1967, US, directed by Mike Nichols
Nearly 40 years on, The Graduate remains energetic and frequently amusing, although as the film's running time slips by, it's hard to avoid the sense that it have as much to say as it would like us to think, despite its status (some of it quite conscious) as a commentary on a generation. The observation that upper-middle-class Southern California might be superficial and obsessed with financial or social status is hardly an original thought (nor was it original in 1967); the social world of the film is so oppressive that only a fool wouln't want to rebel against it (even so, the final scene is surprisingly liberating). Dustin Hoffman's star-making performance mostly consists of looking startled by the events going on around him - things seem to happen near him rather than to him - but his fixed expression is so amusing that it carries him throughout the film, while his hesitant line-readings brilliantly capture his character's many confusions. While she's as much icon as actual character, it's hard not to think that Mrs. Robinson gets the short end of the stick: while she's undeniably manipulative and hypocritical, she's also, quite clearly, a troubled, unhappy woman, but the film isn't really all that interested in her fate.