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THE GRADUATE, directed by Mike Nichols spoke for the 60's generation

MIKE NICHOL’S THE GRADUATE: A SOCIETY REBELLION/LOVE STORY

MIKE NICHOL’S THE GRADUATE

By Alan Chrisman, copyright.

Mike Nichols & Elaine May, classic comedy team before Nichols became a director

Classic 1950’s & 60’s comedy duo: Elaine May & Mike Nichols (later director” The Graduate”).

Iconic photo from The Graduate, with Benjamin shot through Mrs. Robinson's legs.

The Graduate’s iconic scene, Benjamin seen through Mrs. Robinson’s legs

 A SOCIETY REBELLION/LOVE STORY

Mike Nichols just passed away.  He was an accomplished director in both film and theatre.  He’s directed such films as Who’s  Afraid of Virgina Woolf, Catch-22, Carnal Knowledge, Working Girl, etc. as well as several plays on Broadway.  But he’s probably most known for his film, The Graduate, in 1967.

Like in music, there are certain generation-defining films and The Graduate was that, and like Easy Rider later in’69, The Graduate expressed the feelings of the 60’s generation.  For the main character, Benjamin (played by Dustin Hoffman in his breakthrough role) represented the questioning of society which many young people at the time were going through. It was the height of the Vietnam War and there were demonstrations on campuses and many college students were challenging the values of their parents’ generation.

The most well-known scene is, of course, the seduction scene, where Benjamin is seduced by Mrs. Robinson (sexily played by Anne Bancroft). It was director Mike Nichol’s idea to film Benjamin framed through Mrs. Robinson’s legs.  It became an iconic photo which perfectly represented the film and also the temptation to go along with the “Establishment”.  Traditional values still offered those carrots to middle-class students-get a university degree, serve in the army, get married, and have a secure career.  Another famous scene expressed this too, the scene where Benjamin’s uncle tells him he should get a career in “plastics”. There was a conflict which was going on in American society, between the past and the future, and the film perfectly captured that.

Benjamin likes Elaine, Mrs. Robinson’s beautiful, but innocent daughter (played by Katharine Ross), but when she finds out about his affair with her mother, she rejects him.  Benjamin after he becomes “tainted” by Mrs. Robinson’s temptations, for a while even becomes callous towards Elaine, whom he embarrasses by taking her to a strip club.  Benjamin, eventually repents and tries to win Elaine back again.  The Graduate then becomes a great love story and, against all odds and society, fights his way back to her heart.  There are some of the most harrowing scenes as he drives by Elaine’s house, hoping to reach her, while on the soundtrack is playing Simon and Garfunkel’s sad song, “April Comes She Will”.  Simon and Garfunkel’s songs, of course, make up the famous soundtrack, especially “Mrs. Robinson” (it wasn’t made specifically for the film, but was called, “Mrs. Roosevelt” originally) and exposed their music considerably.  Nichols picked the perfect music to go along with the film.

The Graduate became symbolically, the battle between the system and rebellion against society, which many young people were actually facing at that time and, thus became massively popular with youth.  At the end of the film, like all heroic characters, Benjamin rushes in, just in time to save his damsel, Elaine (who realizes herself finally, Benjamin’s essential goodness and love for her).  The audience cheers the heroic couple as they escape the corrupt Robinsons and the Establishment life they had been offered.  The classic morality tale is up-dated for the times.

But what is most intriguing is the very last scene on the bus they’ve boarded to get away:  Benjamin and Elaine look curiously perplexed for a couple who have just fought society and won.  They each stare straight ahead and not at each other, a look of panic, even on their faces. Why?  What was director, Nichols saying?  I noticed this when I first saw The Graduate in 1967.  But I wondered then and now, if most young people even noticed at the time. That last scene to me has always been the most fascinating one in the movie.  For perhaps Nichols is hinting that for maybe Benjamin and Elaine (and perhaps symbolically, the 60’s generation), it may not be so black and white and simple a choice as youth thought their “freedom” might be.  I still wonder all these years later what Nichols meant to say.  But that is also why Nichols’ films like The Graduate still stand up- he always had a subtlety and psychological layers in his work.  Something he perhaps  learned as an actor himself, at one time, in improvisational theatre in Chicago and later as part of the influential comedy team Elaine May & Mike Nichols.  Nichols was later married to TV journalist, Diane Sawyer. The Graduate is still ranked #17 of top American films by the American Film Institute and #21 on the highest grossing films in North America.

