Views from the Sofa’s 100 Greatest Scenes is a list of the 100 greatest moments in the movies. This could be long introductions, moments of action or great dialogue between characters. The scenes are in no particular order and come from many different types of movies.
The first is from a film reviewed earlier in the week when Dustin Hoffman’s Benjamin Braddock first realises the intentions of his parent’s “most attractive friend.” It is perfect from start to finish, with the oft misquoted line in the middle summarising the humour and awkwardness behind the whole scene.
Greatest Scene Number 1: The Graduate – “Mrs Robinson, you’re trying to seduce me.”
The scene arguably starts outside the house, when Anne Bancroft’s Mrs Robinson convinces Hoffman’s character to come inside so she feels safe. For me, the best of the movie’s scene begins when she puts on the music which will also score the scene perfectly. It is the only time in the film that Simon and Garfunkel’s track isn’t used and it is a great choice.
The rest of the scene’s effectiveness comes from how well Bancroft and Hoffman play their roles. Hoffman is clearly out of his depth while Bancroft knows exactly what she is doing. She is being obvious without saying anything. This juxtaposition in styles results in a very funny scene, where Hoffman’s Braddock ties himself in knots trying to remove himself from the house.
Add to this the great direction by Mike Nichols. The shot framed by Bancroft’s arched leg, as Hoffman delivers the now iconic line, is an example of cinema perfection. Followed by the disbelief that he could say such a thing.
The sequence ends with Bancroft naked in the bedroom, spelling out her availability to Hoffman. This is a great moment too and is the best Hoffman is in the whole movie. The flashes of nudity as he doesn’t know where to put his eyes, trying his best to get out until he hears Mr Robinson’s car in the drive.
Overall, this famous scene does two things for The Graduate. It lays the foundation for the rest of the movie and in one scene demonstrates the dynamics between the two central characters. It is also a great showcase for director Nichols talents, as well as the comedic ability of both Nichols and Bancroft.