San Diego Classic Film Calendar

Thursday, April 27, 2017

After the Bus: The Search for the Lost Sequel to The Graduate

Last night, I saw The Graduate in the theater. I first saw the film in college in a class, Film as Literature. The professor compared The Graduate to Casablanca, In Casablanca, ill-fated lovers Humphrey Bogart and Ingrid Bergman are deeply in love but ultimately Bogart does the noble thing and sends Ingrid Bergman off with Paul Henreid, and he and Claude Rains run off to fight Nazis in Brazzaville. In The Graduate, ill-fated lovers Dustin Hoffman and Katherine Ross defy convention and societal norms and run off together and presumably live happily ever after with the exception of the world's most awkward family dinners twice a year at Christmas and Thanksgiving. Or did they? What would really happen when they got off that bus?

In the last 18 hours, a crack team of Blog of the Darned researchers have interviewed the surviving cast and crew and uncovered (made up) the story of what really happened after "The Sounds of Silence" faded and Dustin Hoffman and Katherine Ross got off that bus in the lost sequel to The Graduate entitled:

The Graduate 2: The Robinsons Strike Back

Immediately after the success of the film, executives at United Artists approached Simon and Garfunkel to get the duo to write a new original soundtrack for the sequel. Paul Simon was initially leery of the idea, but agreed to read an early partial draft of the screenplay at the insistence of his manager. Reading the disjointed story only confirmed Simon's suspicions that a sequel was an absolutely horrible idea. Art Garfunkel on the other hand was intrigued by the idea and purportedly auditioned for a small role, causing Paul Simon to not return his calls for several weeks. Pop music historians generally agree that this was the start of the rift that ultimately led to the duo's demise in the early 1970s. 

Mike Nichols was pressured to direct the sequel, but wanted no part of it and avoided the overtures of United Artists by throwing himself into a project so obscure that its Wikipedia entry is only two sentences long. With Nichols out of the picture, United Artists proceeded commission a new story and screenplay from a string of writers, though no complete screenplay has ever been discovered. All that survives some five decades later of the lost sequel are two documents, the authenticity of which still remain in dispute.

Document 1 [Original hand-written story for The Graduate sequel]

Though hand-writing analysis has proved inconclusive, the following text was possibly penned by Buck Henry, as it was written on the what appears to be discarded pages from an early draft of Candy (1968), also written by Buck Henry. A chemical examination of the manuscript paper confirm that it is indeed period-correct typing paper of the brand commonly used by Henry, though the paper also contained trace amounts of peyote, cannabis, and veterinary-grade animal tranquilizers of the type used exclusively during the filming of the TV series, Mutual of Omaha's Wild Kingdom. However, no definitive link between Buck Henry and Marlon Perkins has ever been established.

To further muddy the issue of authorship, a physical examination of the manuscript indicate that it was stored for many years under a Frisbee. Buck Henry has a long well-documented public record that he was never able to properly throw a Frisbee and looked like a doofus whenever he tried. If it was indeed written by Henry, the drug residue would indicate that he was not in his right state of mind when he did so. The following is a transcript of this story with annotation in [brackets] as required:


