, 2006 11:56 am

tryavna wrote:His adaptation of Catch-22 is flawed but interesting.
Could you (or someone) elaborate a little on this? I hear it a lot but I haven't heard anyone explain what they mean by it.

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#19 Post by tryavna » Fri May 05, 2006 12:09 pm

life_boy wrote:
tryavna wrote:His adaptation of Catch-22 is flawed but interesting.
Could you (or someone) elaborate a little on this? I hear it a lot but I haven't heard anyone explain what they mean by it.
It's been a while since I've seen the movie, but in general terms: The brilliance of the Heller's novel rests in the tone of its narration and its baggy, laid-back structuring -- two things that the movie has difficulty in recapturing. Nichols' movie runs just over two hours, and so he necessarily had to jettison large chunks of the novel. As a result, the movie is at times incoherent, and many of the characters remain two-dimensional, whereas they were more fleshed out in the book. Nor does the film really capture the shocking juxtaposition between the day-to-day drugery of being in the army and the moments of random violence of being in a fighting war. (That's something that MASH does a much better job of, even though it has little in common with Catch-22's content.)

Nichols also seems to think that Heller's matter-of-fact narrative voice equates to detachment. That makes his movie much colder and more distant than the book ever was. Heller is certainly cynical, but he makes us care about Yossarian and some of the other characters, even as he undercuts our hope for their survival at every turn.

Finally, I just don't think the movie is nearly as funny as the novel. The novel had me rolling on the floor at times, but I never had the same reaction to the film -- despite a very capable cast.

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#20 Post by rumz » Fri May 05, 2006 2:43 pm

bunuelian wrote:When he's shown driving west across the Bay Bridge to get to Berkeley, when Berkeley is in the East Bay, that throws the whole thing off for me. But, I'm shallow.
Having been to Berkeley (via San Francisco), I know this is a geographical flaw, but this remains - undoubtedly - my favorite scene in this film. It's a demonstration of Ben's exodus, in which he seems free of his familial vices, for the first time.

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#21 Post by bufordsharkley » Fri May 05, 2006 8:03 pm

AMB wrote:Any others by Nichols that can be recommended?
...Both of the Coen brothers list Nichols's The Fortune, (which I've never had a chance to see,) as one of their very favorites.

Anybody have a take on it?

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#22 Post by Polybius » Sat May 06, 2006 1:50 am

tryavna wrote:His adaptation of Catch-22 is flawed but interesting. Worth a watch, but only after you've read the novel.
I saw it uncut for the first time as I was reading the novel, a couple of years ago (no planning on my part, pure serendipity.) You probably need to have read the novel, but all in all, I like Mike's adaptation, a lot.
tryavna wrote: The novel had me rolling on the floor at times [...]
"She called me a gear!" and Col. Cathcart's repeated classification of everything that happens into one of the two categories of "A Black Eye" or "Feather In Our Cap" are particularly hilarious.

I laugh whenever I hear either of those two expressions today.
AMB wrote: Also, a friend of mine new to films, saw this film and Midnight Cowboy. He hated the latter and loved the former
Oddly, I'm 180° in the other direction 8-)

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#23 Post by HerrSchreck » Sat May 06, 2006 2:33 am

AMB wrote: Also, a friend of mine new to films, saw this film and Midnight Cowboy. He hated the latter...

That's just about as bad as thinking the protagonist in BICYCLE THEIVES is a pathetic loser who deserves what he gets being unable to think outa the box. Hating MIDNIGHT COWBOY.. I mean actively hating it, reveals perhaps more about the hater than it does about the film. He must be really I mean really puritanical.

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#24 Post by Polybius » Sun May 07, 2006 8:21 pm

If nothing else, seeing that movie allows you to get one of Tony Randall's funniest lines fron the run of The Odd Couple.

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#25 Post by Michael » Mon May 29, 2006 7:04 pm

Let me join the Carnal Knowledge fan club. I saw it two weeks ago and it continues to resonate very strongly with me. Nicholson and Garfunkel were phenomenal ...and so were all the women. The long stretch with Ann-Margaret is probably my favorite part of the film. I can see how annoying she can be to some people but Ann-Margaret's work was very subtly courageous and powerful. I loved how she was shot with eerie light stalking her.

I also loved the slide-show sequence depicting every lover of Nicholson's past.. So magnificently composed and lit. I didn't expect the ending with Rita Moreno...Devastating in how it vividly revealed the ugly, permanent hopelessness, emptiness of Nicholson's character much further. But that sequence melted into blinding white with a lovely ice skater spinning. Dylan, what is your take on this ending?

Carnal Knowledge is a brutally honest, upsetting, intelligent and beautiful film. I'm not a fan of Mike Nichols but this is his finest hour. And possibly one of the greatest and most honest American films ever made.

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