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Grandin offers ‘The Graduate’ on the big screen

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The iconic Mrs. Robinson returns to the big screen courtesy of Roanoke’s historic Grandin Theatre. The classic 1967 comedy “The Graduate” will be shown this Saturday May 10 as part of the Grandin’s monthly Classic Film Series presented by Friendship Retirement Community. Showtime is 10 a.m. in the theatre’s main auditorium and admission is free.

Anne Bancroft saw a career that spanned six decades and a renowned performance as strong willed Irish teacher Annie Sullivan in “The Miracle Worker” that earned both a Tony on stage and an Academy Award for the 1962 film version. However, her best remembered role is that of Mrs. Robinson, the older married woman seducer of shiftless recent college graduate Benjamin Braddock (Dustin Hoffman). This becomes even more amazing considering that Mrs. Robinson is supposed to be twice Benjamin’s age but Bancroft was in fact only 35 years old at the time opposite a 30 year old Hoffman.

Their affair encounters the mother-of-all-complications when Benjamin’s parents introduce him to Mrs. Robinson’s daughter Elaine (Katharine Ross). He at first shuns her but ultimately falls obsessively in love with her. He determinedly sets out to win her hand in the seemingly insurmountable face of Mrs. Robinson, Mr. Robinson (Murray Hamilton), a guy named Carl (Brian Avery) and Elaine’s own aversion to him.

“The Graduate” offered Dustin Hoffman his breakout role and his first Oscar nomination, but it was not one that came easily. Hoffman auditioned and screen tested countless times over the course of a lengthy casting process at the dogged behest of his agent. The production team originally saw Benjamin as a tall, strapping and dashingly handsome guy. Fortunately, director Mike Nichols realized that was the wrong direction to go, saw Hoffman as the perfect choice and made film history.

The movie also features an equally iconic soundtrack. It’s punctuated by Simon & Garfunkel’s “Mrs. Robinson,” “The Sound of Silence” and a host of folk guitar riffs. You’ll be singing “dee-dee-dee-dee-dee-dee” for days afterward.

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