Ben and Elaine sit at the back of the bus. "The Sound of Silence" plays. Ben and Elaine sit, not speaking, quietly holding hands. The bus makes its way into a suburban business district. As the song comes to an end, Ben and Elaine get off the bus at a shopping mall, and Elaine realizes that everyone is staring at her because she is still wearing her wedding dress. They go into mod-hippie-ish women's clothing store. "Turn Turn Turn" plays inside the store. [At this point there is a note in the margins that reads, "You did get the rights to The Byrds catalog, correct? I seem to remember a memo."] Elaine finds an outfit and asks the clerk for the largest shopping bag they have. She stuffs her wedding gown and veil in the the bag, but the bag is hopelessly undersized, and there are bits of satin and lace bursting out everywhere.
Back at church, Carl, the Make Out king and Elaine's jilted would-be husband, calls his roommate back at the fraternity. His roommate tells him that some guy with a red Alfa Romeo was looking for him and asking where he was getting married. Carl says the wedding is off, and he is heading back to Berkeley. On his way out of town, Carl sees Ben's sports car parked on the side of the road. He stops and looks at it and then notices a hamburger stand nearby. He goes to the hamburger stand and stuffs his pockets with sugar packets. There is a comically awkward scene where Carl puts about 75 sugar packets into Ben's gas tank. Carl returns to school, where he has a long steamy sexually ambivalent shower with his fraternity brothers.
Later, Ben carrying a gas can and Elaine carrying her bagged wedding dress walk hand in hand to "Mr. Tambourine Man." They make it to Ben's car, where he fills the tank, somewhat confused by the sugar packet wrappers everywhere. When the car won't start, Ben puts two and two together. At a garage, Ben is informed by the mechanic that a new engine will cost roughly half the price of a new Alfa Romeo. Ben offers to trade the sports car straight across for a Ford Edsel:
Ben [Elated]: God dammit, this same exact make and model that your parents conceived you in. I know it. I can feel it.
Elaine: Ben, this car was made when I when about 10.
Ben: No it's the right car. I know it, the same way I knew you would marry me.
Elaine: Whatever....
Ben and Elaine get a small apartment and make love to the tune, "All I Really Want to Do," but the honeymoon is short-lived, when Elaine realizes that technically she is still married to Carl. Over the next several weeks, Elaine wades through the ecclesiastical red tape of having her marriage to Carl annulled, tearing asunder what God hath joined together.
There is a knock at the door and Ben is arrested. The Robinsons are pressing charges for Breaking and Entering, Lewd Behavior, and Assault with a Deadly Crucifix. By this point, Ben's parents have cut him off, and he has to spend the last of their money on bail. As a result, Ben has to go with a public defender. [At this point, there is another note in the margin that reads, "I hear that Art Garfunkel was lined up to play the public defender. His Jew-Fro would be epic in the court scenes."]
In court, Ben is able to plea bargain the charge down to Defamation of a Cougar, a misdemeanor, for which he is given two years probation. By this time, Elaine has successfully had the marriage to Carl annulled. Ben is completely broke and near destitute. He has to pawn his sunglasses for the price of the marriage licence. Elaine puts on her wedding dress but bursts into tears when she finds it was torn badly when she stuffed in the shopping bag. Ben tries to console her:
Elaine [Sobbing uncontrollably]: Who wears a wedding dress to get married at the Justice of the Peace anyway?
Ben [In his slightly nasal whiny, but utterly sincere voice] But Elaine, you're beautiful, and I love you. And the tear hardly shows.... Provided you don't stand up.... Or sit down.... Or move.... Or stay still.... Or....
Elaine changes into normal clothes, and they get married in a somple civil ceremony.
Back in L.A., things are rocky for both sets of Ben and Elaine's parents. The legal firm of Braddock Robinson could not survive the strain of Elaine's father having to face the father of the man who broke up his marriage day in and day out. By this time, the Robinson divorce has become final. Elaine's father has seen the writing of the Sexual Revolution on the wall and switches from corporate to family law. Mrs. Robinson is forced to seek work and become the oldest Go-Go dancer on the Sunset Strip, where incidentally there is a steady supply of young lovers. Her life changes for the better one night after work, when she stumbles into an adult bookstore and discovers a battery-operated device imported from Sweden that is way better than any of the 20-year-old men she's ever been with.
For the Braddock's, things are much worse. Ben's father nearly drowns in 10 feet of water playing around with Ben's scuba gear. Ultimately, he comes to the realization that his partner, Mr. Robinson, had done all of the legal heavy lifting at the firm, and that he was more of a glad-hander, good with the poolside BBQs and not much of a lawyer. Unable to keep up the payments on their home, they move to a small condo in Culver City. Ultimately, Ben's father goes into the plastics business with his friend, Mr. McQuire. Ben's mother starts drinking heavily and take to seducing young men at the condo jacuzzi, while her husband slaves at the plastic factory.
Back at Ben and Elaine's, Elaine confesses to Ben that she is secretly resentful. She had been finishing her last 12 units of a summa cum laude degree in anthropology, when she had been ripped out of college by her parents, ripped out her wedding by Ben, and ripped her own wedding dress, all the same week. Had she never gone out with Ben, she could have been in Machu Picchu working on her masters degree at that point. Meanwhile, Ben has trouble finding work and spends long hours polishing his Edsel and looking longingly at the back seat. 
Ultimately, the strain is too much for Elaine and she borrows money from her father for plane fare to South America to continue her studies. From the plane, Elaine looks sadly out the window at the Andes Mountain range, as "Eight Miles High" plays. Despondent, Ben drives his Edsel to Berkeley erroneously thinking that Elaine had gone back to school there. As he drives up the picturesque California coastline, "Suite Judy Blue Eyes" plays. [At this point, there is a note in the margin that reads, "Wait, isn't that Crosby, Stills, and Nash?" Yes, Buck, it is.]
At Berkeley, Ben is unable to find Elaine and thinks that maybe she has gone back to Carl. He goes to the fraternity to discover that Carl has dropped out of school and established California's first gay commune in the hills above Livermore. Ben drives up to the compound and pounds on the gate, screaming, "Carl! Carl! Carl!"  The gate opens--

