[[quoteright:350:http://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/The_Graduate,_Leg_Shot.jpg]]
[-[[caption-width-right:350:"[[MrsRobinson Mrs. Robinson,]] [[MemeticMutation you're trying to seduce me, aren't you?]]"]]-]

->''"I just want to say one word to you. Just one word. Plastics."''

''The Graduate'' is a 1967 film, directed by Creator/MikeNichols and based on Charles Webb's novel of the same title, about recent college graduate Benjamin Braddock's affair with the wife of his father's partner, MrsRobinson. Famous for being lauded as the first movie made for the (then) new Baby Boomer generation, prominently featuring Music/SimonAndGarfunkel music (most memorably the toe-tapper "Mrs. Robinson"), and sky-rocketing Creator/DustinHoffman to fame. It also contains ''many'' extremely memorable and oft lovingly parodied scenes and lines (particularly, "Mrs. Robinson, you're trying to seduce me" and the climax where Ben rescues Elaine from her wedding).

Disaffected college graduate Ben (Hoffman), with no idea what to do with his life and no guidance from his shallow parents or their shallow friends, passes his days drifting aimlessly. He begins a clandestine affair with the wife (Creator/AnneBancroft) of his father's business partner, who is always "Mrs. Robinson" to him. However, his parents have plans to match him up with Mrs. Robinson's daughter, Elaine (Katharine Ross). Ben and Mrs. Robinson both detest the idea for different reasons, and he has every intention of making Elaine hate him as much as possible... until the two hit it off.

The book has a sequel, ''Home School'', published 40 years after the release of the movie due to copyright issues.

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!!"Just one word: Tropes.":

* AbusiveParents: A somewhat uncommon take on this trope: Elaine's, and to a lesser extent Ben's, parents basically want to control the lives of their children, despite the latter being adults. This fits into the movie's broader theme of a confused youth exploited and betrayed by a cynical, corrupt older generation.
* AdaptationalAttractiveness: Inverted; in the book Ben is quite handsome, which makes Mrs. Robinson seem a good deal less desperate. In fact, Ben's awkwardness in general is artistic license by Nichols and Hoffman; Ben's character in the book is a prototypical Aryan goodboy athlete brimming with confidence and charisma (Creator/RobertRedford was the original choice to play the role). Dustin Hoffman's short stature, darker features, awkward clumsiness and insecurity (of which the affair with Mrs. Robinson is the chief catalyst in ridding him) are not present in the book.
* AdultsAreUseless: Ben's parents, specifically.
* AffablyEvil: Mrs. Robinson, who seduces Ben and calls the police on him later, but she retains her high-class cordiality.
* TheAlcoholic: While seducing Ben, Mrs. Robinson tells him she's one of these.
* AlliterativeName: Benjamin Braddock.
* AmbiguousDisorder: Benjamin has little social ability and little motivation to take part in society, largely due to the overbearing presences of the adults in his life. He was an outstanding student and athlete[[note]]though his sport was track-and-field, which requires less team interaction than other sports[[/note]], and his parents and their friends all adore him. He still has no friends and no idea what he wants to do with his life - after all, he prefers lying in his parents' swimming pool to going out into the Real World™.
* AmbiguousEnding[=/=]BittersweetEnding: The film ends on a rather ambiguous note, leaving the viewer to wonder [[spoiler:whether Benjamin and Elaine will live HappilyEverAfter or are doomed to repeat the mistakes of their parents and get caught in a loveless marriage.]]
** [[spoiler: The sequel of the book, ''Home School'', shows them as having a difficult but still consistent life with two kids.]]
* AndThenWhat: Their face at the ending suggests this is what happens between Ben and Elaine after they rebelled, and then they look down.
* AutoErotica: Mrs. Robinson tells Ben that Elaine was conceived in a Ford.
* BeneathTheMask: Mr. and Mrs. Robinson, when Benjamin crashes Elaine's wedding. Seeing their snarling, bestial faces during Benjamin's hammering on the window is what tips Elaine over and makes her cry out to Ben.
* BettyAndVeronica: An odd but fairly well-done contrast between [[spoiler:Mrs. Robinson and her daughter, Elaine.]]
* BetweenMyLegs: One of the most famous shots in cinema history.
* BigBad: Mrs. Robinson.
* BigHeroicRun: The ending involves a lot of running.
