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Thursday, June 16, 2005


I have never seen "The Graduate."

I've never seen lots of movies in my time, but "The Graduate" was supposed to be one of THE movies of MY generation.

In the summer of '68, I was at a Christian summer camp. I was at a theological crossroads that I will explain some other time. In any case, the folks at this particular facility considered themselves more enlightened than some other Christian folks. So, while other church groups forbade ever seeing ANY movie (except, I'd guess, "The Ten Commandments" and "The Robe"), this body was "liberal" enough to permit the viewing of some movies. Disney movies, which, at the time, was synonymous with "family movies."

I wondered aloud about what the meaning of the line "Jesus loves you more than you will know," in the Simon & Garfunkel song Mrs. Robinson, which was featured in the movie. "Ooh, no, you don't want to see THAT," one of the adults proclaimed. So, I didn't. My views on the world evolved, and I later decided that it would be all right to see "The Graduate."

I have The Graduate soundtrack, an odd item that, with all those somewhat schlocky Dave Grusin instrumentals, and at least three variations on Mrs. Robinson. And I love the extended version of Scarbourough Fair/(Canticle). That album (9 weeks at #1) and Bookends (7 weeks at #1, also featuring Mrs. Robinson) both dominated the charts in the spring of 1968.

I have seen movie clips such as "Plastics" and "Mrs. Robinson, you're trying to seduce me, aren't you?", the latter delivered by Dustin Hoffman to Anne Bancroft. I probably saw them on the Oscars or one of those American Film Institute shows. Not so incidentally, there's another AFI program, on Movie Quotes, Tuesday, June 21 on CBS at 8 p.m. EDT. Both quotes are on the list of the 400 nominated quotes, and I wouldn't be a bit surprised if one or both appear on the final list of 100. Yet, somehow, in nearly 40 years,I've never actually seen The Graduate, though I've watched the last scene, on the bus.

The movie has been on TV, available on video, and for the last year, on DVD. Anne Bancroft, who died June 6 of uterine cancer, expressed surprise that The Graduate is the movie by which she was most remembered, rather than The Miracle Worker (1962), which I also haven't seen. But I have seen her in The Turning Point (1977), Agnes of God (1985), How to Make an American Quilt (1995), G.I. Jane (1997), and probably others, plus I heard her in Antz (1998).

Mel Brooks once said in a 60 Minutes interview that God gave him one great gift and that was Anne Bancroft. My condolences to Mel. So here's to you, Anne Bancroft: I'll go out and see The Graduate AND The Miracle Worker this summer.

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