The IMDB trivia on this iconic film is a wonderful read.
RIP Mike Nichols
The Graduate (1967)
In Dustin Hoffman and Anne Bancroft's first encounter in the hotel room, Bancroft did not know that Hoffman was going to grab her breast. Hoffman decided off-screen to do it, because it reminded him of schoolboys trying to nonchalantly grab girls' breasts in the hall by pretending to put their jackets on. When Hoffman did it onscreen, director Mike Nichols began laughing loudly off-screen. Hoffman began to laugh as well, so rather than stop the scene, he turned away from the camera and walked to the wall. Hoffman banged his head on the wall, trying to stop laughing, and Nichols thought it was so funny, he left it in.
When Dustin Hoffman showed up at Joseph E. Levine's office for a casting interview, the producer mistook him for a window cleaner, so Hoffman, in character, cleaned a window.
Two interesting camera techniques are used in the film. In the scene where Benjamin is running, he is shown at some distance running straight at the camera, an effect which makes him look as if he getting nowhere as he's running. (This technique is accomplished with a very long telephoto lens, which foreshortens distances in relation to the camera.) In another scene, Benjamin is walking from the right side of the screen to the left, while everyone else in the scene is moving from left to right. In western culture, things that move left to right seem natural (think of the direction you read words on a page), those that move right to left seem to be going the wrong way. These two visual techniques echo the themes of the film, Benjamin is going the wrong way, and getting nowhere in life.
Apparently, Dustin Hoffman's screen test consisted of him fumbling his lines and awkwardly trying to grab Katharine Ross's behind, which angered her. As he left thinking he didn't get the role, his awkwardness was just what director Mike Nichols needed for Benjamin Braddock.
When Elaine tracks down Ben in his gloomy room and he causes her to scream, a number of other tenants gather behind the landlord in the doorway. One says, "Shall I get the cops? I'll get the cops..." It's Richard Dreyfuss.
In the famous promotional still for this film, Dustin Hoffman is seen in the background framed by Mrs. Robinson's shapely leg. The leg in that photo didn't belong to Anne Bancroft, however; it belonged to a then-unknown model, Linda Gray, who later played Mrs. Robinson in a London stage musical of The Graduate.
None of the older characters has their first name identified in the film; only the younger characters of Benjamin, Elaine and Carl do, increasing the sense of a generation gap.
Although Mrs. Robinson is supposed to be much older than Benjamin, Anne Bancroft and Dustin Hoffman are just under six years apart in age. He looked naturally boyish, and she was made up to look older. For the same reason, Bancroft was only 8 years older than her "daughter" Katharine Ross, William Daniels (Mr. Braddock) only 10 years older than his "son" Hoffman.
Robert Redford screen-tested with Candice Bergen for the part of Benjamin Braddock but was finally rejected by director Mike Nichols because Nichols did not believe Redford could persuasively project the underdog qualities necessary to the role. When he told this to Redford, the actor asked Nichols what he meant. "Well, let's put it this way," said Nichols, "Have you ever struck out with a girl?" "What do you mean?" asked Redford. "That's precisely my point," said Nichols.
Judy Garland was considered for the role of Mrs. Robinson
This movie marked the first time a director was paid a flat salary (not including points) of $1,000,000.00.
In the novel, Ben interrupted the wedding before Elaine said I do. However, Mike Nichols decided to have Ben arrive after Elaine had gotten married.
Dustin Hoffman was already set to play a role in Mel Brooks The Producers (1967) when the opportunity to audition for "The Graduate" came up. Deferentially, Hoffman asked Brooks' permission to audition for the part in the other film. Through his wife, Anne Bancroft, (already cast) Brooks was familiar with the story of "The Graduate". He allowed Hoffman to audition, blithely confident he'd be found unsuitable for role of Mrs. Robinson's lover.
Jack Nicholson was considered for the part of Benjamin Braddock.
Paul Simon wrote two songs for the film that director Mike Nichols rejected: "Punky's Dilemma" and "A Hazy Shade of Winter". Both appear on the Simon and Garfunkel "Bookends" album. The song "Mrs. Robinson" was not written for the movie; it was the working title of a song Simon was then writing (originally called "Mrs. Roosvelt", and about Eleanor Roosevelt) and Nichols decided to include it. Simon and Art Garfunkel only sing the chorus but none of the verses of the later hit song. Additionally, the chorus portion sung contains some lyrics not featured in the more popular "final" version of the song.
The movie's line "Mrs. Robinson, you're trying to seduce me. Aren't you?" was voted as the #63 movie quote by the American Film Institute (out of 100), as the #5 of Premiere's "100 Greatest Movie Lines" (2007).
Ronald Reagan was considered for the role of Mr. Braddock.
According to Dustin Hoffman at NYU's Tisch School of the Arts Graduation 2003, his friend and former roommate Gene Hackman was cast as Mr. Robinson but was fired after a few weeks of work.
Mike Nichols initially wanted French actress Jeanne Moreau to play Mrs. Robinson. The idea behind this was that in the French culture, the "older" women tended to "train" the younger men in sexual matters. The producers for the movie, Joseph E. Levine and Lawrence Turman, were completely opposed to the idea. Mike Nichols was even more set on having Simon and Garfunkel do the integrated soundtrack for the film. Nichols agreed to switch actresses for Mrs. Robinson as long as he could still use Paul Simon and Art Garfunkel.
