Nikki Finke sounds rightfully horrified at the prospect of an "un-sequel" to The Graduate that begins filming next month. It is, she writes in the current LA Weekly, "certain to be one of the most controversial films ever."
None of the players in the previous film are back: not Dustin Hoffman, not Anne Bancroft, not Katharine Ross, not Mike Nichols, not Buck Henry. It all sounds as blasphemous as a sequel to Casablanca. The end result could be like that suckfest The Sting II, in which different actors played the characters from the original. (Replacing Paul Newman, Robert Redford and Robert Shaw were Jackie Gleason, Mac Davis and Oliver Reed, respectively.)...
“I would say this was inevitable,” Buck Henry, co-writer of the original with Calder Willingham, tells L.A. Weekly. “I can’t criticize something I haven’t read or seen.” But, once he hears about the cast and concept, there is silence — until he deadpans: “That’s not my idea of a good time. Would you really go to see this movie? I don’t understand where the impulse comes from. It seems like a silly inside joke.”
It’s a far cry from that infamous cameo in Robert Altman’s The Player where Buck Henry is hilariously pitching a Graduate sequel: ‘‘Okay, here it is: The Graduate, Part II! Ben and Elaine are married still, living in a big old spooky house in Northern California somewhere. Mrs. Robinson, her aging mother, lives with them. She’s had a stroke. And they’ve got a daughter in college — Julia Roberts, maybe. It’ll be dark and weird and funny — with a stroke.’’ Later, on college campuses and at film festivals, Henry explained that he did the cameo primarily so no one would ever think of doing the sequel.
“It’s meant to be off-putting,” Henry tells L.A. Weekly. “But about 10 minutes after the first screening of The Player, some executive I didn’t know approached me, introduced himself and said, ‘I know it was a joke. But let’s talk seriously about it.’”
Finke writes that Charles Webb, who wrote the novel on which the 1967 film was based, is now reclusive in England, living with his ex-wife Eve Rudd "now known as Fred."