13 Things You (Probably) Didn’t Know About ‘The Graduate’
December 20, 2017
Dustin Hoffman in The Graduate (1967)
In celebration of The Graduate’s 50th Anniversary this December, HDNET MOVIES will be airing the classic movie throughout the month, including on its actual release date, December 22nd. Check out 13 things you (probably) didn’t know about the acclaimed film:
1. PRODUCER LAWRENCE TURMAN WAS TURNED DOWN BY EVERY MOVIE STUDIO FOR ALMOST TWO YEARS
They thought the story wasn’t funny and/or they had never heard of director Mike Nichols. Embassy Pictures ended up agreeing to fund the film, but it was after Nichols became famous for directing the controversial Academy-Award®-winning film Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?
2. DIRECTOR MIKE NICHOLS DIDN’T CAST ROBERT REDFORD BECAUSE HE WAS TOO GOOD LOOKING
Redford really wanted to play Benjamin Braddock, but after his screentest, Nichols realized he would never be believable as a loser. When Redford questioned this, Nichols said, “O.K. Have you ever struck out with a girl?” and all Redford had to say was, “What do you mean?” That answer sealed the deal for the director – Redford definitely wasn’t loser material.
3. SCREENWRITER BUCK HENRY HAD LITTLE TO NO SCREENWRITING EXPERIENCE
Henry was an actor who came from an improvisational theater background. When Mike Nichols asked him to write the screenplay, he had only written for a few TV shows (which he also acted in). He went on to win the BAFTA Film Award for Best Screenplay and earned an Oscar® nomination for Best Writing, Screenplay Based on Material from Another Medium. He had to share the honor with Calder Willingham, who had written the first screenplay that both Nichols and Turman turned down.
Anne Bancroft and Dustin Hoffman in The Graduate (1967)
4. THE LEG ON THE PROMOTIONAL POSTER BELONGED TO LINDA GRAY, NOT ANNE BANCROFT
At the time, Gray was an unknown model. She said she was paid $25 for the use of her leg and thinks she was chosen because Bancroft was “absent that day.” Gray went on to star in Dallas as Sue Ellen Ewing and acted in several made-for-TV movies. Ironically, in 2001, she starred as Mrs. Robinson on the West End stage production of The Graduate.
5. RICHARD DREYFUSS HAD AN UNCREDITED ROLE IN THE MOVIE
Dreyfuss was a “Boarding House Resident,” and his line was, “Shall I get the cops? I’ll get the cops.” And who played the boarding house landlord? Actor Norman Fell, who ironically went on to play the landlord on the TV series Three’s Company ten years later.
6. SIMON & GARFUNKEL’S INFAMOUS SONG “MRS. ROBINSON” WAS NOT WRITTEN FOR THE MOVIE
It was originally titled “Mrs. Roosevelt,” for Eleanor Roosevelt, but director Mike Nichols loved it and asked to use it in the film. Paul Simon had written two other songs for the movie, but Nichols did not like either. The musical duo then presented him with this song, replacing the “Roosevelt” with “Robinson” and the rest is history.
7. IT TOOK TWO HOURS FOR MAKEUP TO GET DUSTIN HOFFMAN READY FOR HIS SCREENTEST
Hoffman walked in, dressed in black and pale as could be, The makeup crew worked on his eyebrows and nose shading. Going into the audition, Hoffman did not think he was right for the part and he left feeling even more uncertain, but Nichols knew from the moment he saw Hoffman on film that he was Benjamin Braddock.
8. GENE HACKMAN WAS FIRED FROM THE CAST THREE WEEKS INTO REHEARSALS
Hackman, who was a friend and former roommate of Hoffman, had been cast to play Mr. Robinson, but Nichols did not think he looked old enough and let him go after three weeks. It ended up working out for Hackman. He instead accepted the role of Buck Barrow in Bonnie and Clyde and earned his first Oscar® nomination for Best Supporting Actor.
Katharine Ross and Dustin Hoffman in The Graduate (1967)
9. ANNE BANCROFT AND KATHARINE ROSS NEVER SPEAK TO EACH ON SCREEN
Bancroft and Ross played mother and daughter, yet they only appeared in one scene together when Benjamin reveals to Elaine that he has been sleeping with her mother. Mrs. Robinson can be seen through the crack of the door, but she does not say anything.
10. MEL BROOKS CONVINCED ANNE BANCROFT TO PLAY MRS. ROBINSON
When Nichols offered Bancroft the role, several people cautioned her against it. Her past roles were all very innocent, and this would be the opposite and could possibly ruin her career. Brooks, on the other hand, liked the script and persuaded her to do it. The two were married, and Brooks was a respected filmmaker, so she trusted his advice. She earned an Oscar® nomination for the role, though she went onto resent that it also ended up overshadowing all of her other work.
11. MIKE NICHOLS AND DUSTIN HOFFMAN TOURED COLLEGE CAMPUSES TO PROMOTE THE FILM
Producer Joe Levine worried that the film was going to bomb after a group of his friends had a negative reaction to it on opening night, so he sent Nichols and Hoffman off to college campuses to build a “word-of-mouth audience.” It did not work because students just kept asking why the movie was not about Vietnam, however it turned out the film did really well on its own. It is the highest-grossing motion picture of 1967 and currently ranks at #22 of the all-time box office domestic grosses (adjusted for ticket price inflation).
Dustin Hoffman in The Graduate (1967)
12. DUSTIN HOFFMAN WAS ON UNEMPLOYMENT AFTER FILMING ‘THE GRADUATE’
Hoffman made $20,000 from The Graduate, but living expenses left him with $4,000. Once that ran out, he filed for unemployment and was photographed by Life magazine picking up his $55 check the same month the movie came out. For his next film, Midnight Cowboy, his salary was bumped up to $250,000 and he hired a business manager to handle his money.
13. GOSSIP COLUMNIST RADIE HARRIS PREDICTED HOFFMAN WOULD BE FAMOUS
After a sneak preview of the film in New York City, Harris saw Hoffman sneaking out of the theater and immediately recognized him. She went up to him, asked if he was ‘The Graduate,’ and told him, “Life is never going to be the same for you from this moment on.” It did not happen right away, but her premonition did come true within a few years.
On December 22nd, tune into HDNET MOVIES to honor the 50th Anniversary of The Graduate at 9/8c, and be sure to visit HDNETMOVIES.com for a complete listing of repeat air times, and much, much more.