Critically, it hasn’t been a controversial movie—like, say, “Bonnie and Clyde.” Two or three reviewers greeted it with mild enthusiasm; the rest, even hard-to-please critics, were wild about it. It won five of the seven Golden Globe Awards (Best Comedy, Best Director, Best Actress in a Comedy, and Best Male and Female Newcomers), was nominated for seven Academy Awards, and won the Oscar for Best Director. It also seems to be one of those propitious works of art which support the theory that we are no longer necessarily two publics—the undiscerning and the demanding—for whom separate kinds of entertainment must be provided.
Stanley Kauffmann wrote in the , “ ‘The Graduate’ gives some substance to the contention that American films are coming of age—of our age. It was the subject of an essay question, on pre-marital sex, in a final exam at an Eastern women’s college. Its sensational profits suggest that Hollywood can have both its cake and its art.
Benjamin, first miserable and then perfectly frantic through these stampeding events, is saved only by the arrival of Mr. R., and he becomes flustered into a hasty exit when various attendants greet him as Mr. Back in the car, Elaine asks him if he is having an affair with someone.
He acknowledges an involvement with a married woman (“with a son”) but says it is decidedly a thing of the past.
In its first six months, it grossed more than thirty-five million dollars in the nine hundred and fifty theatres—more than two million of it in New York.