Preppy Movie Preview: The Graduate (1967)

adoucett

Super Member
This review taken from my blog, and posted here for your enjoyment.

The Graduate. Perhaps the breakout performance of Dustin Hoffman's early career and certainly a commercial success, The Graduate is as much a defining piece of late 1960's culture as it is a film. The story follows Benjamin Braddock, in his summer following graduation from an East-Coast college. I first saw the film about 10 years ago but it remains one of my favorites to this day. What I hadn't been paying as much attention to back then, were the wardrobe choices that helped to define Benjamin's character and set the tone for the film. In this article, I will attempt to highlight some of the interesting sartorial elements of the movie and take a good-natured look at the finer details of the costuming.

The story itself revolves around the theme of the returning, alienated scholar, coming of age in a strange and rapidly evolving era. Kind of sounds a little familiar, since as I write this, I am in the exact same position as Benjamin in the film, having graduated college about 1 week ago! While I don't plan on hitting it off with any middle-aged women in the coming months, It is interesting to be living in the same temporal reference frame as one of my favorite characters from movie history.







The title scene begins all too familiarly, with Benjamin landing at Los Angeles International, as Simon & Garfunkel's venerable "The Sounds of Silence" plays in the background. We see our protagonist armed with a blank expression, a grey, flannel suit, oxford cloth button-down shirt, and what appears (according to sources) to be a Williams College tie as he travels down a moving walkway. Williams, much like Amherst College, would have been at the late-height of "trad" at this time--in accordance with other elite East Coast institutions that defined the style that has been emulated for many decades following.​


Ben is walked outside at his graduation party by "Mr. McGuire". Here we see him wearing a silk regimental tie, navy blazer, and grey wool trousers, with another button-down collar shirt (perhaps from Brooks Brothers?)​
By the pool, one of the most memorable and frequently quoted lines of the film (and Cinema in general!) is delivered:

Mr. McGuire:
I just want to say one word to you - just one word.
Ben: Yes sir.
Mr. McGuire: Are you listening?
Ben: Yes I am.
Mr. McGuire:
'Plastics.'

There are two bits of irony to this quote....as in the decades following the film's release, quite literally everything started to become made of plastic as our culture shifted to the disposable, consumeristic and wasteful society we are today. Clothes are not immune from this fate either. Had this story taken place in the 2000's instead of the 1960's, one could bet good money that one of those gentlemens J.C. Penny-bought "Stafford" shirts or suits would be 40% polyester...also known as PLASTIC!

A later scene at the hotel finds Ben wearing a 2-button tweed jacket, white OCBD shirt, and a black knit tie.


Comfortable in his ivy-styled clothes, but not in his own skin, Benjamin sits anxiously with the cougar (or leopard?) Ms. Robinson
Hard to see, but the jacket even has a single, hook vent in the rear...
...and patch pockets in the front

In one of the more famous scenes in the movie, we see Benjamin with an open oxford shirt, and undone repp tie.

Benjamin flings on this tan corduroy sport coat, creating the iconic poster-image for the film-- but here we get a better look of the repp tie underneath. If you scroll up to the DVD jacket cover above, you can see the same scene perhaps a second or two later.

Ben dons a seersucker jacket and what appears to be a wool tie with his usual oxford shirt combo.



"Too frat to care"

Drinking a coors while wearing menacingly short swim trunks and floating in a pool is now officially on the top of my summer to-do list.


Mr. Braddock: "Ben, what are you doing?"
Ben: "Well, I would say that I'm just drifting here in the pool."
Mr. Braddock: "Why?"
Ben: "Well, it's very comfortable just to drift here."
Mr. Braddock: "Have you thought about graduate school?"
Ben: "No."
Mr. Braddock: "Would you mind telling me then what those four years of college were for? What was the point of all that hard work?"
Ben: "You got me."​
Here, Ben has made his way to UC Berkeley in pursuit of the other Ms. Robinson, Elaine. He wears both his corduroy jacket and oxford shirt unbuttoned, in contrast to the more formal appearances earlier in the film.

no-break trouser sighting.
Ben confronts Elaine's new med-student boyfriend,
Carl, seen here with a pipe, tan overcoat, skinny tie and brown sportcoat.​

As a 6' tall Scandinavian, anyone want to bet he rows for Cal?

One last thing I must add: After watching the film for the first time many years ago I fell in love with the Red Alfa Romeo Spider so prominently featured in the story. If it wasn't for the harsh snowy New-England winters, I would probably have bought one by now. Owning an Alfa will forever be a small dream of mine, mostly due to the way the car is portrayed in this film.​


How I feel taking the bus wearing all pastels and sockless loafers.
Overall, The Graduate is a beautiful, intelligent, hilarious, and revolutionary film that despite being nearly 50 years old, has just as much impact now as when it was released--a true enduring classic.


