Clip | Mike Nichols: American Masters - Directing The Graduate (1967)

Mike Nichols won an Academy Award for directing The Graduate, his second film, released in December 1967. Nichols says he learned much of his trade from director Elia Kazan and Lee Strasberg, with whom he studied acting at the Actors Studio. Sharing anecdotes about the film in its production stages are Dustin Hoffman, the young star of The Graduate, and Paul Simon, whose songs, including “The Sound of Silence” and “Mrs. Robinson”, are on the film soundtrack.

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THE THING THAT I LEARNED FROM KAZAN AND STRASBERG WAS THAT... WHAT THE DIRECTOR DOES -- AGAIN, I DIDN'T KNOW IT APPLIED TO ME, BUT THEY HAD TWO SETS OF GREAT DEFINITIONS OF WHAT A DIRECTOR DOES.

HE SAID TO US, YOU KNOW, 'DON'T TRY TO ACT.

JUST, YOU KNOW, SAY THE LINES.

THIS IS A FIRST READING.'

AND WE ALL TOOK HIM TOO LITERALLY, AND WE FINISHED, AND HE LOOKED LIKE HE WAS GONNA THROW UP.

♪ HELLO, DARKNESS, MY OLD FRIEND ♪

IT WAS THE FIRST TIME THAT JOSEPH E. LEVINE WAS GOING TO SEE THE MOVIE.

AND... HE'S SILENT THROUGH THE WHOLE MOVIE -- NO -- NO LAUGHS, NO NOTHING.

AND THE MOVIE ENDS AND THE LIGHTS COME UP, AND JOSEPH E. LEVINE IS SITTING IN THE FRONT ROW.

HE DOESN'T TURN AROUND OR ANYTHING, AND HE SAYS... 'I... SMELL MONEY.'

♪ AND HERE'S TO YOU ♪ ♪ MRS. ROBINSON ♪ ♪ JESUS LOVES YOU MORE THAN YOU WILL KNOW ♪ ♪ WHOA, WHOA, WHOA ♪ [ APPLAUSE ] ♪ GOD BLESS YOU, PLEASE ♪ ♪ MRS. ♪