Showing posts with label Buck Henry. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Buck Henry. Show all posts

Friday, April 21, 2017

The 50th Anniversary of The Graduate (1967)

This year marks the 50th anniversary of the cultural phenomenon that is The Graduate (1967). Prior to this month I had never watched the film in its entirety. Key scenes are so ingrained in our collective pop culture knowledge that there's no escaping them. And no one could spoil the movie for me because I knew the famous ending well. Why did it take me so long to watch The Graduate? I must have been holding out for just the right moment and that opportunity arose I attended this year's TCM Classic Film Festival.

Author Beverly Gray

On the first day of the festival and a couple days before the screening, I had the opportunity to speak to author Beverly Gray on the red carpet. She's been hard at work writing a new book all about The Graduate. Here's what she had to say:

On day three of the festival, Ben Mankiewicz interviewed screenwriter and actor Buck Henry on stage at the TCL Chinese Theatre. Buck had suffered a stroke and Mankiewicz was the kindest and most patient interviewer helping Buck when we was struggling with answers. Mankiewicz reassured Buck that he was in front of the most patient crowd in the world and it was true. But we didn't have to be too patient because Buck had many clever and witty responses to Mankiewicz's questions and had us all laughing with delight.

Mankiewicz and Buck Henry discussed the making of The Graduate at length. Based on the novel by Charles Webb, Buck Henry along with Calder Willingham the story for the screen. Buck also has a small part as a hotel clerk in the film. According to Mankiewicz, Webb's book only sold a couple thousand copies. Buck had read it previously but it took producer Lawrence Truman to get the concept to director Nichols in order for the project to move forward. Buck joked that he was one of the "brave two thousand" to read the novel.

Director Mike Nichols had his eye on Robert Redford for the lead role. Looking back now it seems impossible that anyone other than Dustin Hoffman as Ben Braddock. According to Mankiewicz, Redford's persona was closer to the depiction in the book than what was presented on screen. When asked whether Redford would have been wrong for the film role, Buck Henry replied "according to Redford, yes." Nichols desperately tried to woo Redford. They had discussed the part and Redford told Nichols that he just couldn't understand the role. Nichols offered to fix anything Redford didn't like. Nichols said "Bob you must have made dates with girls in your long career as an eligible male and had them stand you up?". Redford replied, "what does that mean?" And that was the end of that.

Dustin Hoffman was under contract to be in stage production of The Producers and was let go to make The Graduate. Mankiewicz joked that Mel Brooks being married to the film's lead actress Anne Bancroft probably helped a little. Hoffman was considered by many to be an odd choice for the lead role. Buck Henry once said about Hoffman, "the reaction in Hollywood was that his nose was too big, he was funny looking, his voice was too strangled, he walks funny and he has odd cadence."

Gene Hackman was originally supposed to be in the film but he was fired three weeks into filming. Buck thought Nichols was "slightly insane" for letting him go. Mankiewicz pointed out that because Hackman was not in The Graduate he was able to make Bonnie and Clyde.  As they say, when one door closes another one opens!

Dustin Hoffman in The Graduate (1967) - Photo credit: Rialto Pictures

Did you know that the iconic shot of Anne Bancroft's leg framing Dustin Hoffman was storyboard artist Harold Michelson's idea? After you watch The Graduate for the 50th anniversary make sure you watch Daniel Raim's documentary Harold and Lillian to learn about Harold Michelson and his wife film researcher Lillian Michelson (who happens to be one of my personal heroes). Harold and Lillian opens theatrically later this month in NY and Los Angeles and will be playing in more cities soon.

Rialto's 4k restoration of The Graduate is part of Fathom Events and TCM's Big Screen Classics series. It will be screened across the US in theaters on April 23rd and 26th.

Monday, April 10, 2017

TCM Classic Film Festival 2017: Day 3 Recap

The Graduate signage at the 2017 TCM Classic Film Festival

Another day in La La Land kicks off with the third day of the 2017 TCM Classic Film Festival. Still weary from the midnight screening of Zardoz (1977), I managed to get up early for the 9 AM screening of The China Syndrome (1979).

This time I went with Carlos who is a huge Michael Douglas fan. After the movie the man himself came out for an interview with Ben Mankiewicz. It was neat to see him in person and to talk about the making of the film. I've seen numerous Michael Douglas films before but something about hearing his voice in real life was quite epic. You could hear his father's voice in his.

Michael Douglas and Ben Mankiewicz

I was entranced by The China Syndrome and hope to do a full review with transcript from the interview here on the blog soon.

Afterwards I made my way to In-N-Out burger for a quick meal and then headed over to Club TCM. I attended Bruce Goldstein's presentation The Art of Subtitling. He poked fun at those who point out how the subtitles to foreign films miss words or are not direct translations. He did a great job explaining why. He used some examples from Panqiue (1946), a French film I had seen the day before. If the subtitles included a word for word translation the text would take up half the screen. See the example in the photo below.

Goldstein went into detail about how foreign films are translated and how the subtitles are positioned on the different scenes. It's really a technical art. You have to accommodate enough time for the viewers to read the text, the subtitle can't take up too much of the screen, it should be accurate for the time, place, culture, characters and plot and the words can't get in the way of the flow of the visuals. Goldstein demonstrated with examples of different styles of subtitling both good and bad. He always discussed the international culture of dubbing. Here in the US we much prefer subtitles but in foreign markets dubbing is preferred. It was an amazing presentation and I'm so glad I attended. Hat tip to Kate Gabrielle who's enthusiasm for this event made me want to go.

High on my list of films to see at the TCM Classic Film Festival was Elia Kazan's America America (1963). I always end up picking one film that most of my friends skip or is generally overlooked. The theater was half full for this screening and I really wish it was a packed house. A three hour film about a Greek immigrant isn't a big sell but this is such a fantastic movie it was one I didn't want to miss.

Especially after I had interviewed the star Stathis Giallelis on the red carpet just a couple days before...

Me interviewing Stathis Giallelis on the red carpet TCMFF

Alicia Malone and Stathis Giallelis

TCM's FilmStruck host Alicia Malone was on hand to interview Stathis Giallelis before the America America screening. While I've written about this film before, I can't miss an opportunity to write about this wonderful event. Stay tuned.

After a three hour drama, it was time for a light comedy...

Best in Show (2000)! I thought this was going to be a controversial pick because the film is only 17 years old. (Ben Mankiewicz poked fun at the newness of the film by falsely claiming that it was the 30th anniversary). I was pleasantly surprised that this screening sold out the bigger of the three theatres at the TCL Chinese Multiplex.

Stars John Michael Higgins, Fred Willard, Bob Balaban and Jim Piddock were all on hand for a pre-screening interview. I've always had a love for this film and it was great fun to hear the cast talk about making the movie. It was a bit awkward that Balaband couldn't speak because he was on voice rest. However everyone made the most of it and it turned out to be a running joke throughout the presentation.

Cast members of Best in Show with Ben Mankiewicz

It got chilly on Hollywood Boulevard. I made my way to the Grauman's Chinese theatre to get my ticket for the screening of The Graduate (1967). 

I had a great chat with Warner Archive's Matt Patterson while I was on my way to get some food. We had such a good conversation that I ran out of time to grab a meal. It was worth it though.

I sat with Danny of and his lovely wife Aubrey for the screening of The Graduate. This was the first time I had seen the film all the way through. I had watched various clips and I knew the ending well. Before the film, Ben Mankiewicz interviewed screenwriter and actor Buck Henry. More on this event to come.

Ben Mankiewicz and Buck Henry

The last recap should be available in a few days. Stay tuned!

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