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An advanced degree of influence on modern film

Times Staff Writer

The impact of the 1967 film “The Graduate” was huge. In fact, “The Graduate” helped bring about the cinematic revolution of the 1970s -- a decade that saw traditional studio movies taking a back seat to maverick young filmmakers, writers and actors who pushed boundaries of style, content and morality in a series of audacious movies.

Grover Crisp, vice president of asset management and film restoration for Sony Pictures, recently screened the new print of the classic comedy for its Oscar-winning director, Mike Nichols. “I was thinking this is a key film of its period because it kind of bridges the two different approaches to film which were changing right then,” Crisp says. “In one sense, it is a big, glossy Hollywood film, but in terms of subject matter and its approach, it is a lot like what followed in the ‘70s, like ‘Five Easy Pieces’ and ‘King of Marvin Gardens.’ It had that independent kind of feeling to it.”

For the record:

12:00 a.m. May 8, 2005 For The Record
Los Angeles Times Tuesday May 03, 2005 Home Edition Main News Part A Page 2 National Desk 1 inches; 38 words Type of Material: Correction
“The Graduate” -- A Sunday Calendar article on the movie “The Graduate” quoted a line from the movie as “Mrs. Robinson, are you trying to seduce me?” The correct quote is, “Mrs. Robinson, you’re trying to seduce me.”
For The Record
Los Angeles Times Sunday May 08, 2005 Home Edition Sunday Calendar Part E Page 2 Calendar Desk 1 inches; 40 words Type of Material: Correction
“The Graduate” -- An article on the movie “The Graduate” last Sunday quoted a line from the movie as “Mrs. Robinson, are you trying to seduce me?” The correct quote is, “Mrs. Robinson, you’re trying to seduce me.... Aren’t you?”

The restored print of “The Graduate” will be unveiled Friday at the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences’ Samuel Goldwyn Theater. Nichols, who received the Directors Guild of America Award as well as the best director Oscar for the film, will be the special guest, joined by producer Lawrence (Larry) Turman and actress Katharine Ross.

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“The Graduate” made a star of Dustin Hoffman, who to that point had appeared on stage, in one movie and in a few PBS dramatic specials. Short and far from movie-star handsome, Hoffman heralded the arrival of the nontraditional leading man in movies. He perfectly captured the fear, clumsiness and ambivalence of Benjamin, a recent college graduate who returns home clueless about how to maneuver in the adult world. A family friend famously tells him to get into “plastics.” But instead he finds himself in the arms -- and bed -- of Mrs. Robinson (Anne Bancroft, in her Oscar-nominated turn), a cynical family friend.

“Mrs. Robinson, are you trying to seduce me?” a quivering Benjamin says during their first encounter.

Benjamin’s life becomes even more complicated when he falls in love with Mrs. Robinson’s beautiful daughter, Elaine (Ross).

The film was nominated for seven Oscars, including Robert Surtees’ cinematography and Buck Henry and Calder Willingham’s screenplay adaptation of Charles Webb’s novel. Even a very young Richard Dreyfuss pops up in one scene.

Hoffman and Bancroft were actually third choices for their roles. Warren Beatty and Robert Redford were originally approached for the role of Benjamin. Nichols was interested in French actress Jeanne Moreau for Mrs. Robinson. Even Doris Day was offered the role, but turned it down.

“I find that it’s still quite contemporary,” Crisp says. “There are only a couple of things in it that date it to its period. One is a shot of bystanders who have long, shaggy hair and kind of a miniskirt on the girl. The other actually is the bus that they [Benjamin and Elaine] get on in the film, which may have been an ancient bus even then. It is kind of a shock when they run over to it. That was the first time I thought of it as a film that’s almost 40 years old.”

The library of Embassy Pictures, which released “The Graduate” in 1967, has passed through several hands since then. “The Graduate” rights are split between MGM, Studio Canal and Sony.

“A little over a year ago, Sony and MGM needed a new high-definition transfer, so I approached Studio Canal requesting information on it. ... No one had actually gone back to the original negative in some time. Since we didn’t have any good primary material to do a high-definition transfer, we all agreed to look at the original and assess the state of it,” Crisp says.

Fortunately, the original negative had been properly stored and was in good shape. “There were a few tears that we needed to address and we replaced those sections,” Crisp says. “It wasn’t really faded, which is a problem for films from 40 years ago. The work was pretty straightforward. I screened it for Nichols a few weeks ago in New York and he seemed to like what he saw and heard.”

*

‘The Graduate’

Where: Samuel Goldwyn Theater, Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, 8949 Wilshire Blvd., Beverly Hills

When: 8 p.m. Friday

Price: $5 for general admission; $3 for academy members

Contact: (310) 247-3600 or go to www.oscars.org


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