Bob McCabe's Life In Movies - 1967 - The Graduate
THE INTRO BIT (Skip if you’ve been here before): We here at TheLastWordOnEath have asked noted film critic & film historian Bob McCabe to take part in our latest feature. The notion is to have someone write about the film that means the most to them for every year they’ve been alive. Not the films they saw in that year necessarily, but the ones that have come to have meaning for them in the years that followed – but were made in that year. After all, even we thought it was asking too much to get Bob to recall his cinematic experiences from 1965, the year he was born. Odds are, he wasn’t focusing on all things cinematic yet at that point.
We chose Bob because not only is he a New York Times Top 10 Best-Selling Author (Harry Potter Page To Screen), an award winning screenwriter (Out On A Limb), a noted and long-standing film critic (from Empire to the BBC via Melody Maker, Vox, Q, The Times, The Face, The Daily Mirror and anyone who would have him) and celebrated author (The Pythons Autobiography By The Pythons, Dark Knights and Holy Fools, Dreams & Nightmares, Ronnie Barker The Authorised Biography, Pinewood The Story Of An Iconic Studio, etc. – that’s the contractual obligation out of the way!) he’s also been a contributor to this site since its early days.
As a rule we have asked our writers to remain anonymous – one of the reasons this site was originally launched was because we were fed up with so-called “critics” writing about themselves rather than the films they were discussing. (Please see our “About Us” section on the tool bar above.) But in this case we’re outing Bob – and he seems OK about it.
“I thank LastWord for the challenge of doing this. It presents what seems to me to be a unique way to look back on your life and evaluate it from the movies that were made during the years you have lived through. Obviously, some of it will be retrospective – don’t really recall what I was watching the year I was born. And I told LastWord it will often be more anecdotal than analytical. I intend to write about the movies that meant something to me in all of these years I’ve been around. They won’t necessarily be the best of that year, they won’t always be Oscar winners (although some might – or some should’ve been.) But they will be the ones that do something to me. And I don’t think this goes against the ethos of this fine site, because even though this is personal, I firmly believe there is universality in the specific experience. These are my choices – but you all have yours. After all, everyone has their own Life In Movies. Yes, even you…sitting at the back there…afraid to raise your hand…”
1967 - The Graduate
Ah, the big one. Did not see this in 1967 by the way (if that needs explaining.) Saw it in 1980. AND IT CHANGED MY LIFE. (CAPS intentional.) If I remember correctly it was on BBC2 on a Monday night at 9 PM and thank God that this was the dawn of the home VHS machine – because I watched it five times more than week. As a film critic you are always asked two questions.
1: What should I go and see now? – Don’t know mate, no idea what’s out, I saw them all a while back.
And 2: What’s your favourite film? Like, ever??
So you have to have this one in the hold. And while I am often against limiting things to one choice (or another) I always turn to The Graduate. Simply because – without it, I am not me. This is the film that taught me about film. And pop music. I fell in love with Mike Nichols, I had to go to a library to find out what the nouvelle vague actually was, I couldn’t get enough of Simon & Garfunkel – to this day I still say that by listening to their Greatest Hits album on a cheap little cassette player seven times a day over a seven week summer holiday from school, Paul Simon taught me how to write. It was the first film ever scored thematically to pop music – not just having it on the soundtrack but using it to reflect and propel the action. And what songs!
And Dustin Hoffman became my on screen hero and alter ego/spirit animal in my dreams. And the fact that the ending was so quietly devastating and empty made me understand how film – and story telling in general - could do so much with so little. It is a work of genius. And, should you ever meet me at a party and feel compelled, once you find out what I do for a living, to ask me what my favourite film is…well, now you don’t have to.
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