The Graduate (1967) Screenplay Analysis

The Graduate (1967), written by Buck Henry and Calder Willingham, is a classic coming-of-age, romantic comedy, drama, bizarre… Actually I am not really sure what genre it is. Like my last analysis, I read this script a few weeks back, so I am mostly going off of memory. Consequently, I will keep the writeup succinct.

Script Formatting Notes

  • Draft Read: Unknown
  • Type: Shooting

Overall Thoughts

I read the shooting script. I liked it. The flow was good and it was easy to visualize exactly what was written on each page; that may have been because the writing was descriptive or it may have been because I have seen the move a half dozen times (probably the former).


The premise: A recent college graduate has an affair with a woman more than twice his age and then falls in love with her daughter – Can it get more Shakespearean than that? Probably, but I am no expect in Shakespeare (yet) and that is what comes to mind.

The story flowed well and was a relatively easy read. Ben (the main character) starts off shy and professional, and ends somewhat crazy and daring. Did he change or did his manners and respect for adults (now that he is one and realizes how clueless they are) just wear off? Isn’t that what comedy is all about?


Ben, Mrs. Robinson, Elaine… These are classic characters. Not much more to say here.

Dialogue & Pacing

As noted above, the flow was good and the dialogue was witty and believable.

Emotional Impact

Is Ben’s situation relatable? Kinda, sorta. He is certainly more dynamic than Elaine’s husband (they got married, right?) and Berkeley student Carl Smith.

Best Part of The Script

  • 30. Plastics. There is a great future in plastics. Think about it.
  • 36. Mrs. Robinson, you are trying to seduce me.
  • 255. Elaine – Elaine!