Film of the book: ‘The Graduate’ (1967)

One of those very successful films which eclipse the original book. I don’t think I even knew of the 1963 book by Charles Webb until I found it in a charity shop! It’s a couple of years since I read it – the writing style was so annoying that I couldn’t actually face reviewing the book – but from what I remember, the film is very close to the book in every way. The characters are all faithful representations and even a lot of the dialogue is the same.

The story is about Ben, who is suffering from post-graduation ennui and has no motivation for the future. He is seduced by his parents’ friend Mrs Robinson and he commences an affair with her (a physical relationship, no romance and not even much talking). However, he falls in love with Mrs Robinson’s daughter Elaine and things get complicated.

There were only 6 years between Dustin Hoffman and Anne Bancroft but the age gap between the characters is supposed to be rather more than that! I think they are very well acted though. In some respects this film is very much of its time: chain-smoking, thick sooty eyelashes, op art designs, unconventional shots and the casual attitudes to sexual assault. The nudity was no doubt edgy but compared to today’s fare there is almost nothing to see!

Of course the film is quite funny at times, more so than the book, as far as I remember. Simon & Garfunkel’s music is the soundtrack, which for me does not quite fit with the tone of the film. The well-known theme ‘Mrs Robinson’ is not used until the end.

In summary, if you’ve seen the film, then you don’t need to read the book.

Low-resolution film poster sourced from Wikipedia.

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