July 26, 2021

The sentence that Anne Bancroft had to pay for playing Mrs. Robinson in ‘The Graduate’

By Teresa Aranguez.- Sometimes things are not as they seem. But thanks to the magic of cinema the impossible becomes possible. What happens in front of the cameras is not necessarily what happens behind them. There are romances of the seventh art that made us believe in eternal love while their actors threw the tackle at their heads. Or scenes that seem to come out of a fairy tale but whose shooting was a real nightmare. Something similar happened to a great lady of cinema named Anne Bancroft, which these days would have turned 87 if it had not been for uterine cancer took her in 2005, leaving a great void on the big screen and in the hearts of those who love movies.

Dustin Hoffman y Anne Bancroft en El Graduado (1967, © Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Studios Inc. All Rights Reserved.)

Everything about her was unforgettable. His nostalgic smile, his elegance when he speaks, his seductive gaze and, of course, his always impeccable work. No award, not the Oscar, Golden Globe or BAFTA, resisted him, and he even won a Tony in his beginnings in the theater. He did everything and with honors. His first film came to him at the age of 21, Fog in the soul, junto a Marilyn Monroe, and since then he has not stopped making movies. The camera fell in love with her untraditional and masculine beauty, becoming one of the most sought-after actresses in this separate universe called Hollywood.

However, trapped by its powerful claws, the actress also became one of its great victims. It happened with the arrival of a role that would represent a before and after in his life (we do not know if for better or for worse), that of the mature Mrs. Robinson in The graduateby director Mike Nichols. She was barely 35 years old, but social prejudices and Hollywood managed to transform her into the physical representation of the word ‘cougar’, the mature woman who seduces younger people. Thus, he got into the skin of a woman in her 40s who is bitter in her marriage and makes eyes at her daughter’s innocent and redolent boyfriend, played by Dustin Hoffman. When he was only 6 years younger than her in real life. It was a young promise that until then no one knew and whose passage through the arms of Anne gave her her passport to stardom. History almost touched the scandal by the subject and the time. Married woman, fond of alcohol and tobacco, is unfaithful to her husband with her daughter’s suitor. All the ingredients to become a box office bombshell and a benchmark of the seventh art. But also in the curse of Anne.

This story would serve as a reference for later titles such as Malena, La Luna, The Reader O The pianist, where mature women have relationships with much younger men. Although none with the scope and footprint as its original.

An imprint that was quite a chore for the actress since, as expected, she would be pigeonholed in the roles of a mature, bitter woman with impossible loves and stormy relationships. Hollywood, then doubly macho and absolute terrain of testosterone, inadvertently castrated his talent and closed the doors to other roles. But she, an intelligent woman with very clear ideas, refused to repeat the same pattern and said no to all the characters that were related to Mrs. Robinson. This was told by journalist Douglas K. Daniel, author of the biographical book Anne Bancroft: A Life. “She stayed away from those kinds of roles. He realized that people always wanted to talk about Mrs. Robinson. Over the years she got tired because she felt that she had other very good characters who were overshadowed by this one for how well he did and for how popular the movie was”, He expressed in his pages. And he was absolutely right. His success became a kind of condemnation.

It was already past 60, with the maturity and experience that the years give that he managed to reconcile with him and with Mrs. Robinson, who was still a poor woman with frustrated dreams that she could never come to fulfill due to the conventional and boring life that he had to exercise. Funny and always charming, she openly confessed it to journalist Charlie Rose in a pleasant chat. To the question of, do you like The graduate? Anne responded as only she could. “I like it now. When we were doing it, I encountered so many problems that I experienced many conflicts ”, expressed sincerely.

Anne Bancroft (Agency: RadialRP; Author: RP; Copyright: GTRES)

Anne Bancroft (Agency: RadialRP; Author: RP; Copyright: GTRES)

Remember that when she read the script, she was immediately hooked on the story, she was excited and eager to embark on the adventure. Until something stopped her. “I thought it would be very easy to take off my clothes and go naked.”She said of the script scene where she had to show herself how God brought her into the world in front of Dustin. But nothing to see. “When the day came that I had to do it I couldn’t, I just couldn’t”. And not only that, she also got sick with pneumonia, in part, and according to her, from all the pressure, so her nude was finally done by a doppelganger. “I didn’t know I couldn’t do it until the time came “. His refusal angered even the prompter, especially the director, but she did not care, her instincts and her well-being were above any script. The matter was settled but that malaise haunted him for a long time. Even he flatly refused to see the movie back thenIt was not until years later that he managed to sit down to enjoy it from beginning to end and appreciate its beauty, both physical and acting. Fortunately, that gray chapter did not cloud the happiness that Anne was able to enjoy personally.

Unlike his famous character, she did know true love. She did it at the hand of her second husband, the great Mel Brooks with whom he married in 1964 and remained united until his departure from cancer, the only battle that the actress could not win. According to Daniel, the author of his biography, those who knew them assured that theirs was a movie love, and never better said. The comic writer and the dramatic actress immediately clicked with their opposite personalities. “They were both divorced, older, more mature, and had a better understanding of marriage.”He wrote on its pages.

Mel was precisely the one who was by his side when in the 80s he had his first outbreak of cancer. A painful subject that he preferred to take in private so that the press did not echo it. It was a delicate matter and that is how he felt it should be dealt with. The illness came and went intermittently but it was not an excuse to stop working. He kept giving everything, you just have to take a look at one of his star roles in the masterful Big hopes by Alfonso Cuarón where he shared plans with Gwyneth Paltrow and Ethan Hawke. Hope was precisely one of the great values ​​that reigned in the life of this tireless warrior, whom we find smiling in all her interviews. He never gave up and always aspired to excel in everything. She more than succeeded as an actress and as a woman. She slapped Hollywood full-blown and decided to venture out to do what made her happy.

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