Thursday, March 18, 2010

Thursday American Cinema Classic

Welcome to a new weekly feature here at Movies with Abe, Thursday American Cinema Classic. I’m taking a course called American Cinema Since 1960 where we’re charting the history and development of American Cinema from the 1960s to the present. We’ll be watching some pretty iconic films, some of which I haven’t seen before. Each week, I’ll be providing a short review of one contemporary classic from the annals of recent history.

The Graduate
Directed by Mike Nichols
Released December 22, 1967

This is a universally agreed-upon fantastic film that launched the very prolific career of actor Dustin Hoffman and contains so many classic scenes that it’s hard to pick just a few to mention in a quick review. This certainly wasn’t my first time screening it, but watching it with a classroom full of people and appreciating the dated nature of the film just makes it all the more entertaining. The soundtrack by Simon and Garfunkel helps to give it a distinctive sedated feel, and that’s also aided by the performances from the entire cast. This film came out over forty years ago, which is quite unbelievable considering the fact that both director Mike Nichols and star Dustin Hoffman are still making quality films, like “Charlie Wilson’s War” and “Last Chance Harvey.” Of course they can’t possibly live up to the greatness of “The Graduate,” though some of Hoffman’s follow-up films certainly did, like “Tootsie” and “Rain Man.” This film is particularly important because, along with “Bonnie & Clyde” the same year, it represented explicit, previously unexplored and prohibited pictures of indecency in a non-gratuitous way that appealed greatly to audiences. The revamping of the motion picture rating system the following year enabled more films like this to be released, but this was really one of the trailblazers that paved the way for it. Hoffman’s performance is hilariously muted and dry, and Anne Bancroft does a magnificent job of not letting him get away with anything. The script is brilliant, and the transitions in the film are stellar. This is a classic that needs no revision, and those who try, like Rob Reiner, Jennifer Aniston, and Kevin Costner with 2005’s “Rumor Has It,” surely think better of it after the fact. As I mentioned earlier, it’s difficult to find just one scene to represent the film, but I think the above clip does a fine job.


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