[The manuscript ends there midsentence. Afterwards, there are just three barely legible words, "Samurai Dry Cleaners."]

Document 2 [Screenplay fragment by an unknown writer]


FADE TO BLACK [EPILOGUE]
SERIES OF CAPTIONS: 
BEN'S FATHER SETTLED INTO A LUCRATIVE SECOND CAREER IN THE PLASTICS FIELD. HE PATENTED A NEW WATER PIPE DESIGN, THE CALI-BONG™, THAT SOLD SEVERAL MILLION UNITS IN THE 1970S. HE WAS LATER KILLED IN A FREAK BIC LIGHTER EXPLOSION.
DISSOLVE TO:
MR. ROBINSON WENT ON TO BECOME ONE OF HOLLYWOOD'S LEADING DIVORCE ATTORNEYS. HE RECEIVED NOTORIETY IN  THE "PALIMONY" CASE AS MICHELLE TRIOLA MARVIN'S COUNSEL IN AN UNSUCCESSFUL BID TO WIN A FINANCIAL SETTLEMENT FROM ACTOR LEE MARVIN. AT THE FUNERAL OF BEN'S FATHER, MR. ROBINSON BECAME SMITTEN WITH BEN'S MOTHER. THOUGH THEY NEVER MARRIED, THEY LIVED TOGETHER HAPPILY FOR THE REMAINDER OF THEIR LIVES ON A VINEYARD IN THE NAPA VALLEY.
DISSOLVE TO:
MRS. ROBINSON JOINED ALCOHOLICS ANONYMOUS AND STOPPED DRINKING. THROUGH SHREWD INVESTMENTS, SHE RALLIED HER DIVORCE SETTLEMENT INTO VAST REAL ESTATE HOLDINGS THROUGHOUT CALIFORNIA INCLUDING A 12-ACRE ESTATE IN MALIBU. 
DISSOLVE TO ADDITIONAL (MRS. ROBINSON) TEXT:
 AS FANCY STRUCK HER, MRS. ROBINSON CONTINUED TO  SEDUCE YOUNG SURFERS WELL INTO HER NINETIES.
DISSOLVE TO: 
ELAINE ROBINSON-BRADDOCK RETURNED TO BERKELEY AND DIVORCED BEN. SHE FINISHED HER UNDERGRADUATE STUDIES AND RECEIVED HER MASTERS DEGREE IN ANTHROPOLOGY WITH A THESIS ON THE MARITAL CUSTOMS OF THE ANCIENT INCANS. SHE LATER REMARRIED AND NOW LIVES HAPPILY WITH HER HUSBAND IN STEPFORD, CONNECTICUT.
DISSOLVE TO:
BEN BRADDOCK NEVER RECOVERED FROM HIS BREAKUP WITH ELAINE. HE MADE HIS WAY BACK EAST ON THE PROMISE OF A JOB FROM AN OLD COLLEGE BUDDY. WHEN THE JOB DIDN'T PAN OUT, HE BECAME A STREET HUSTLER AND MOVED INTO A CONDEMNED TENEMENT. HE MET A GOOD-LOOKING COWBOY WHO FANCIED HIMSELF A GIGOLO. WHEN BEN'S HEALTH FAILED, THE COWBOY TOOK HIM TO FLORIDA. HE NEVER MADE IT.
THE END 

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