See the exclusive clip from the Criterion edition of the 1967 classic

By Jeff Labrecque
February 22, 2016 at 01:33 PM EST
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Dustin Hoffman had been playing a transvestite German fishwife in an Off Broadway play when director Mike Nichols first discovered his talent, and even after completing filming on The Graduate in 1967, the 29-year-old actor was still collecting unemployment checks and worrying about his future. But after a New York sneak preview, Hoffman was recognized leaving the theater by Radie Harris, the veteran columnist of The Hollywood Reporter. “You’re the man who played that part,” she said, and he nodded. “Your life is never going to be the same.”

The Graduate opened in December of 1967 and became one of the films that represented a changing of the guard in Hollywood and American culture, led by the young generation of Baby Boomers. Hoffman played Benjamin Braddock, who returns home from college, driftless despite a privileged upbringing, and is seduced into an illicit affair with the wife of his father’s law partner, Mrs. Robinson (Anne Bancroft). The only thing that shakes him from his doldrums, however, is an introduction to Mrs. Robinson’s lovely daughter (Katharine Ross) — which only complicates an already complicated love story.

Critics of the time were split on The Graduate, but audiences responded immediately and Oscar endorsed the film with seven nominations, including one each for Hoffman, Bancroft, and Ross. Oscar night was less kind, with the Academy opting to honor In the Heat of the Night and Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner instead — Nichols took home the film’s only prize, for Best Director. History, however, has solidified The Graduate‘s standing as one of the essential films of the last 50 years. “For me, The Graduate was life altering — both as an experience at the movies as well as a master class about how to stage a scene,” Steven Spielberg said, following the death of Nichols in 2014.

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On Feb. 23, Criterion will release a new special edition of the film, and in this exclusive clip from a new interview with Hoffman, he talks about the film’s original opening, which was filmed and ultimately abandoned. Instead, Nichols and editor Robert Surtees came up with the hypnotic sequence of Benjamin at the airport. Watch the scene below and listen to Hoffman discuss it in the interview above.

Criterion Special Edition Features

• New 4K digital restoration, with uncompressed monaural soundtrack on the Blu-ray

• Optional 5.1 surround remix, approved by director Mike Nichols, presented in DTS-HD Master Audio on the Blu-ray

• Audio commentary from 2007 featuring Nichols in conversation with filmmaker Steven Soderbergh

• Audio commentary from 1987 featuring film scholar Howard Suber

• New interview with actor Dustin Hoffman

• New conversation between producer Lawrence Turman and actor-screenwriter Buck Henry

• New interview with film writer and historian Bobbie O’Steen about editor Sam O’Steen’s work on The Graduate

• Students of The Graduate, a short documentary from 2007 on the film’s influence

The Graduate at 25, a 1992 featurette on the making of the film

• Interview with Nichols by Barbara Walters, from a 1966 episode of NBC’s Today show

• Excerpt from a 1970 appearance by singer-songwriter Paul Simon on The Dick Cavett Show

• Screen tests

• Trailer

• PLUS: An essay by journalist and critic Frank Rich

The Graduate

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  • Terry Johnson