Sources vary on precisely what the truth is about the possibility of Doris Day playing Mrs. Robinson. One rumor says the property was acquired with her in mind as Mrs. Robinson, and producer Lawrence Turman sent the novel to her manager/husband, Martin Melcher, wanting to know their opinion of Day in the role, but Melcher was so disgusted by the thought that he refused to even mention it to her. Doris Day wrote in her 1975 memoir, which is probably more accurate, that she was actually offered the role, but "I could not see myself rolling around in the sheets with a young man half my age whom I'd seduced".
Patty Duke was offered the part of Elaine Robinson, but turned it down because she did not want to work at the time.
Sally Field tested for the role of Elaine.
Other actresses considered for the part of Elaine were Natalie Wood (who turned it down) and Candice Bergen (who auditioned but did not get the part).
Mike Nichols realized one reason why he had so much difficulty casting for Benjamin Braddock when he read the Mad Magazine parody of his film. One of the jokes was Benjamin asking his parents why he was Jewish and they were not, and Nichols, who is Jewish himself, realized that his film had an subconsciously autobiographical element about being an ethnic outsider in a privileged WASPish society.
Within a year of the movie's release, plastic manufacturing companies became enormously successful. Many people attribute this to Walter Brooke's quote about "plastics". Brooke himself once told his nephew that he would have invested in plastics, if he had known that the remark would lead to such success.
Charles Grodin was asked to audition as Benjamin, but was never screen tested. Mike Nichols still offered him a part in Catch-22 (1970), which he was already scheduled to direct.
According to Susan Hayward's biographers, Mike Nichols originally wanted her for the role of Mrs Robinson but she declined because she wanted to avoid modifying her screen image. After Doris Day and Patricia Neal also turned it down Nichols eventually offered it to Anne Bancroft.
Burt Ward had to turn down the role of Benjamin Braddock due to his commitment to Batman (1966) and the studio (20th Century Fox) wouldn't lend him.
The red, Italian sports car which Benjamin drives throughout the movie is a 1966 Alfa Romeo Spider 1600 also known as the Duetto.
Although Calder Willingham and Buck Henry share screen writing credit, Buck Henry wrote the shooting version of the screenplay without assistance, and Henry was not even aware of Willingham's draft. Henry was the fourth screenwriter asked to try to adapt Charles Webb's novel, however, and Willingham filed a challenge with the Writer's Guild for screen credit after the movie was completed. Because Webb's novel consists of large passages of dialogue, and both writers lifted various lines that appeared in each version, Willingham's challenge was successful.
Some of the scenes of Benjamin in "Berkeley" were actually filmed at the UCLA (University of California, Los Angeles) and USC (University of Southern California).
The movie is full of womb imagery. From Benjamin's constant desire to stay immersed in his parent's swimming pool, to the slow close-up shot of the hips of Katherine's roommate as she brings the "Dear John" letter to Benjamin, to returning to the actual womb of the elder and maternal Mrs. Robinson.
At the AFI tribute to Mike Nichols, Dustin Hoffman recounted that when he was first called to discuss auditioning for the role of Benjamin, he told Nichols that he thought he was being made fun of a little, considering how "wrong" he seemed for the character described in the source novel. "'It [the book] says he's five-foot-eleven or something, and he's a track star, and he's head of the debating club, and he's from Boston or something, he's a WASP, and I... it feels like this is a dirty trick, sir.' And in his inimitable way, he says, 'You mean, you're Jewish'. And I said, 'Yes'. 'And that's why you don't think you're right.' I said, 'Yes'. And he said, 'Well maybe he's Jewish inside'. And I then got the part, after a screen test."
Dustin Hoffman and Anne Bancroft were the not quickly chosen for the leads of this film. Warren Beatty was originally going to be the lead, but after he did not get the role, Robert Redford was selected. Patricia Neal was considered, but reportedly declined because she was uneasy about playing a lead role so soon after having a stroke.
Geraldine Page, Deborah Kerr, Lana Turner, Rita Hayworth, Shelley Winters, Eva Marie Saint and Ingrid Bergman were considered for the role of Mrs. Robinson.
Marion Lorne's final feature film.
The movie's line "Plastics." was voted as the #42 movie quote by the American Film Institute (out of 100).
Mike Farrell's movie debut.
Steve McQueen, George Peppard, George Hamilton, Anthony Perkins, Keir Dullea, Lee Stanley, Brandon De Wilde and Michael Parks were considered for the role of Ben Braddock.
Grayson Hall was considered for the role of Mrs. Robinson.
The name plate on the hotel desk reads "Mr. Kranze". Don Kranze was the film's assistant director.
One version of the song Macarena by Los del Río samples one of Bancroft's lines ("I am not trying to seduce you!").
Lee Stanley screen tested for the role of Benjamin and was seriously considered for the part.
The model frogman in the aquarium is toppled over when Mrs. Robinson tosses in the keys.
On Inside the Actors Studio (1994), director Mike Nichols claims that the final "sobering" emotion that Benjamin and Elaine go through was due to the fact that he had just been shouting at the two of them to laugh in the scene. The actors were so scared that after laughing they stopped, scared. Nichols liked it so much, he kept it.
When Benjamin is shown banging on the church window with his arms raised and extended, many reviewers felt he was portrayed as a Christ-like image. In actuality, this was a compromise with the minister of the church. The minister had threatened to throw everyone out when the scene was rehearsed with Benjamin pounding his fists on the fragile window, which had been a gift to the church.