The Graduate – tape 36

This tape opens with the end of the Nine O’Clock News, and some South East news. There’s a story about an accident black spot in Harrow Weald where “A runaway mobile crane collided with three cars before plowing into the side of a house in the High Street.” That’s one heck of a black spot.

Runaway Mobile Crane

There’s a trailer for A Sort of Innocence.

Then, The Graduate, Mike Nichols’ comedy about a young man who has an affair with an older woman.

Anne Bancroft is brilliant. I’m not so sure about Dustin Hoffman, as his character, supposed to be this high-flying college graduate, is so hopeless at everything that he becomes ridiculous.

But he does eventually succumb to Mrs Robinson’s seduction, meeting her in hotel rooms for bouts of joyless sex, and little conversation.

Things get more complicated when she forbids him from dating her daughter Elaine, played by Katherine Ross. He’s happy to comply, but his parents see her as a perfect match for him, so he’s bullied into taking her out. In fact, he’s bullied into doing most things in this movie.

So he tries to ensure the date is a disaster, driving recklessly, and taking her to that staple of all 60/70s movies, the strip club. But he can’t keep up the boorish act, and eventually has to be nice to her.

Katherine Ross

It’s slightly embarrassing when he takes her to the hotel he uses for his trysts with her mother, and everyone recognises him as a regular.

But when Mrs Robinson orders him never to see Elaine again, threatening to tell her he decides to call her bluff. There’s a remarkable shot when he’s about to tell her, and Mrs Robinson is framed behind her in the doorway.

Ross turns around, the shot pulls focus quickly to Bancroft, who then exits the frame, Ross turns back slowly, and the focus pulls really slowly back to her face as the realization hits. I’ve not seen focus used like that very often.

The Graduate shot framing

Then, after a montage of him moping around, stalking Elaine, he announces to his parents that he’s going to marry Elaine.

He’s basically a stalker, and sex pest. And no amount of Simon and Garfunkel on the soundtrack can deflect us from this realization.

So he decamps to Berkeley, where she’s a student, and hangs around there, pretending to accidentally bump into her. Then she angrily confronts him in his rented room, accusing him of raping her mother. He explains it wasn’t like that, then she calms down, and suddenly, he’s asking her to marry him, and she’s all like “I dunno, maybe” leading to a charming montage of Hoffman asking her if she’s ready to go and get a blood test every moment of the day. Oh wait, I said charming when I meant freakishly annoying.

Then, out of the blue, Elaine’s father, Mr Robinson turns up. He’s played by the wonderful Murray Hamilton, and he tells Hoffman he’s never to see Elaine again.

Murray Hamilton

Cue yet another bout of stalking. Hoffman certainly does a lot of driving in this movie. But when he goes to the Robinson’s house, he’s too late, and Elaine is off somewhere getting ready to marry her actual boyfriend. Which leads up to the film’s second most famous scene (after the seduction) where he rushes to the church, bangs on a window a bit, and for reasons surpassing understanding, Katherine Ross dumps her brand new husband to run out with him and get on the bus.

It’s directed as a happy ending, and yet as soon as the happy couple are sitting on the bus (and how the hell did they get the prime back seats on such a full bus) the film starts playing The Sound of Silence once more, and Hoffman suddenly starts looking angsty again.

I hate everyone in this film. It could only be improved if the bus journey culminated with Dustin Hoffman dying of consumption like he did in Midnight Cowboy.

BBC Genome: BBC One – 6th January 1987 – 21:30

After this, recording continues, and there’s a trailer for Home and Away, not the Australian soap but a documentary about women who have moved overseas.

Then, there’s the start of Save a Life Special in which Alan Maryon Davis demonstrates general life-saving techniques. A few minutes into this programme, there’s suddenly a random burst of Channel 4 testcard, which then stops, and the programme continues.

BBC Genome: BBC One – 6th January 1987 – 23:15

There’s a look ahead to programmes on Wednesday.

Wednesday Night Programmes 7th Jan 1987

Then, recording continues with the prog-rock band Yes live in concert, 9012 Live.

It’s remarkable for two facts. First, the aesthetics – lighting, staging and costume – is almost indistinguishable from the Duran Duran concert I watched a while back. It couldn’t have been made at any other time than the 80s.

The second remarkable fact is that it was directed by Steven Soderbergh, before his breakthrough into features with Sex, Lies and Videotape. That at least explains the frequent cutaways to old film from the 50s and 60s.

I have to admit I’m not a big fan of Yes. I was a big fan of their early album covers, by Roger Dean, but I never really got into their music. I quite liked Owner of a Lonely Heart, though.

Trevor Rabin looks far too much like Nigel Tufnel for me to take it seriously.

Trevor Rabin

BBC Genome: BBC One – 6th January 1987 – 23:25

There’s a weather forecast after this, then Lorna Stevens wishes us a warm and safe night as BBC1 closes down.

BBC Clock 6th Jan 1987

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5 comments

  1. BBC1 closes down – at four minutes to midnight! The 80s were another world, weren’t they? But even then, change had revolutionised TV in the UK. My earliest recollections of TV are of Good Morning Britain in the early 80s, but as I was a small kid, I didn’t realise that this was an innovation; it was normal for there to be television at 8am in the morning. I simply had no conception that less than 20 years before, programming started in mid-morning.

    1. Not only that, but it would frequently stop for hours in the afternoon, between the end of schools programmes, and the start of Play School. Even in my collection, which starts in late 1984, I’ve got a couple of tapes which start recording in the mid afternoon on BBC2 with ‘Pages From Ceefax’ because the channel just stopped for a couple of hours in the afternoon. Truly another world.

  2. At least you noticed The Graduate doesn’t have a happy ending, surprising how many think it does and is sweet and uplifting when it really isn’t. It’s a very unhappy film all round.

    1. I think that’s probably why I disliked it so much. I’m reacting against its image, rather than what the film actually is. I think the film is good, it’s just not the kind of thing I tend to enjoy.

  3. It’s amazing how many programmes there have been called Home and Away that pre-dates the Australian soap opera. There was a Granada series of the same name from 1972 as well, and I have come across other programmes with that name as well. I also saw on a 1981 listing, a series on BBC 2 called Neighbours.

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