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The 1960’s marked a big change in American cinema. With the fall down of the Hollywood Studio System came a deteriorating of censorship laws; sex and violence moved from shadows to the front of the conventional cinema. Although it quickly became clear that a market existed for such films, the earliest efforts to venture into the world of modern cinema were met with ambivalence. Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho, made in 1960, was one of the first of many to portray sexuality and violence in a graphic manner.

Psycho contained a frank depiction of sex and violence, unlike any mainstream film that had preceded it. And not only did Psycho portray two brutal murders, but the first one in the intimacy of the shower. As a result, Hitchcock had to battle to make the film as close to his vision as possible and find ways to work around restrictive laws.

The Graduate (1967) was a parody about a wretched, recent college graduate named Benjamin Braddock while in a relationship-affair with a middle-aged Mrs. Robinson and her daughter Elaine. In The Graduate (1967) Mrs. Robinson (Anne Bancroft) engages in double indiscretion by assuming the masculine role in seducing Ben (Dustin Hoffman), a man far too young for her. Her bossy, aggressive behavior proves too much for him—he feels like a fish trapped in a tank or a diver trapped underwater as Mike Nichols’ imagery shows us—so he leaves her for her daughter, Elaine (Katherine Ross). Elaine is much fragile, much more submissive than her mother. When he takes her to a strip bar, she breaks down and cries, illuminating her tender nature. Unlike her mother, Elaine promises not to be a threatening presence for Ben.

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