YOU HAVEN'T SEEN: The Graduate

People are shocked when they find out I haven't seen their favorite, classic, essential-addition-to-the-pop-cultural-cannon film. So I made a list, and am working my way through. Join me as I watch your favorite movie for the first time. 


Look at Lil' Baby Dustin!

This is a plane full of mental patients?

What airport is this that the moving sidewalk goes on for almost the entire length of "Sound of Silence"?

Brief argument between Court and myself as to which is more attractive: young, tan, kind of blank-faced Dustin or old, funny, salt & pepper Dustin.

What a weird shot, his mom's sparkly dress filling the frame.

"IS THAT MR. PHEENY?!" - Court (Update: it totally is)

Can't tell from these opening shots if the tone of despair is setting us up for "Dustin is full of existential ennui because he doesn't know what he wants to be when he grows up" or "Dustin had a mental breakdown and has come back home with a terrible secret"

Young man sighs and stares into goldfish tank.

Enter Mrs. Robinson, making smoking look SO COOL and undoing several decades of 90's D.A.R.E. programming in my mind.

I feel like I've seen an homage to this shot of a man's hand fishing out keys from a fishtank before. (...On the Simpsons maybe??)

"Is... is she trying to seduce him?" - Court

The Robinsons' black and white mid century modern house with pinleg furniture and plants EVERYWHERE is basically all of my friend's current instagrammable home goals. We're all just basically digging through thrift shops and Craig's List to find Mrs. Robinson's original furniture from 1967.

"Mrs. Robinson you're trying to seduce me!" - young Dustin, clearing things up for Court

The "Mrs. Robinson you're trying to seduce me" shot from between her legs was made famous to me via an homage on "The Nanny" starring Fran Drescher. In case you were wondering what I WAS watching in lieu of all this important cinema.

Elaine the daughter's bedroom is basically my dream childhood bedroom, minus the giant portrait? No, let's be honest: including the giant portrait.


Now we are at the scene with his family by the pool and I understand where one gets those tan-lines. Skin cancer hadn't been invented yet in the 60's, right?

Now he is underwater in the pool.

How many film thesis papers have drawn the parallel between Dustin's fish tank and Dustin scuba diving in the pool as if within his own fish tank?

"This is so emo." - Court

How many film thesis papers have mentioned Mrs. Robinson's recurring leopard-spot motif as a representation of the woman as "the animal" or "the hunted becoming the huntress" or "the prototypical cougar"?

I want someone to bring me a phone at a bar a la Mrs. Robinson. That is the only thing I personally find aspirational from this film.

"I think you're the most attractive of all my parent's friends." - favorite line so far

Another pool scene. Point 1 for Team Young Dumb-faced Dustin Hoffman, Court obstinately continues to root for Older Salt & Pepper Dustin Hoffman.

So is The Graduate to Simon & Garfunkel as Garden State is to The Shins?

The high-waisted shorts. The stylish espadrilles. The blue and white pinstripe shirts. I would describe my summer aesthetic as "The Dad in The Graduate".

Dustin inexplicably takes the Daughter on a date to a strip club?

Now Dustin and the Daughter are at the original Sonic drive-in?

More floating in a pool.

"Aren't we all really just fish contained in society's tank?" - my and everyone else's film thesis papers.

Montage of Dustin stalking Elaine. Literally lurking behind plants.

Montage of Dustin walking around Berkeley fountains. Any SMU film kids ever shoot a remake of this scene? We've got nice fountains.

Daughter emerges from class wearing a raincoat and riding boots, ALSO V. ON TREND for college girls in 2017.

Is 2017 just the aesthetic version of a cover song of the year 1967?

And then they just do a rickety ZOOM OUT like nobody's business in a bunch of these shots. Is that a stylistic choice, or is that just what zoom was like then in 60's cinematography?

We're going to let this blonde woman with fur sit on the bus next to Elaine and NOT talk about how extraordinarily glamorous she is? Glamorous bus lady and Mrs. Robinson are just wearing all of this fur and undoing a decades's worth of P.E.T.A. programming from my y2k-era pop star heroes.


I wake up and there's a blanket on me and I ask "wait what happened?" And court says "he stalks her at college and then gets close to her saying yes she'll marry him but then her dad shows up and knows about the affair with Mrs. Robinson and then they pull her from school and make her marry the guy from the zoo and Dustin goes to the guy's frat house and then uses a phone book to find the church which is funny it's like a phone book and then he runs out of gas and then there's that famous shot of him running and he finds the wedding and then he yells "ELLAAAAAIIINE" and her mom's like "he's too late" and then Elaine goes "BEEEEEEEN" and he grabs a cross off the wall and they start running and they get on a bus."

At this point I am fully awake because nothing gives me energy like having the insufferable insights of a TED Talk and I share how I read that their last expressions in that last shot were after the director called "cut" and their remorseful final faces weren't acting, they thought the shot hadn't been good and the director would yell at them.

Then we watch the final scene in the chapel via YouTube.

How many film thesis papers have examined young Dustin violently waving the parents away in the chapel with a giant gold cross as a symbol for the changing sentiments towards organized religion across generational lines in the 60s/70s?

Also, I don't mean to get all "Janielle and her mis-identification of the hero and attachment to alternate female protagonists" here, but Daughter and Mrs. Robinson are clearly more interesting characters to explore than Dustin, right? For Daughter this is a kind of romantic comedy (haha bad date turned out to be fun!) then psychological thriller (he's stalking me and has a secret with my mom) turned horror (omg he's really stalking me) turned romantic comedy again (interrupts my wedding just in the nick of time). For Mrs. Robinson there's a super interesting antihero angle that humanizes her behavior (in which Dustin serves as a periphery boy-toy) and several decades of a fascinating back-story to explore. Am I crazy?!?

In Conclusion: This film is obviously great and a feast for the eyes and I now understand what every indulgent millennial post-grad boy coming of age film is trying to do. Feels like The Graduate should be the one and only indulgent post-grad boy coming of age film and then the genre should have straight-up retired, but that's none of my business...

I am not sure if I can ethically cross The Graduate off my list if I fell asleep for ~20 minutes of it?