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Mike Nichols
Anne Bancroft, Dustin Hoffman, Katharine Ross, William Daniels, Murray Hamilton, Elizabeth Wilson
Writing Credits:
Charles Webb (novel), Calder Willingham, Buck Henry

This is Benjamin. He's a little worried about his future.

Nominated for seven Academy Awards in 1967 and winner for Best Director, this "delightful, satirical comedy-drama" (Variety) is "wildly hilarious" (Boston Globe). Written by Calder Willingham and Buck Henry, the film launched the career of two-time Oscar winner Dustin Hoffman and cemented the stellar reputation of director Mike Nichols. Pulsating with the rebellious spirit of a generation and haunting songs composed by Paul Simon and Dave Grusin and performed by Simon and Garfunkel, The Graduate is truly a "landmark film" (Leonard Maltin).

Shy Ben Braddock (Dustin Hoffman) is home from college with a degree in hand and an uncertain future in mind. Add to his confusion the aggressive advances by the wife of his father's business partner, the sexy Mrs. Robinson (Anne Bancroft), and poor Ben is completely lost. That is until, he meets the girl of his dreams Elaine (Katharine Ross). One problem: Elaine is Mrs. Robinson's daughter! And she'll stop at nothing to ensure that these two lovers remain separated forever!

Box Office:
$3 million.

Rated R

Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1
English DTS-HD MA 5.1
English Dolby Digital Monaural
French Dolby Digital Monaural
Supplements Subtitles:

Runtime: 106 min.
Price: $16.99
Release Date: 1/25/2011

• Trailers


Panasonic TC-P60VT60 60-Inch 1080p 600Hz 3D Smart Plasma HDTV; Sony STR-DG1200 7.1 Channel Receiver; Panasonic DMP-BD60K Blu-Ray Player using HDMI outputs; Michael Green Revolution Cinema 6i Speakers (all five); Kenwood 1050SW 150-watt Subwoofer.


The Graduate [Blu-Ray] (1967)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (November 2, 2014)

1967 was an amazing year, mainly because that's when I was born. However, I hear that a few other things happened as well, not the least of which seems to be that it was a fine time for movies.

Often the race for the Best Picture Academy Award becomes a fairly tepid affair because none of the nominees appear terribly compelling. However, 1967 seemed to be one of those years like 1994 or 1939 where a bunch of standouts made hit the screens.

Of the five Oscar nominees, only one - Dr. Dolittle - looks like a mistake, as the others were solid films. While I won't strongly argue against the selection of In the Heat of the Night as the winner, I do feel that it probably wasn't the best of the bunch. The strongest and almost certainly most influential and enduring of 1967's picks was Mike Nichols' The Graduate.

Its failure to win Best Picture seems like no surprise because it was such a small, personal film. It was one of those "coming of age" movies but without the beer and nudity that genre appears to require these days. Okay, there was alcohol and nudity in The Graduate, but not in the Porky's sense. In the Heat of the Night gave the Academy one of their beloved "social cause" movies, so its win during those "progressive" times seemed virtually inevitable.

Nonetheless, The Graduate remains the big hit from that year, both financially and historically. In regard to the former, it was the top box office draw for the year, and as for the latter, it launched Dustin Hoffman's career. Would we ever have heard from that unusual little man had he not appeared here as Benjamin Braddock? Probably, but it still acted as his first prominent role.

It's a tribute to Hoffman's later success that we don't reflexively think of him as Ben. Actors often get stuck with one persona, especially when they hit it big like this.

While he has demonstrated obvious staying power and talent, I don't think Hoffman ever surpassed his work in The Graduate. Hoffman's portrayal of Ben reached a level of perfection I don't think he's been able to equal in the years since then.

Although I think he tends to rely too heavily on gimmicks, I can't deny Hoffman’s overall talent. But Ben was not just a well-executed performance, it was also a very natural one, which is an area that has often been weak for Hoffman. He tends to seem much more concerned with various mechanics than he is feeling; I think Hoffman over-intellectualizes his work.

That isn’t the case with Ben. As played by Hoffman, he comes across exactly as he should at virtually all times. Hoffman never hits a wrong note or falters in the least. It's an absolutely stunning performance, so strong that it's a tribute to Hoffman's drive that he didn't just coast on its success for a number of years. To his credit, Hoffman has often shown a proclivity for roles in challenging films; he would develop a new "signature character" just two years later in Midnight Cowboy.

