Appraising The Graduate

The Mike Nichols Classic and Its Impact in Hollywood

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About the Book

The popular success in 1967 of The Graduate was immediate and total; at the time, only Gone with the Wind and The Sound of Music were bigger box-office winners. Yet such phenomenal success came at a price: On the film’s 40th anniversary, director Mike Nichols claimed that The Graduate had been “whipped away” by a young audience hungry for countercultural documents. This study, the first monograph on The Graduate, explores how popular and subsequent critical reception deflected a full understanding of the film’s complex point of view, which satirizes everything in its path—especially Benjamin and Elaine, its young “heroes.” The text explores how the film offers not the happy ending some imagine, but a corrosive and satirical vision of humanity.
Instructors considering this book for use in a course may request an examination copy here.

About the Author(s)

J.W. Whitehead directs the fine arts and honors programs at Wheeling Jesuit University in Wheeling, West Virginia, where he teaches film, creative writing, and contemporary literature.

Bibliographic Details

J.W. Whitehead
Format: softcover (6 x 9)
Pages: 221
Bibliographic Info: 6 photos, notes, filmography, bibliography, index
Copyright Date: 2011
pISBN: 978-0-7864-6306-0
eISBN: 978-0-7864-8481-2
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Table of Contents


Acknowledgments ix

Preface 1

Part I. Introduction

 1. “Plastics” 15

 2. Post-­Graduate 26

 3. The Graduates 50

Part II. Seeing The Graduate

 4. “The Sounds of Silence”: Of Human Baggage (00:00–03:00) 69

 5. The Graduation Party (03:00–06:30) 76

 6. The Locked Womb (06:30–16:30) 83

 7. “Ben? You’ll Never Be Young Again.” (16:30–21:00) 94

 8. The Birthday Party (21:00–24:00) 99

 9. An “Affair” at the Taft Hotel (24:00–38:00) 104

10. “Drifting” (38:00–46:00) 113

11. “Conversation”-Stopper (46:00–55:00) 121

12. Elaine (55:00–1:10:30) 128

13. “Scarborough Fair”: The Berkeley Stalker (1:10:30–1:26:00) 137

14. “Mrs. Robinson”: The Loneliness of the Long­Distance Runner (1:26:00–1:41:00) 145

15. More “Sounds of Silence”: The Finishing Kick (1:41:00–1:46:00) 154

Part III. Valediction

16. The Legacy of The Graduate 171

Chapter Notes 195

Filmography 201

Bibliography 203

Index 207