Greatest Film Scenes
and Moments

The Graduate (1967)


Written by Tim Dirks

Title Screen
Movie Title/Year and Scene Descriptions

The Graduate (1967)

In Mike Nichols' classic 60's generation-gap comedy with a memorable Simon and Garfunkel soundtrack:

  • the opening credits with young and adrift recent college graduate Benjamin Braddock (Dustin Hoffman) on a plane 'descending' into LAX - and then standing mute by himself on the automated, moving walkway (with a monotonous recording: "Please hold the handrail, and stand to the right. If you wish to pass, please do so on the left") at the busy airport
  • the famous one-word line of advice from well-meaning Mr. McGuire at Benjamin's celebratory graduation party held in his honor by his materialistic parents in their home in Pasadena, CA: "Plastics...there's a great future in plastics"
  • the scene of Benjamin's aloofness and alienation when he stared into his fish tank's glass in his upstairs bedroom - he was interrupted by the sudden appearance of Mrs. Robinson (Anne Bancroft), the wife of his father's close business partner, who burst into his bedroom; eventually, she insisted that he drive her home because her husband had already left with their car; although he agreed to take her ("Let's go!"), she tossed his keys into the fish tank where he fished them out before they left together
  • the scene of the lecherous, Mrs. Robinson's brazen seduction of a bewildered Benjamin as she perched with her left leg on a bar stool in her home (with the camera shooting under her upraised leg) - and his befuddled reply-question: "Mrs. Robinson, you're trying to seduce me! - Aren't you?"
  • Mrs. Robinson's further assaultive seduction upstairs by exposing her breasts to him (seen in split-second, jump-cut flashes but first reflected in the picture of her daughter Elaine (Katharine Ross)) as she cornered him and blocked his exit: "Benjamin. I want you to know that I'm available to you, and if you won't sleep with me this time......if you won't sleep with me this time I want you to know that you can call me up anytime you want and we'll make some kind of an arrangement. Do you understand what I...?...Did you understand what I said?...Because I find you very attractive. Now, anytime you want, you just..."
  • the image of a disillusioned Benjamin submerged in his parents' swimming pool with scuba gear to escape from everything
  • Benjamin's nervous first-time check-in at the Taft Hotel for the affair for the first of their many trysts - and his attempts to be suave as he checked in, signing himself in as "Mr. Gladstone" and feigning sleepiness; he assured the room desk clerk (Buck Henry) that he had his toothbrush
  • and the seduction scene in the hotel room in which he prematurely kissed her while she was trying to exhale cigarette smoke; then, he spontaneously grabbed Mrs. Robinson's right breast and banged his head against the wall in frustration, babbling moral platitudes ("I think you're the most attractive of all my parents' friends") and resolving to end the affair before it began
Seduced in the Taft Hotel Room
  • the jump-cut of Benjamin hoisting himself up onto an inflatable rubber pool raft and landing on top of Mrs. Robinson in bed (and another jump cut to his backyard pool with his father asking his lounging son: "Ben, what are you doing?") - with his response that he was "drifting"
Jump-Cut Editing
  • the sequences of Benjamin's dating of the more appropriately-aged Elaine; during their first date, he deliberately tried to put Elaine off by being offensive; without communicating with her (wearing his sunglasses at night), he drove recklessly in his sports car and then marched ahead of her into a tawdry strip joint to humiliate her; a stripper (Lainie Miller) twirled the dangling tassels on her bare, rotating breasts directly behind Elaine's head, while Ben asked: "You're missing a great effect here. How'd you like that? Could you do it?"
  • the scene of Benjamin's shocking reveal to his girlfriend Elaine, in her upstairs bedroom, that he was sleeping with her mother (with Mrs. Robinson standing outside the open door listening): "That older woman that I told you about?...The married woman. That wasn't just some woman..." - the revelation was artfully shot - she glanced at her mother and then looked back at Benjamin; Elaine's out-of-focus face slowly came into focus as she realized the woman having an affair with Benjamin was her mother; totally offended and hysterical, Elaine first reacted: "Oh, no. Oh, my God," and then refused to speak to Benjamin; she screamed as she ordered him out
  • Benjamin's mad drive and frantic rush toward a Santa Barbara church - and running out of gas a few blocks away (he was forced to go on foot - at an extreme depth of focus camera, making him appear to be running in place) to stop Elaine's in-progress wedding to another man in order to rescue her
  • the view of Benjamin behind the church's choir loft window in the balcony and raising his hand up and repeatedly banging on the pane of plate-glass while crying out: "Elaine!" (desperate that the ceremony had already concluded); he descended to the ground floor, knocked Mr. Robinson to the floor, pushed the bridegroom back, and grabbed newly-wed Elaine, as Mrs. Robinson confronted her daughter and shouted: "Elaine, it's too late!" - she responded with the film's last line: "Not for me!"; Mrs. Robinson slapped Elaine twice across the face to bring her back to reality, but it was in vain
  • the image of Benjamin wielding a large golden church cross like a weapon, and then securing the church door with the cross as he and Elaine ran from the church
The Escape From the Wedding - Bus Ride
  • the final lingering shot of them boarding a yellow Santa Barbara municipal bus, sitting in the back seat, and riding into an unknown future

Opening Credits


Mrs. Robinson in Benjamin's Bedroom

"Mrs. Robinson, you're trying to seduce me! - Aren't you?"

Appearing Topless and Blocking Benjamin's Exit

Adrift in Pool

Check-In at the Taft Hotel

Elaine (Katharine Ross)

Benjamin: "You're missing a great effect here"

Reveal Scene

Racing to the Church

Pounding on the Glass: "Elaine!"


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