Taking some style cues from Ben isn't a bad idea either: Most of the clothes he is wearing throughout the movie are as perfectly stylish now as they were in 1967, and that my friends is the enduring nature of the "trad" look. You can't say the same about the clothes of the Breakfast Club characters or other films which have a distinct, fleeting "era" attached to them.​
 

SG_67

Connoisseur
What's funny is that Hoffman was, I believe, only 8 or 9 years Ann Bancroft's junior when that film was made.
 

Duvel

Connoisseur
Thank you, adoucett. There are a handful of movies I return to time and again, and The Graduate is among them. I thoroughly enjoy your review.
 

Trad-ish

Senior Member
Great job, adoucett!

As an aside, my cousin has a son with Asperger's. When my cousin watched the movie again a few months ago, he swore that Hoffman's character seemed to have Asperger's as well (or was at least on the spectrum).

I'm still blown away Anne Bancroft was only 36 at the time of the movie. Incidentally, she ended up marrying Mel Brooks.

Has anyone noticed Richard Dreyfuss' cameo?
 

Duvel

Connoisseur
Ben always struck me that way, too. It's the affect of someone who can't quite connect with the world he lives in. In any case, Hoffman nails the character.

Great job, adoucett!

As an aside, my cousin has a son with Asperger's. When my cousin watched the movie again a few months ago, he swore that Hoffman's character seemed to have Asperger's as well (or was at least on the spectrum).

I'm still blown away Anne Bancroft was only 36 at the time of the movie. Incidentally, she ended up marrying Mel Brooks.

Has anyone noticed Richard Dreyfuss' cameo?
 

SG_67

Connoisseur
One of the most haunting scenes from that film was when Ben was filmed going in and out of the pool and in and out of bed with Mrs. Robinson alternately.

I believe The Sound of Silence was playing during it.
 

Roycru

Senior Member
I saw "The Graduate" in 1967 with my friend John. We both recognized Ricky in the film, as well as many of the locations.

Here's John, Ricky, and I in our Class Of '61 picture. John is the 6th from the left in the top row, Ricky is the 5th from the right in the second row, and I'm on the left end of the top row. Lynn (who was in "American Graffiti" with Ricky and is now on "It's Always Sunny In Philadelphia" is the 4th from the left in the third row).
 

32rollandrock

Connoisseur
It is a fabulous movie. One of my favorites. This said, if the OP has occasion to bed Anne Bancroft (which would be really creepy, given that she died a decade ago) or her like, he should do it. Such opportunity comes about only occasionally. Anne Bancroft was the ultimate MILF. The only thing that made it challenging in the film was Katherine Ross. If, say, Liza Minelli had been cast as the daughter, The Graduate would have been a comedy.
 

32rollandrock

Connoisseur
And here's another thing. Check out that bus scene. You really think that people who ride the bus in southern California, or anywhere, look like that, ever looked like that? Please. Not a brother in the bunch, but one guy is wearing cufflinks and a suit. I wonder: Was Mike Nichols sending a message with such an implausible scene?
 

Tempest

Honors Member
PBS just aired this and the beginning is okay. The clothing became the only thing worth watching when Bancroft was not onscreen, and that includes the plot. The odd collar spread really caught my eye.
The only thing that made it challenging in the film was Katherine Ross.
If you mean that there was almost no character development or plot advancement of note once she appeared, I agree.

What of Mr. Robinson's giant monogram on his golf cardigan? Or the trench he shows up in later?
 

eagle2250

Connoisseur/Curmudgeon Emeritus - Moderator
I've enjoyed watching The Graduate several times, but haven't really given it a thought in the past several(!) years. Fascinating thought, the character Ben afflicted with Asberger's syndrom...hauntingly obvious, but never before noted(?). This realization and adoucett's post leaves me with a compelling desire to see it again. Thank you for that!
 

Duvel

Connoisseur
I'm left with a haunting desire every year around this time to see it. I'll never tire of it. I suspect this movie would not have been nearly as great with Redford in the role (as was considered at one time).

My first impressions of the thmovie are from Mad magazine's satire of it. I was only in 5th or 6th grade when the movie came out, and my parents wouldn't let me see it. But I felt like I sort of "knew" the movie from reading the Mad magazine satire. Man, I wanted to see that movie!

After finally seeing the movie the first time, in high school, I went and got the book it's based on. I remember feeling that it was remarkably similar, almost like reading a script. Book is just as funny.
 

Titus_A

Super Member
A loathsome, despicable movie encapsulating a loathsome, despicable view of humanity (and most other things as well) from a time that has bequeathed its errors, and little else, to future generations. So Dustin Hoffman wears some nice clothes: people were still doing that then. It doesn't make the movie worth watching.
 

Duvel

Connoisseur
I take it you don't like the movie?

A loathsome, despicable movie encapsulating a loathsome, despicable view of humanity (and most other things as well) from a time that has bequeathed its errors, and little else, to future generations. So Dustin Hoffman wears some nice clothes: people were still doing that then. It doesn't make the movie worth watching.
 

mankson

Active Member with Corp. Privileges
Nice review, thanks.

The only thing I'd disagree with is that you refer to Anne Bancroft's character as Ms. Robinson - she is of course (the now iconic) Mrs. Robinson.
 
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