* BigWordShout: "ELAAAAIIIIIINE!"
* BrokenBird: Mrs. Robinson is a lonely, depressed, alcoholic housewife. Just try not to pity her with her tragic expression when she confesses her major was [[spoiler:art.]] She had to give up on her dreams when she got pregnant and married young, and she'd be the most sympathetic character in the story if not for the fact she apparently feels that since she had to suffer a ShotgunWedding because of her daughter, then she should force her daughter to have one too.
* CerebusSyndrome: The film's mood gets a bit more serious once Elaine discovers her mother's "relationship" with Ben.
* CharacterTics: That little sound Ben makes in the back of his throat when he's nervous.
* ChekhovsHobby: It's mentioned at his graduation party that Ben was captain of the track team in college. Golly, I wonder if he'll have to do some running later...
* ComingOfAgeStory: The film is about Benjamin trying to find himself and escape the suburban ennui that his parents and his girlfriend's parents have found themselves in. He more or less fails.
* CoolCar: The Alfa Romeo Spider, which became so associated with the movie that in later years there was a trim level called "Graduate".
* CreatorCameo: Buck Henry, who co-wrote the film's screenplay, appears as the hotel desk clerk.
* CringeComedy: A whole lot of it for Ben.
* DeadpanSnarker: Mrs. Robinson shows signs of this, especially in the scene where Ben tries to find Elaine at the house but she isn't there.
* DisposableFiance: That blond kid. [[spoiler:Elaine was actually already married to him, but he was still pretty disposable in the end.]]
* DrivesLikeCrazy:
** Ben does this toward the end, during that Berkeley-to-Pasadena-to-Berkeley-to-Santa Barbara shuttle.[[note]]It's a minimum of 1,000 miles in 24 hours, on what were much smaller highways with stops and signal lights in 1967. The US 99 and 101 freeways were barely half-bypassed at the time, and I-5 not even open yet.[[/note]]
** Not to mention his first date with Elaine.
--->'''Elaine:''' Do you always drive like this?
--->'''Ben:''' Yes!
* DullSurprise: Everyone in the film save Mrs. Robinson. But in ''this'' case, it's ''deliberate''.
* EarnYourHappyEnding: {{Deconstructed}}. Ben and Elaine both fought desperately to be with each other, and once they finally do and make their get away, they slowly realize AndThenWhat, pointing out that it may have been all for nothing.
* FalseRapeAccusation: While confronting Ben in Berkeley, Elaine says that her mother made one of these against him after their affair was discovered.
* FirstLawOfTragicomedies: The film becomes less comedic after Elaine learns of Ben's affair with her mother.
* FlatWhat: Practically Ben's CatchPhrase
* FreezeFrameBonus: When Mrs. Robinson first informs him of her sexual attraction (and availability) to him in Elaine's room, there are very brief flashes of her nude body.
* GenerationXerox: In the final scene, according to WordOfGod, this is what Ben and Elaine are realizing will eventually happen to them.
* GetOut:
** Elaine screams this at Ben after realizing that the older woman he had mentioned sleeping with was her mother.
** Also Mr. [=McCleery=], after one too many disturbances caused by Ben.
* TheGraduateHomageShot: Yes, [[Administrivia/RenamedTropes former]] [[TropeNamers Trope Namer]] [=Elaine=]. Also one of the most famous scenes in movie history.
* HeadDesk: Benjamin does an "I can't believe I'm doing this" variant against a hotel room wall just before he sleeps with Mrs. Robinson for the first time.
* HotAndCold: Mrs. Robinson, towards the beginning of the film.
* IllKillYou: Mr. Robinson, during Ben's wedding crash.
* InstantSeduction: Famously averted. Despite her good looks (and him being rather plain and heavily implied to be a virgin) Mrs. Robinson has to practically throw herself at Ben before he gets the idea, and then he runs off all scandalized. When he does agree to get a hotel room with her, he worries what his parents would think if they found out, is generally horribly nervous, and has to be talked into it again.
* JerkassFacade: Adopted by Ben on his first date with Elaine.
* JumpScare: Ben finding Mr. Robinson waiting for him inside his Berkeley apartment jolts him from his happy mood and causes him to scream mid-whistle.
* KafkaKomedy: The entire plot is a Kafka Komedy since any and all actions he makes are against authority figures but he never intends to do anything bad. He begins the movie loved by those around him and by the end of the movie he's despised by almost everyone who once liked him.
