Monday, November 25, 2013

The Graduate (Two-Disc Blu-ray/DVD Combo in Blu-ray Packaging) (1967)

The GraduateThe Graduate is a great film and I grow to love it more with each viewing. Everything is nearly perfect about it. The script, Mike Nichols' direction, the performances of Dustin Hoffman, Anne Bancroft and Katherine Ross, the music of Simon and Garfunkel. It's funny yet dramatic, moving and profound all at the same time. A very enjoyable film all around. Dustin Hoffman has rarely been better than in The Graduate, although he has certainly given many other fine performances (Midnight Cowboy, Rain Man, Kramer Vs. Kramer). However, even more than those pictures, Hoffman will always be remembered for The Graduate and his portrayal of an awkward young man trying to get a hold on his life.

Also worth noting in particular is the direction of Mike Nichols. He truly gives the film a unique visual style to make it an experience rather than just a comedy/drama. Note the opening credits with Hoffman on an airport moving sidewalk set to the tune of Simon and Garfunkel's "The Sound of Silence". Nichols' uses cuts very interestingly in several scenes such as the scene where Benjamin jumps up on his raft in the pool, and lands in bed with Mrs. Robinson. He also uses zooms to great effect throughout the film. Nichols' Best Director Oscar for this film was well-deserved. I think that Hoffman's performance should have won also, as well as the screenplay by Calder Willingham and Buck Henry.

One other thing that I must mention is that The Graduate absolutely must been seen in its original aspect ratio! If you're not watching a widescreen version, then you're not watching The Graduate. The film was shot in the Panavision process with an aspect ratio of 2.35:1. Mike Nichols makes wonderful use of the 2.35:1 frame, so the film will be absolutely botched in pan and scan. If you watch The Graduate in full-screen pan and scan, you're really, really missing out. The visual impact of the film will be irreparably damaged.

The DVD is adequate, but this film deserves much better. The disc is labeled a special edition, but it's really too skimpy to be that. At very least you're getting a widescreen version of the film. However, the transfer is not enhanced for 16:9 televisions. What we need is a fully remastered 16:9 transfer which would be immensely beneficial. The picture quality is fair, but could be so much better. It's really stunning what difference a brand new remastered 16:9 transfer can make for an older film like this. Just look at the new DVD of One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest. The film also deserves better supplemental materials. A better documentary and a commentary by the filmmakers would be great. A seperate commentary by Dustin Hoffman would be even better. I'm convinced that someday The Graduate will receive a worthy DVD edition, and I will wait until then to purchase it.

Looks like MGM finally is giving "The Graduate" a grownup DVD.

The Mike Nichols film has suffered through the DVD era so far, represented by a series of double-dip issues that perpetuated the same sorry source materials: grainy picture, grating audio -the typical first-generation DVD blahs.

Here comes "The Graduate: 40th Anniversary Edition," due Sept. 11. Fox's specs show 2.35:1 widescreen with DTS and Dolby Surround. This appears to be in true widescreen. (The previous DVDs' version apparently was created by throwing letterboxing atop the full-screen version. Seems the guy who was so big on plastics got into the home video business.)

Check out the new extras:

* Commentary by Dustin Hoffman and Katherine Ross

* Commentary by director Nichols and Steven Soderbergh

* Retrospective documentary that interviews "Graduate" write Buck Henry, producer Lawrence Turman, Richard Roeper and some random others.

* "Coming of Age: The Making of The Graduate" featurette

* "Would You Like Me To Seduce You: The Seduction Scene Revisited" featurette

Along with some odds and ends ported over from the older discs.

Disc 2 has a pleasant surprise: Simon & Garfunkle's soundtrack, in CD form.

I'll be revisiting the film for Hoffman's sonic boom of a breakout performance; the "Mrs. Robinson" song and seduction scene; and Ross' beautifully naturalistic presence. Koo-koo-ka-choo.

Buy The Graduate (Two-Disc Blu-ray/DVD Combo in Blu-ray Packaging) (1967) Now

They re-release the Graduate on DVD in 2005 only to distribute the EXACT SAME product only without a very attractive interface and special features, but with the same crappy picture and sound quality!

I give the film "The Graduate" from 1967 as many stars as any ratings measure can grant, but this DVD is a very poor represntation that is disrespectful of the genuine classic piece of cinematic art and cultural revolutionary comedy-piece that this movie was and always will be!

It's a shame. The picture is still grainy and the "widescreen" is still a full-screen image with black bars at top & bottom and NOT a true 16X9 formatted image for widescreen televisions! This true masterpiece of film demands nothing short of the best optimization that current-day technology can (and should) provide! Anything less is completely unacceptable! I'm sorry, but this is a travesy. The Graduate deserves the most pristine image and sound quality that the DVD format can give and viewers should demand nothing short of that high-standard of excellence.