I have my own personal story, related to The Graduate.   In 1967, I was attending a Midwestern U.S. university and questioning my own place in society.  I had transferred the year before from another U.S. university where I was taking pharmacy, but had decided to change my major to political science and history, partly because I also began to question the Vietnam War and the direction society was heading in the 60’s.  That same year, 1967, was the “Summer of Love” and The Beatles’ Sgt. Peppers’ had been released and it too would become a generation-defining icon and symbol of youth and the changes taking place. I was a big Beatles’ fan and these two cultural events, Sgt. Peppers and The Graduate were to have a large effect on many of my generation and on me personally.

When I had transferred to this new university, I had been required to take a foreign language and I took French.  But I was not very good at languages and the only thing that kept me going to the class was a pretty girl in my French course.  So I asked her out.  But it turned out to be a disastrous first date. For I was now an older 3rd year student because of my two years at the previous university, and this girl, a first year student, I arrogantly found to be too young and innocent (much like the character, Elaine, in The Graduate).    A year later though, still required to take another course in French, which I was still terrible at it, we had to take our French final in a large auditorium.  It was a stressful time because if I failed that oral final (which counted 50% of my grade), I would likely fail the course. I knew with the blaring speakers of the auditorium where it was given and with my worst aspect, being the oral part, that I was likely doomed.

I exited the auditorium, dejected. But whom do I run into there, but the same girl from that first French class and disastrous date the year before.  And surprisingly, she’s quite friendly.  For some reason, out of the blue,(I figured what had I to lose after the day I’d been having!), I asked her out that night to a movie.  And to my astonishment, she said, “Yes”.

We decided to go to a new movie in town that weekend, of which we knew little about.  Well, it was The Graduate.  We had no idea then that it would, as I say, become a generation-defining film.  But we both loved it and we got along well after the film.  This girl was now, to my now less-arrogant eyes, even more beautiful (she even looked like Katharine Ross, who played Elaine in the film), than I had remembered.  We became close for the rest of my university days.

But unfortunately, those days were soon to become to an end.  For with the  failure of that French course and some others (school courses seemed pretty irrelevant any more, with all the changes going on in society and my growing  opposition to the Vietnam War), I dropped out of university and now faced the American draft.  Finally, when there were few choices left (Vietnam or jail), I decided to flee to Canada.  And when I did finally have to leave, I asked this girl if there was anything I could give her for all her support, she said there was a special antique chair in my room that she had long admired, and I carried it in the snow to her place and said goodbye to her for the last time.  So I will always associate The Graduate with this girl and the experiences we had and the bittersweet moment of having to leave her behind and face my own choices about society.  And they were to help determine my own future, much like the characters, Benjamin and Elaine in the film, and ironically, reminded me of that haunting bittersweet look on their faces in that last scene of  Mike Nichol’s The Graduate.

THe curious last scene in tThe Graduate, wher Benjamin and Elaine, seem strangely not very happy despite their rebellion against their parents' world

The curious last scene in The Graduate, with our heroes looking strangely non-content

See Below Trailer For “The Graduate”:

http://youtu.be/hsdvhJTqLak

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hsdvhJTqLak

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THE SIXTIES: THE DECADE THAT CHANGED THE WORLD

1st Ottawa Beatles Convention'95,

1st Ottawa Beatles Convention’95,”CAVERN DAYS”, Guest Original Beatles Drummer, Pete Best

Pete Best; McCartney's Gold Record forAbbey Road,1st. Ottawa Beatles Convention'95, organized by A. Chrisman & A. Whyte, read inside story of: www.rockthistownproductions.com

Pete Best; McCartney’s Gold Record forAbbey Road,1st. Ottawa Beatles Convention’95, organized by A. Chrisman & A. Whyte, read inside story of: http://www.rockthistownproductions.com

THE SIXTIES: THE DECADE THAT CHANGED THE WORLD

By Alan Chrisman (All Articles ARE written BY ALAN CHRISMAN), copyright 2012-2015 (A Praveen Patel has tried to hack them and claim them). 

I was watching the 10-part series on CNN and thinking about how much has changed (and hasn’t) in this past 50 years.  Perhaps, it’s helpful to look back a little.   Before, TV in the 1950’s had been in black and white, and that reflected the society then.  On popular TV shows like Leave It to Beaver and The Nelsons, it was almost always a two-parent family.   The men had the jobs (and would often stayed at the same one their whole lives), and the women were housewives, raised the kids, and marriages lasted, for good and bad.  The world outside was also literally black and white too.  There was segregation of the races, especially in the U.S. South.  A Good vs. Evil mentality dominated in the Cold War with the U.S. against Russia and the ever-present threat of nuclear war.

