Despite its quirky, comic charm, The Graduate is, in effect, a tragedy. It’s the story of a man who experiences the disillusionment of adulthood far sooner than he should have to. The youth in question is Benjamin Braddock, indelibly played by a stammering, jittery, 29-year-old Dustin Hoffman. Director Mike Nichols tells us all we need to know about Benjamin during the opening credits, during which an elaborate tracking shot follows the recent college grad as he’s carried along by unseen forces by one of those moving sidewalks in an airport. (The music here, and throughout the movie, is a soon-to-be classic Simon and Garfunkel song.) Once he settles into an aimless existence back at his parents lush suburban house, the defining force in Benjamin’s world comes to be Mrs. Robinson (Anne Bancroft, employing seduction as if it were a war tactic). A friend of his parents, Mrs. Robinson practically orders Benjamin into an affair. There’s brief ecstasy, eventually boredom and then painful regret when Benjamin falls in love with her daughter Elaine (Katharine Ross). One of the wonders of The Graduate is the way Nichols turns this fairly soapy story into pure cinema. A staple of college movie courses, The Graduate serves as a textbook example of expert editing, thoughtful framing and the use of off-screen sound. One of the iconic shots in movie history is the sight of the tiny Benjamin, in the background, looking trapped by the foreground image of Mrs. Robinson’s leg as it arches across the screen.