The sound is in a lousy mono and the picture is fuzzy at times, desaturated, grainy, noisy, and compressed too much. The producers of this DVD obviously aren't die-hard fans and did a half-a** job here. Most fans of this film would gladly pay a few extra dollars for a better version, so why go cheap on such a great classic is beyond me?!? That's just a moronic business decision of a cheap corporation that doesn't know art from a hole in the ground, always cutting corners to salvage every penny. For shame!

I wish the Criterion Collection would remaster the Graduate and finally do it right! Amen.

Read Best Reviews of The Graduate (Two-Disc Blu-ray/DVD Combo in Blu-ray Packaging) (1967) Here

The previous reviews posted here are all based on what the reviewers HOPED would be on the new 40th Anniversary and raised some questions. I can answer most of the concerns having watched the DVD this week.

As for how important this film is, let's just say it defined a generation in the 1970s. And nearly anyone in either high school or college (or a recent "graduate" entering the working world) when the film was released can quote verbatim important lines and whole scenes. Try "Are you trying to seduce me Mrs. Robinson?" or even the mention of one word ""Plastics!". I have only watched the film (on VHS) once since my original viewing on the big screen forty years ago. Of course I remember many of the great moments (the finale at the church, for one) and the Simon & Garfunkel soundtrack. (Dave Grusin wrote the incidental music.). I did not see the "25th Anniversary" reissue. So much of the supplemental material was new to me.

First off the transfer is great! It must have been remastered. And yes, it's in Wide Screen. It HAS to be. The hardest video to pan and scan was always this film as Director Mike Nichols spaced his characters at the far sides of the screen. I watched this on an 25 year old 26 in TV and it was still perfect.

Okay, now the bonus features. It's a 2 "disc" set because one disc is a CD of FOUR songs from the film. So it's really more of a CD single.", That's fine with me, but most of us have the music in our collection.

There are TWO commentary tracks: One is Hoffman and Ross talking. Since Ross doesn't even appear in the film until almost half way through, she has little to say for a while. And there are long periods where Hoffman says nothing so you get to hear the soundtrack dialogue at that point. The second commentary is with Director Mike Nichols and Director Stephen Soderburgh. It more that SS is interviewing Nichols. And Nichols is very outgoing here. Where I found a small problem is that the conversation often does not match what is on the screen. During the "Seduction" scene I expected to hear details about the set up. But Nichols was talking about Screen Tests or something else. I have not made it all the way through the commentaries. Too much other good stuff here.

There is a NEW 25-minute documentary: "Students of the Graduate" which has interviews with young directors who learned techniques from Nichols direction. The Directors of "Little Miss Sunshine" were ones I remember. It's interesting. There is a short 8-minute one on "the Seduction" as well. This appears to be new.

The other featurettes are from the 25th Anniversary release. One is obvious as it's title is "The Graduate at 25". You can see from the excerpted scenes how poor the 25th Anniversary print was. And what I found MOST interesting was a "One on One" featurette with Dustin Hoffman which runs 22 minutes. It was recorded for the 25th similar comments appear in the "Graduate at 25" feature but Hoffman tells GREAT stories and I was on the floor laughing!

ONE of the tywo screen tests that Ross did with Charles Grodin is included in the "at 25" featurette but the announced "two screen tests with introduction" are not on the final DVD. NEITHER is the "Coming of Age: The Making of the Graduate" one.

So there is lots to watch here and moments to remember. I, for one, loved this set and the special featurettes which rarely, though sometimes, repeat themselves briefing out things you missed and make you want to playback some scenes.

This should be a hot release for September!

Steve Ramm

"Anything Phonographic"

Want The Graduate (Two-Disc Blu-ray/DVD Combo in Blu-ray Packaging) (1967) Discount?

This movie was groundbreaking when released, and it is now a classic. The screenplay by Buck Henry is great, Mike Nichols did an outstanding job directing, and all the key parts were cast and acted perfectly. The great Simon & Garfunkel music helped to make the film what it became. AFI ranked it #7 on its list of the top 100 American movies, and I agree. I think it is that good. I saw it on TV when I was teenager, and have rented it or seen it on TV several times since then. It has always been one of my favorite films. I even read the novel by Charles Webb (to which the movie stayed pretty close).

Unfortunately, this DVD does not do it justice. The main problem is the audio. The sound track is just ever so slightly out of sync with the picture throughout the entire film. In one scene, when Benjamin's mother confronts him about his nocturnal activities, the problem is extremely noticeable. The sound is mixed badly throughout, especially during the second half of the film, when Benjamin starts seeing Elaine (Katherine Ross). Crucial dialog is drowned out by sound effects. By the end, you have to crank up the volume on your TV to wake-up-the-neighbors levels just to hear what the characters are saying. This is inexcusable. I also note, from an earlier review, that the laserdisk version had a director's commentary, so why doesn't the DVD?

Some day, they'll put out a good DVD version of the movie, until then we'll have to be content with VHS and Turner Classic Movies.

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