But in the 60’s, TV became in color and that also reflected the changing times.  Youth rebelled against many of the values their parent’s had worked so hard to build after W.W. 2.  The Civil Rights Movement had started racial change.  Popular culture and rock ’n’ roll helped bring about these changes too.  Elvis had appeared on the Ed Sullivan Show, in the late 50’s, but they didn’t show his moving hips.  This powerful new medium TV, replaced radio, and would reach into every living room.  When The Beatles played on Ed Sullivan in Feb.’64, it couldn’t contain their live energy and humor.  The 60’s and the “youth revolution” had started.   From now on, things would be in Technicolor and Stereo.  The world was no longer black and white or as simple and innocent perhaps.   There was violence and upheavals with the assassinations of the Kennedys’ and Martin Luther King and the Vietnam War.  These political and social changes divided people, often along generational lines.   But things only got more gray and blurred in the process too-they were not to be so clear-cut anymore.  Because of this new electronic media, it was able to reach the whole world.  It wasn’t just restricted to a small town or country, but a global village as Marshall McLuhan had called it.  We didn’t have to even speak the same language, for music and visuals are universal, and it was one of the first times in history when that happened.  That’s why The Sixties changed the world and would continue to do so for decades after.

Younger generations, especially, who didn’t grow up then, may not fully understand the impact.  In this age of internet and social media, it’s just an accepted part of their and our daily lives.   But it’s hard to even fathom the changes in such a relatively short time.  It’d be like the Wright Brothers flying in one of our space capsules.  So much has changed these past decades and a lot of it started then in the 60’s- the first electronic media, rock music as something more than just entertainment, and our whole obsession with youth.  Of course, the Baby Boomers, also the first generation to carry it on into their old age, have helped to keep it alive.   The market knows how to re-package it and sell it back.  In the 70’s, women and the feminist movement  demanded more equal  jobs and pay (although there’s still more to go) and this changed the roles for both men and women and their kinds of relationships.   More and more people are remaining single or postponing marriage and very few will have just one life-long partner or job.  These are massive social differences from the past and we sometimes forget this.   Today, technology is moving so fast that it would be curious to see if these new generations will feel perhaps the same when they’re the older generations themselves.

There is no black and white anymore, nothing is so clear and certain in our current world.  Whereas, we once feared from threats outside (and still somewhat do with terrorism and wars, Russia and Putin, etc. and there hasn’t been a clear-cut war since, including Vietnam).  There was violence and terror before, but now it seems to be more internal.   We’ve come to fear some even right around us.  Almost weekly there’s another school or mall shooting.  There are too many guns and obviously mentally-ill people with access to them.  Marshall McLuhan predicted, in the global village, we would lose a lot of our personal identities and some would try to get recognition through terrorism and violent acts.   All this new technology has helped us communicate faster, but it has also helped some of us feel more alienated from each other too.  We even have to worry about our own governments and corporations spying on us.  As I said, The Sixties were but the start of these changes and it was a turning point for what was to come- in media, pop culture, in relationships, in society, and politics.  That is why The Sixties are still important today.

More about “Growing Up in the 60’s”:  See Alan Chrisman’s book,”IT’S A LONG WAY HOME”(&HOW BEATLES’ MUSIC SAVED MY LIFE)  http://www.rockthistownproductions.com

SONGS TO ACCOMPANY BOOK"IT"S A LONG WAY HOME"

“IT’S A LONG WAY HOME”( & HOW BEATLES’ MUSIC SAVED MY LIFE), A Musical Memoir, Book Description

“CAVERN DAYS”, THE 1st. OTTAWA BEATLES CONVENTION Sept ’95, anniversary of THE BEATLES playing Canada

Original Beatles Drummer, Pete Best & his Band from Liverpool, Guest.

Original Beatles Drummer, Pete Best & his Band from Liverpool, Guest.

EXCERPTS FROM THE BOOK: “IT’S A LONG WAY HOME”(& HOW BEATLES’ MUSIC SAVED MY LIFE), A Musical Memoir 

By Alan Chrisman (All Articles ARE written BY ALAN CHRISMAN), copyright 2012-2015 (A Praveen Patel has tried to hack them and claim them). 

Alan Chrisman, grew up in the innocence of a small U.S. Midwestern town.  But that was soon to change with two world-shaking events, The Vietnam War and The Beatles.  The 60’s were a tumultuous time and their music was a large part of its soundtrack.

Propelled by both events, he moved to a cold but welcoming land and its capitol, Ottawa, Canada, a place with similarities and differences from where he was raised.  There, inspired especially by The Beatles’ founder and co-writer, John Lennon, he became involved in various aspects of music, setting up one of its first used record stores, ”IMAGINE”, organizing The Ottawa Beatles Conventions and meeting many whom were there from the Beatles’ beginnings.  Several of the chapters are named after Beatles’ and Lennon’s songs and parallel his own experiences.  Later, he would also learn of an intriguing story how this revolutionary music even helped change a repressive system half way around the world.  

