Feb 25, 2016

The Graduate Revisited

This post on The Graduate (1967), starring gay ally Dustin Hoffman, finds lots of gay subtexts in the tale of the alienated young man who has an affair with his girlfriend's bored Establishment mother.

Gay symbolism aside, I didn't enjoy The Graduate.   It was too deadly serious.  Everyone was trying way too hard to be depressed.  And Benjamin Braddock was something of a twit.

Guess what?  It was supposed to be a comedy!

Find me one humorous scene in the gut-wrenching suburban angst!

Find me one joke!

Find me any way at all to read the final scene, when Benjamin and Elaine drive off into oblivion while Paul Simon sings "Hello darkness, my old friend..." as anything but depressing!

But at least we get so see a good deal of Dustin Hoffman's body.  He's naked often, and in at least one scene floating in a pool with a phallic beer can protruding from his crotch.

In 2000, Terry Johnson, a London playwright who specializes in the fictionalized meeting of historical characters (Alfred Einstein, Marilyn Monroe, Salvador Dali, Sigmund Freud), wrote a stage version of the original novel.

It opened in London, and ran for a respectable 380 performances on Broadway, with Jason Biggs as Benjamin Braddock, Alicia Silverstone as Elaine (the girlfriend), and Kathleen Turner as Mrs. Robinson (the older women).

The reviews were horrendous.

A mish-mash of iconic scenes from the movie, with new scenes that don't make any sense, characters stuck in the 1960s but with modern sensibilities, or stuck with 1960s sensibilities in the modern era.

The gay symbolism is gone.  But at least the homophobia of the original novel is gone, too (Benjamin no longer talks about assaulting "queers.")

Elaine is a dolt, Mrs. Robinson veers from skittish virgin to trollope, and Benjamin...well, he's still rather a twit.

I guess the main draw is Benjamin shirtless in bed, played by such hunks as Tom Carmen, Matthew Rhys, Eric Pierce, Jerry Hall, and Brad Burgess.

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