Home > Films > G > The Graduate

Thursday July 18th 2024

The Graduate | 1967

The Graduate filming location: United Methodist Church, LaVerne
The Graduate location: Benjamin disrupts the wedding: United Methodist Church, LaVerne

Locations are scattered along the California coast as Dustin Hoffman shoots to stardom in a role intended for Robert Redford, while Anne Bancroft creates a such a screen monster that it's impossible to imagine Doris Day (the first choice) in the role.

Mike Nichols’ stylish direction keeps the movie afloat long after younger films have got creaky with age. And how many times have you seen parodies, homages and plain rip-offs of the climax, with Benjamin hammering on the glass to disrupt Elaine’s wedding?

The ‘Taft Hotel’, where graduate Benjamin Braddock (Hoffman) conducts an illicit affair with neighbour Mrs Robinson (Anne Bancroft), was the old Ambassador Hotel, which stood at 3400 Wilshire Boulevard, midtown Los Angeles.

Grease film location: Ambassador Hotel, Wilshire Boulevard, midtown Los Angeles
The Graduate location: Benjamin and Mrs Robinson meet up at the ‘Taft Hotel’: Ambassador Hotel, Wilshire Boulevard, midtown Los Angeles

The hotel closed in 1989, living on as a much-used movie location until finally – and scandalously – being demolished in 2006. It played host to countless films over the years, including Oliver Stone’s The Doors, Devil In A Blue Dress, True Romance, L.A. Story, S.W.A.T., Rocky and Se7en. And, of course, the kitchen was the site of the assassination of Robert Kennedy in 1968 (fittingly, Emilio Estevez's Bobby was the last film to have scenes filmed at the hotel).

The Graduate location: North Palm Drive, Beverly Hills
The Graduate location: the house of Mrs Robinson: North Palm Drive, Beverly Hills

Benjamin is aiming high. Mrs Robinson – wouldn’t you know it – lives in Beverly Hills. The Robinsons’ house is 607 North Palm Drive, between Sunset and Santa Monica Boulevards.

The university, attended by Benjamin’s real love, who happens to be Mrs Robinson’s daughter Elaine (Katharine Ross), is supposedly ‘Berkeley’, over the Bay from San Francisco. For the most part, though, it’s the spacious Romanesque campus of the University of Southern California (USC), Jefferson Boulevard, bounded by Vermont Avenue, Exposition Boulevard and Figueroa Street, south of downtown Los Angeles.

The Graduate location:  fountain at the Doheny Memorial Library, University of Southern California, Los Angeles
The Graduate location: Benjamin waits for Elaine: fountain at the Doheny Memorial Library, University of Southern California, Los Angeles

The fountain, alongside which Benjamin mopes about waiting for Elaine, is in front of the Edward L Doheny Jr Memorial Library, between Hoover Boulevard and Childs Way. Elaine’s dorm is the Von Kleinsmid Center of International and Public Affairs at USC.

The real Berkeley does make a showing, though. Benjamin drives south over the double-decker Oakland Bay Bridge, which is actually away from Oakland (if he had driven toward Oakland he would have been on the bridge’s lower deck, and therefore invisible).

Elaine walks through Sproul Plaza, and the frat house is Theta Delta Chi Fraternity House, 2647 Durant Avenue between Bowditch and College.

Benjamin follows Elaine to her meeting by the Monkey House in San Francisco Zoo, south of the Sunset district, seen also in David Fincher’s The Game.

The modernist church, where the wedding is finally disrupted by Benjamin hammering on the glass wall, is not in ‘Santa Barbara’ at all. It’s the United Methodist Church of La Verne, 3205 D Street, La Verne, about 30 miles east of downtown Los Angeles.