What Were We Thinking? Hello, Mr. Hunter, Our Old Friend

From the ever-so-provocative pen of one Tim M. Hunter ’68—whose takedown of “Rosemary’s Baby” we scorned five weeks ago—comes more fodder for this feature, soon to be retitled in his honor “Letters to a Young Contrarian, Namely Tim Hunter.” In a 1968 Crimson review, Hunter brought his scorched-earth fervor against 1967’s “The Graduate,” as exemplified by his critique: “[Director Mike] Nichols dabbles in film-making the way Westchester housewives spend their afternoons painting by numbers.” On a related note, Nichols won Best Director for “The Graduate” that year. Hunter’s critique overlooks the subtle self-satire central to Nichols’ melodrama.

Firstly, Hunter demonstrates remarkable foresight of the internet concept of “in b4 the haters”—a phrase used by commentators to predict and defend their claims before the caissons of internet “trolls” start rolling in—by claiming that “‘The Graduate’ ought to be seen, if only to keep tabs on a film that can fool all of the people all of the time.” Reasonably put—if you disagree with Hunter, you are a fool.

Besides granting himself the intellectual legitimacy of Socrates, Hunter also enjoys amateur meta-writing as in his summary statement: “The picture’s potentially promising plot premise purports to be the problem of two people falling in love.” Hunter may be attempting to satirize clichéd devices by using awkward alliteration to reflect a formulaic plot; really, though, it just sounds as if someone is providing a potentially prevaricated picture of his intellectual wick.

Speaking of satire, it seems as if Hunter didn’t understand that “The Graduate” was one. Asking why Dustin Hoffman seems inconsistent throughout the film is like asking why there is no fighting in the War Room; claiming that Nichols is not Hitchcock because not every “shot relates to the film as a whole” is ignoring the film’s theme of meaninglessness and moral drifting in So-Cal culture in the 1960s. Hunter is expecting Fellini in Los Angeles, and calling the filming “self-conscious” due to Nichols not having “enough knowledge of craft to successfully execute [ideas]” when the opening scene is Dustin Hoffman on a moving walkway in LAX floating along to “The Sound of Silence” is, again, missing the point—this film was meant to be self-pitying, a satire, fake insomuch as real. It just seems that while Hunter’s sacrilege might fool all of the people most of the time, he dabbles in writing the way teen photographers frame their best Instagram shots.

—Staff writer Christine A. Hurd can be reached at churd@college.harvard.edu

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