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review added: 3/24/00



The Graduate
Special Edition - 1967 (1999) - MGM

review by Brad Pilcher of The Digital Bits

The Graduate: Special Edition Film Rating: A-

Disc Ratings (Video/Audio/Extras): B+/A-/B+

Specs and Features

105 mins, PG, letterboxed widescreen (2.35:1), single-sided, single-layered, Amaray keep case packaging, theatrical trailer, behind-the-scenes documentary, interview with Dustin Hoffman, film-themed menu screens, scene access (19 chapters), languages: English (DD 2.0), subtitles: French, Spanish, Closed Captioned


"Would you like me to seduce you? Is that what you're trying to tell me?"

Dustin Hoffman plays the bumbling Ben Braddock in the 1967 classic, The Graduate. As films go, this one is a must-see for any fan of cinema. It still manages to entertain and amuse some three decades after its initial release. On DVD, the film has just gotten better.

The story goes something like this. Ben is a 21-year-old, recently graduated from college, who has returned home to relax after four years or hard work. Anne Bancroft plays the infamous Mrs. Robinson, who apparently takes quite the liking to young Ben. After luring him over to her home, she undresses and declares herself "available" to the petrified Ben. After a bit of thought, Ben decides to take Mrs. Robinson up on her offer and they begin having "regular rendezvous'' at the Taft Hotel. This is all fine and good, until Mrs. Robinson's daughter Elaine arrives home from college. Mr. Robinson and Ben's parents coerce him into taking her out, and a budding romance ensues. Mrs. Robinson naturally finds this quite unacceptable, and all sorts of comedic chaos hence develop.

The film is a visual textbook for filmmakers. It has some of the greatest bits of composition ever seen, continually trapping the hapless Ben between elements. The music is a perfect chord from Simon & Garfunkel. The acting is also solid, although these are neither Anne Bancroft's nor Dustin Hoffman's finest performances. Hoffman was really just beginning in film with this movie, so that's entirely understandable. However, his performance is dead-on for the role and should be commended.

On the video side of the disc, a beautiful picture is rendered. Very little grain is present here. Almost all defects have been removed and artifacting is not a problem. The downside is that no anamorphic transfer is presented. That's incredibly unfortunate, as it really would have brought this film to life. Considering its time period, however, you really can't fault the video. The sound is perfect as well. The 2.0 mix is good, bringing out all of the little whimpers of Hoffman as he wiggles into and out of some very sticky situations. No complaints on this end of things.

The extras are also top-notch. An interview with Dustin Hoffman is included along with a small behind-the-scenes documentary. To be honest, the Hoffman interview was infinitely more insightful and entertaining than the documentary. However, it was interesting to see some of the footage included in the documentary. The original theatrical trailer is also included, and is very interesting considering the difference in styles between modern previews and 1960s previews. A 1987 laserdisc release included an audio commentary by film professor Howard Suber, and it would have been nice to see that here. However, that's quibbling and there is really nothing to complain about with the extras given. By the way, this DVD version is identical to the earlier release from Polygram (it's basically a re-packaging).

From film majors to plain old cinema fans, The Graduate is a film that simply belongs in every collection. Dustin Hoffman really broke out here and the ensemble is stunning. The script is top notch, and the directing and cinematography are textbooks all their own. If you're a serious fan of film, graduate to The Graduate and go get it today.

Brad Pilcher
bradpilcher@thedigitalbits.com




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