Here’s to you, Mrs. Robinson – "The Graduate" turns 50
Photo by Movie Poster Image Art/Getty Images(NEW YORK) — A small film featuring an unknown star, based on an obscure book, and helmed by a newbie director, became a counterculture classic following its release 50 years ago today: Mike Nichols’ The Graduate.
Based on the book by Charles Webb, the movie featured a then-unknown New York stage actor named Dustin Hoffman as Benjamin Braddock, a college grad seduced by his girlfriend’s mother. In the book, Benjamin was supposed to be more of a Robert Redford type, and in fact, Redford wanted the role.
Nichols, who died in 2014, recalled in a 2008 Vanity Fair interview, that he told Redford he couldn’t have the part because he felt Redford could “never play a loser.”
“I said, ‘O.K., have you ever struck out with a girl?’ and [Redford] said, ‘What do you mean?'” Nichols said. “And he wasn’t joking.”
Though the late Anne Bancroft was just six years older than Hoffman in real life, her character, Mrs. Robinson, was made to appear decades older. Her character, of course, helped inspire the Simon & Garfunkel hit of the same name. It was one of five songs by the duo that appeared on the soundtrack.
The Graduate won the Best Picture Oscar. Bancroft, already an Oscar winner for The Miracle Worker, was nominated again for The Graduate; she won a Golden Globe. Hoffman was also nominated for an Oscar and won a Golden Globe.
Late this year, Hoffman was accused of decades-old inappropriate behavior by several women, making a story related in the 2008 Vanity Fair piece on the movie somewhat eyebrow raising. During Hoffman’s audition with Katharine Ross, who played Benjamin’s girlfriend, Hoffman “gave [her] a little pinch on her backside” to “relax them both.”
Hoffman recalls, “She whirled around and said, ‘Don’t you ever do that to me again. How dare you!'”
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