2007_09_arts_graduatedvd.jpgThe Graduate
(directed by Mike Nichols)

If you're looking for a cultural touchstone for the '60s, or even one of the first great uses of pop music on a movie soundtrack, you don't need to search much further than The Graduate, Mike Nichols' dark comedy from 1967. A coming-of-age story that's spawned a Broadway adaptation and a poorly conceived movie continuation, The Graduate turns 40 this year (just like the Summer of Love) and in honor, MGM has put out a new special edition DVD.

A very young, nebbish yet handsome Dustin Hoffman plays Benjamin Braddock, a recent college graduate who returns home for the summer and finds himself embroiled in an affair with his father's business partner's wife, Mrs. Robinson (Anne Bancroft as the original MILF) just as he's falling for her daughter, Elaine (the incredibly lovely Katherine Ross). Hapless Benjamin's disconnect with the adults around him ("One word: Plastics") still rings delightfully true, though his naiveté about the ways and wants of women does seem dated. As EW's review points out, Hoffman was an bold casting choice since the character in the book was described as WASPy and Hoffman's Semitic features seemed hardly leading man material at the time. Good thing Nichols had other plans for the part besides Robert Redford, because it seems impossible to imagine any one else in the role. Rent the film for the extensive commentaries from Hoffman, Ross, and Oscar-winner Nichols as well as the chance to fall in love all over again with Simon and Garfunkel's classic music.

Other DVDs coming this week to a video store near you include Sarah Polley's directorial debut with Julie Christie Away From Her, the Debra Messing miniseries The Starter Wife, a special edition version of John Woo's Face/Off as well as box sets of last year's Grey's Anatomy and Fraggle Rock season three.