* KarmaHoudini: Mrs. Robinson, [[spoiler:save for getting slapped by Elaine during the wedding crash]]. On the other hand, her husband does tell Ben that they're going to get a divorce (which, given the era, will most likely make her into a pariah among their social circle). And she's presumably lost her daughter's love and affection forever.
* KavorkaMan: Ben is plain, awkward, unemployed, with no prospects or ambition for getting them. And yet a mother and daughter fight over and both throw their lives away for him. (Even Dustin Hoffman, during his audition, thought it was unlikely.)
* LadyDrunk: Mrs. Robinson, of course.
* {{Landlord}}: Mr. [=McCleery=], who runs the rooming house Ben stays at in Berkeley. He's played by Norman Fell, who a decade later would achieve great popularity on TV as a different landlord character: [[Series/ThreesCompany Mr. Roper]].
* LastNameBasis:
** Mrs. Robinson's first name is never revealed. FridgeBrilliance when you realize that she ''really is nothing more than Mr. Robinson's wife''.
** For that matter, we never learn Mr. Robinson's first name, or those of Ben's parents.
* LeaveTheCameraRunning: How long are they sitting on that bus, slowly realizing they have no idea what they will do next, having burned all their bridges behind them? Nichols literally left the camera running without warning the actors.
* LikeASonToMe: Early in the film, Mr. Robinson has a heart-to-heart with Ben where he calls him this, and then offers him the fatherly advice to "sow a few wild oats, have a good time with the girls, and so forth". This, minutes after his wife has (unbeknownst to him) offered herself to Ben.
* LoveAtFirstSight: Ben and Elaine: one date which gets off to a very rocky start, then they share burgers and life stories in a drive-in restaurant, then some uncomfortable truths are aired, and months later he's still willing to drive up to Berkeley to chase after her. Hardly a day after they have an argument, they're talking about marriage, and their passion seems to go strong for the rest of the movie — not counting the last seven seconds. Granted Ben and Elaine fall for each other very quickly but its still not at first sight. Especially since its implied in an earlier scene that they knew each other before their date.
* AManIsAlwaysEager: Averted. Ben is quite shy and scandalized by the idea, and has to be talked into it. The woman in question was the wife of his father's business partner...
* ManipulativeBitch: Mrs. Robinson. Once TheReveal is made and Ben tries to win back Elaine, he stumbles across Mrs. Robinson first, who explains that a) Elaine is arranged to be married, b) the ceremony is in a matter of days, and c) she's ''called the cops on him'' for breaking and entering. Gee, y'think maybe she doesn't want the two kids to get together?
* MaybeEverAfter: So, what happens to Ben and Elaine?
* MayDecemberRomance: Not exactly romance, but Mrs. Robinson wants to regain her youth, and Ben wants to sleep with her... at least till he falls for her daughter...
* MoodWhiplash: The film is a satirical comedy up until the scene where Elaine discovers the truth about her mother and Ben. Things get considerably heavier then.
* MouthingTheProfanity: When the wedding is crashed in the climax, Elaine's mother, father and almost-husband are clearly seen mouthing profanities.
* MrsRobinson: The [[TropeNamers Trope Namer]].
* MyBelovedSmother: Mrs. Robinson becomes a rather twisted version of this vis-à-vis Elaine.
%%* NewHollywood
* NoRomanticResolution: While the romance is implied, some are of the opinion that the relationship is ultimately going to fail. Will it? Who knows, it doesn't tell us.
* NowWhat: At the end of the movie, after Benjamin rescues Elaine from her wedding and they flee on a bus, the camera holds on them for an uncomfortably long time, emphasizing the "now what?" nature of the ending. A play and a (separate) movie attempt to tell what happened right after the end and a generation later, respectively.
* OfCourseImNotAVirgin: Attempted and failed:
-->'''Mrs. Robinson:''' Benjamin, is this your first time?
-->'''Ben:''' Is this - what?
-->'''Mrs. Robinson:''' It is, isn't it? It is your first time.
-->'''Ben:''' That's a laugh, Mrs. Robinson. That's really a laugh. Ha ha.
-->'''Mrs. Robinson:''' You can admit that, can't you?
-->'''Ben:''' Are you kidding?
-->'''Mrs. Robinson:''' It's nothing to be ashamed of -, ''etc.''