Of course, Hoffman didn't perform in a vacuum, and the supporting case also seemed excellent. The Graduate was a well-cast film, as not a single part appears to offer the wrong person. Anne Bancroft was only six years older than Hoffman when she played Mrs. Robinson, which is a stark contrast to the decades that are supposed to separate them.

As such, while Hoffman had to play about a decade younger than his actual age, she had to go a decade older, and she did so wonderfully. For the most part, Mrs. Robinson is a limited role - Bancroft receives little opportunity to provide any kind of emotion other than anger or bitterness - but Bancroft nonetheless makes her seem real and full.

As does Katharine Ross as Elaine Robinson. Again, this character receives only a limited emotional range from the script; Elaine gets a bit more leeway than does her mother, but still seems mainly required to look beautiful, virginal and pure. However, Ross is able to convey a wide variety of feelings and thoughts via her limited part. Elaine seems believable and realistic throughout the film.

Director Mike Nichols paces the film wonderfully and maintains an exquisite balance between comedy and drama. The Graduate offers quite a few terrific laughs and remains funny through repeated viewings, mainly because many of the amusing bits result from the nuanced performances. The jokes themselves don't seem that funny, but the way they're acted does.

Also, the sense of realism that pervades the movie helps keep it fresh and compelling. If one closely examines the film, one could easily pick it apart for various overly stylized parts and other aspects that could detract from its truth, but the picture flows and holds together so well as a whole that such criticisms are largely rendered meaningless. I don't think The Graduate is the best and most enduring film of the Sixties, but it's pretty high on that list.

The Blu-ray Grades: Picture C-/ Audio B/ Bonus D-

The Graduate appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 2.35:1 on this Blu-ray Disc. Parts of the image look positive but various flaws marred the presentation.

Sharpness varied. Many shots came across as well-defined and accurate, but others seemed somewhat soft and mushy. Some of this stemmed from the source photography, but that didn’t appear to prompt most of the softness. Edge haloes were an issue, as more than a few moments showed them – and those added to the lack of clarity.

I noticed no issues with jagged edges or shimmering, and source flaws were essentially absent. I detected a speck or two but otherwise this was a clean presentation. It appeared some digital noise reduction was used here, as the movie could seem a bit flat and “smoothed out” at times.

Colors tended toward a brownish feel that reflected the film stocks to a degree. Brighter moments – usually in daytime exteriors – presented pretty good hues, though. Blacks were fairly dark and tight, and shadows showed reasonable clarity. This wasn’t a bad image but it came with more concerns than I’d like.

The film’s DTS-HD MA 5.1 soundfield opened up the image in a minor way. The forward spectrum dominated, as the sides broadened to give us occasional examples of effects and localized speech. I wasn’t wild about the latter, as the lines tended to bleed a bit, but the dialogue popped up from the sides infrequently enough that it wasn’t a big distraction.

Music also spread to the sides, though not with great stereo imaging. Surround usage was minimal, as the back speakers offered minor reinforcement of the front and that was about it. This wasn’t a particularly ambitious soundfield.

Audio quality seemed good given the age of the material. Speech could be a little thin but the lines appeared natural most of the time. Music displayed nice delineation, with reasonably clear highs and some good range.

Effects didn’t play a major role, but they appeared acceptably accurate and well-defined. I’m not sure The Graduate needed one 5.1 remix much less two, as the original mono material should suit it just fine. In any case, the remixes were subdued enough to complement the material in a satisfying manner.

How did the Blu-ray compare to the Special Edition from 2007? Audio was slightly more natural but not by much, as the source material held back the track. Visuals were a bit tighter and more dynamic, but the issues with the transfer made this less of an upgrade than I’d expect.

Unfortunately, the Blu-ray drops the broad collection of extras found on the 2007 DVD. Instead, we just find a bizarrely revealing trailer for The Graduate - one that summarizes literally the whole movie across its three minutes, 47 seconds as well as ads for The Pink Panther (1963), Hoosiers and Rocky.

The Graduate is an absolutely terrific film that definitely merits its status as a classic. Despite the many years since its release, the movie holds up well - I wish I could say the same for myself. The Blu-ray provides satisfactory audio along with flawed visuals and minor supplements. This ends up as a disappointing Blu-ray that could use a remaster.

To rate this film visit the DVD review of THE GRADUATE

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