Sunday, December 01, 2002

Plastics: The Graduate was running on Bravo last night and I got caught up in it. I have never been enamored of Dustin Hoffman and this viewing didn’t really change my mind. But that fact doesn’t change that it's a great movie. There are so many good things about the production and direction. An old hobby horse of screen-writers is that action should drive a movie. If dialog and exposition are being used as a plot summary or to explain the movie, you have failed. If the themes of a story are "discovered" by viewers, they are much more powerful that if the viewers are told what's going on like they were children. The Graduate is stellar in this respect. In fact, the concept is extended to a risky point – think of the sequence where Ben is wallowing in the pool in full scuba gear.

But a story laden with complex and subtle emotions can’t move forward through action without exceptional actors to portray those emotions clearly, but without going overboard. The real winner here was Anne Bancroft, who hit a home run with her portrayal of the cooly self-hating Mrs. Robinson. By the end of the movie, when she turns to Elaine and says "It's too late," and Elaine replies, "Not for me," you already knew that without it ever having been spoken.

The other thing that stuck me is how close the themes of the movie are to Apple Pie (written nearly 30 years later). Young men adrift in the world never change, I suppose. I could easily see somebody writing an updated version of The Graduate as a sequel to Apple Pie.