* PerpetualExpression: Ben in the below mentioned montage. His expression changes maybe once.
* PlayingGertrude: Anne Bancroft was 36 (only six years older than Dustin Hoffman) when this was made.
* PleaseDumpMe: Benjamin, under orders from Mrs. Robinson, tries to get her daughter Elaine to lose interest in him by taking her to a strip club on a date.
* PlotPoweredStamina: Ben spends the last portion of the movie running like hell to stop his beloved's wedding, basically power-jogging nonstop for ages with only a pause to make a phone call. Nicely led up to throughout the film with repeated mentions of Ben's position in college as captain of the track team.
* PopStarComposer: Featuring songs by Music/SimonAndGarfunkel.
* POVCam: Used in the scuba-gear scene, along with VaderBreath.
* PrecisionFStrike: When Mr. Braddock confronts Ben about his failure to apply for graduate school:
-->'''Mr. Braddock:''' Look, I think it's a very good thing that a young man, after he's done some very good work, should have a chance to relax and enjoy himself, lie around and drink beer and so on. But after a few weeks, I'd believe that person would want to take some stock in himself and his situation and ''start to think about getting off his ass!''
* {{Prelap}}: When Benjamin is in the bottom of a pool, but you hear him having a phone conversation with Mrs. Robinson in the following scene.
* RaceForYourLove: Ben, on his way to the wedding.
* RealSongThemeTune: Simon and Garfunkel's "The Sound of Silence". Also "Scarborough Fair" and "April Come She Will".
* TheReveal: When Elaine finds out just who that older woman was. Awkward.
* RuleOfSymbolism: Ben racing down the street to the church is shot with an ultra-wide lens, making him appear to be running in place.
* RunawayBride: Man, those people on that bus must have been so confused.
* SadTimesMontage: Set to Simon and Garfunkel, of course. Features mostly clips of Ben floating around in a pool and jumping into bed repeatedly with MILF Mrs. Robinson, one might think that this should be a GoodTimesMontage. However, the music is sad, Ben's facial expression almost never changes from one of lost boredom, and the general idea conveyed is that he's just drifting with no idea what to do with himself or his life, lost in a sea of easy-on-the-ears folk rock angst. (Another, even sadder one comes after Elaine discovers Ben's affair with her mother and leaves for Berkeley.)
* SatelliteLoveInterest: Elaine. Sure, she's gorgeous -- she's played by Katharine Ross, after all -- but we never really learn much of anything about her; indeed, her status as ForbiddenFruit per Mrs. Robinson's orders seems to be the primary source of Ben's attraction to her.
* SayMyName:
** ''"ELAINE!... ELAINE!... ELAINE!... ELAINE!... ELAINE!... ELAINE!..."''
** ''"BEEEEEEEEEEEEEEN!"''
* SexlessMarriage: At one point Mrs. Robinson reveals to Ben that she and her husband have separate rooms.
* ShesGotLegs: Mrs. Robinson, rather famously. In the scene from which the famous poster image shown at the top of this page was taken, Ben was actually starting to leave - then Mrs. Robinson decided to put her stockings back on... (Incidentally, those actually aren't Anne Bancroft's legs on the poster. Linda Gray, aka [[Series/{{Dallas}} Sue Ellen Ewing]], was the leg double.)
** Not to mention the initial seduction scene; see BetweenMyLegs, above.
* ShotgunWedding: Mr. and Mrs. Robinson's wedding was one of these.
* ShutUpHannibal: When Elaine decides to be a RunawayBride, her mother reminds her that she is already married. The answer has to be the shortest and hence most powerful ShutUpHannibal:
--> '''Mrs. Robinson:''' ''Elaine, [[YouAreTooLate it's too late]]!''
--> '''Elaine:''' ''Not for'' '''me!'''
* SmugSnake: Mrs. Robinson.
* SoWhatDoWeDoNow: The last seven seconds of the movie. Their faces say it all.
* SpeakNowOrForeverHoldYourPeace: He's a bit late, but hey, what's too late? "It's too late!" "Not for me!"
* StacysMom: Mrs. Robinson is easily a candidate for this one, given the memetic line that sprang forth from it.
* StalkingIsLove: Ben is guilty of this. He watches Elaine leave for Berkeley behind the bushes, then goes to Berkley to be near her, then chases a bus to bug her as she's on her way to a date with another guy, despite the fact that this entire time she kind of hates him.
