The Misplaced Nostalgia for Movies Like “The Graduate”

Dustin Hoffman and Anne Bancroft in “The Graduate.”    CREDIT IMAGE BY EVERETT

How much money is the right amount to make a movie? How much time should it take to shoot one? How long should it take to write and refine a screenplay? And what’s the artistic price of sketchy writing, scant budgeting, and rapid shooting? Those are the challenging questions that one of the luminaries of the modern cinema, Dustin Hoffman, brings up in an interview that appeared in the Independent last week:

It’s hard to believe you can do good work for the little amount of money these days. We did The Graduate and that film still sustains, it had a wonderful script that they spent three years on, and an exceptional director with an exceptional cast and crew, but it was a small movie, four walls and actors, that is all, and yet it was 100 days of shooting.
His remarks are only the latest in a series of laments that have more commonly been offered up by critics regarding the death of the so-called midrange drama—realistic movies, likely rated R, featuring stars and name directors, on which all the main participants are paid substantially and work fully within the traditional norms of the industry, with large crews, vast complements of equipment, and a protracted shoot schedule.

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