It was to be a Long and Winding Road with many curves and he describes some of the characters he met along the way and their sometimes trying, but humorous stories.   He also writes about the joys and pains of relationships and how pop music and culture affects our views of them and with some of his own song lyrics.

Ottawa, which one of its well-respected musicians called the“Liverpool of the North”, had more direct connections to England and felt the British Invasion earlier than the U.S. and he includes its 60’s and 70’s scene as well as his own involvement with musicians for the next several years. 

So come along for the journey and see how Beatles’ music influenced him and millions of others and why it still resonates decades later.

                       

 “IT’S A LONG WAY HOME” (& HOW BEATLES’ MUSIC SAVED MY LIFE), A Musical Memoir 
                                                  BOOK, CD, AUDIO CD, & ebook:  COVER BELOW

Picture

CONTENTS                     

Introduction                                                                                                                                                   

Chapter 1:  Crossing the Borderline (“Paul is Dead” rumour)


Chapter 2:   Midwestern Childhood (“Thank God For The Beatles” lyrics)
                                                    
Chapter 3:  University Days (“Woman the Muse”)
                                                                                     
Chapter 4:   Ottawa,Canada
Chapter 5:  “IMAGINE”, (John & Yoko in Ottawa)

Chapter 6:  Vancouver (J. Lennon shot, Dec, 8, 1980)
Chapter 7:  Back in Ottawa

Chapter 8:  Walls and Bridges
Chapter 9:  Rock This Town! Prods. (’85-’93)

Chapter10: Birthday and NY Dakota Visit (Strawberry Fields Memorial)
                                               
Chapter 11:  Connecticut Beatles Convention (Cynthia Lennon, May Pang)
Chapter 12; #9 Dream (Stu Sutcliffe Art, Astrid K.)

Chapter 13:  Ottawa Beatles Convention, ‘95 ( Pete Best, Cavern, Liverpool)
Chapter 14:  Ottawa Beatles Convention, ‘96( L. Harrison, Lennon car, Day John Met Paul)
                                       
Chapter 15:  Long Lost Weekend (“Real Good Woman” lyrics)
Chapter 16    Lady In Red ( P. Best Gets His Due)

Chapter 17:   ‘Get Back’ Records
Chapter 18:  Clean-up Time(Never Knew Who’d Drop In)



Chapter 19:   Lady in Red 2 ( “Annie Hall”)
Chapter 20:  Lister in L.A. ( “So You Want to be a R’ n ‘R Star”)

Chapter 21:  Time for a Change (G. Harrison passes)

                                                                                     
Chapter 22:  “Back in the U.S.S.R.”(The Beatles Help Bring Down Communism!)
Chapter 23:   Music Never Dies (“Al & THE G-MEN”, Still Rockin’)

Chapter 24: Long and Winding Road ( P. McCartney Plays Ottawa, 2013)
Chapter 25: “Liverpool of the North” (Ottawa music 60’s/70’s)

                                                  

   

(This book published by Alan L. Chrisman © 2013; All Alan Chrisman lyrics © 2012, 2013; Cover graphic by ‘G-Man’): eBook version c.2014
           
                         

 

FOR COMPLETE BOOK on CD(MSWord), AUDIO DVD(narrated), e book,(2014) or Original SONGS CD To Accompany Book, CONTACT: Alan L. Chrisman     www.rockthistownproductions.com  

Link To ebook(2014) version:

                                                                             ALAN L. CHRISMAN—BIOGRAPHY:

Alan L. Chrisman ( http://www.RockThisTownProductions.com) ran the used vinyl stores (Imagine, Get Back, Rock This Town!) for several years in Ottawa, Canada, and a coffeehouse, an alternative newspaper, promoted musicians, put on concerts and organized the two Ottawa Beatles Conventions ‘95 & ‘96. and met several in The Beatles’ circle.  He wrote a  memoir/book and an original songs CD, “It’s A Long Way Home”, about his life, and his influences, including “LIVERPOOL OF THE NORTH”: The Story Of Ottawa 60’s/70’s Music, in 2013.

Today, he continues to be involved in music: writing and recording songs (for AL & The G-Men), helping local musicians, shooting videos ( Youtube alanchrisman1), and organizing shows.   He also writes short stories, reviews and articles and blogs on a wide variety of subjects.  Several of his songs have been played on and he has been interviewed by CKCU-FM and CBC Radio.  And some of his artifacts have been on display at the “Ottawa Rocks” City Hall archives exhibit.