* StarCrossedLovers:
** Ben and Elaine. Heck, the kid had an affair with her mother, was accused of rape, and her parents [[spoiler: forced her into marrying another guy]] to keep them apart. Thanksgiving's going to be awkward.
** Except for the fact Elaine is the girl ''his parents picked out for him''.
** And the ending suggests [[spoiler:they may not actually love each other.]]
* StepfordSuburbia: The elder Braddocks and Robinsons live in a version of this.
* StockingFiller: That scene, where they're getting dressed, and she's putting on her stocking... yeah.
* TelevisionGeography:
** Everyone in Northern California knows this movie shows Ben driving the wrong way over the Bay Bridge when he goes to Berkeley.
** What they fail to wonder is why he's on the Bay Bridge in the first place, since most of the major routes from the south run along the Berkeley/Oakland side rather than the SF side.
* ThemeTuneCameo: It's not the main theme, but Ben whistles the "Mrs. Robinson" song while driving in one scene, and again later when he buys the engagement ring for Elaine.
* TrueBeautyIsOnTheInside: Oddly not mentioned, although the beautiful Mrs. Robinson is a depressed alcoholic who cheats on her husband and tries to force her daughter into an unhappy marriage, and Ben (who rescues the daughter) is played by Dustin Hoffman. Then again, Dustin Hoffman was cast at the last minute.
* TwoWordsAddedEmphasis: The trope may have originated with one word: "Plastics."
* UnbuiltTrope:
** The film popularised the RunawayBride trope - and the sequence of Benjamin convincing his love interest to run out on her wedding is iconic. But its numerous imitators forget to include the part that happens next; once they're on the bus and the thrill wears off, the two share a look that says "did we really do the right thing?" - and the film ends ambiguously
** The film was the TropeNamer for MrsRobinson. But it isn't portrayed just for fanservice, although Mrs. Robinson is certainly attractive, but also for drama. Mrs. Robinson was forced into Shotgun Wedding after having a child out of wedlock, and she wants to have affair with Ben out of dissatisfaction with a forced marriage. It also portrays the consequences of a young man having an affair with a married woman: when Ben falls for Elaine, Mrs. Robinson lies and tells Elaine and Mr. Robinson that he took advantage of her. The latter threatens to sue him if he ever comes near his family again, and Elaine initially wants nothing to do with him.
* UnsympatheticComedyProtagonist: Ben, while not a jerk, lacks sympathetic traits.
* VaderBreath: Ben, when he is wearing the scuba outfit and the camera sees things from his perspective.
* VanillaEdition: MGM's Blu-ray of the film has fewer bonus features than any of the [=DVDs=], although they (sort of) make up for it by including commentaries and interviews on the bonus DVD copy. Nicely averted with Creator/TheCriterionCollection's Blu-Ray, as you might expect.
* VirginityMakesYouStupid: To some extent Ben, especially in the beginning.
* VirginShaming: It could be interpreted that Ben is a virgin before he sleeps with Mrs. Robinson. At the very least, he sleeps with Mrs Robinson because she challenges him on his inexperience. He acts so horribly awkward she outright asks him, and he unsuccessfully tries to deny it, so she basically dares him to prove himself. "Just because you happen to be inadequate in one way..." To his... credit?... Dustin Hoffman, 30 years old at the time, does a great job of playing a nervous, shy virgin.
* WallBangHer: Ben does this during his first hotel tryst with Mrs. Robinson, when he grabs her breast and she's too busy trying to rub a stain from her blouse even to notice. This was actually improvisation on the part of Hoffman, who thought he had botched the scene and returned to the other end of the room to start it over. Director Mike Nichols kept rolling, however, and the result is classic.
* WeddingDeadline:
** The last half hour or so is built around Ben trying to beat this. [[spoiler:He fails, but it winds up not mattering much.]]
** In the book, [[spoiler:he actually does make it, but director Mike Nichols felt that it was too corny]].
* WhatNowEnding: The film ends with Ben and Elaine, having just fled Elaine's wedding, sitting next to each other on the back seat of a bus as the adrenaline rush of the escape wears off, leaving them with expressions that can be summed up as, "So what do we do now?"
* ZipMeUp: Mrs. Robinson actually asks to be ''un''-zipped.
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