Released in 1967, Mike Nichols’ film “The Graduate” is consistently ranked as one of the top movies of all time, and is one of the highest grossing films of all time, when adjusted for inflation.
Starring Dustin Hoffman as recent college graduate Benjamin Braddock and Anne Bancroft as the seductive Mrs. Robinson, the film garnered seven Academy Award nominations, including Best Picture, Best Actor (Hoffman), Best Actress (Bancroft) and Best Director, which Nichols won.
Less known is “The Penn Graduate,” a comic strip parody of the film created by former Penn student Jerry Lukas.
In Lukas’ version, which ran in an April 1968 edition of the Daily Pennsylvanian, Hoffman’s Benjamin character is renamed “Pennjamin” and he is on a quest to beat the draft and avoid being sent to Vietnam.
Mrs. Robinson is replaced with Dean Robbinson [sic], dean of the College for Women. She is less concerned with seducing Pennjamin than with stopping any potential Rowbottoms.
(According to the University Archives, from the early 1900s to the early 1980s, a Rowbottom was an “unpredictable and sometimes unfortunate outlet for youthful energies” that also served as a rallying call for mass student disturbances.)
Dean Robbinson is so anxious about a Rowbottom (“My job’s at stake if I don’t stop it,” she says} that she considers enrolling Pennjamin in the College for Women – as long as he provides her with information about any planned student mayhem.
Pennjamin has planned a Rowbottom, but Dean Robbinson finds out about it and confronts him. Unless he stops it, she warns that she will tell a “General Heresy” and see to it that Pennjamin is drafted.
Guest stars include Pennjamin’s girlfriend Lorraine and caricatures of Simon & Garfunkel, President Lyndon Johnson, Philadelphia Mayor James Tate (called “Mayor Dictate”) and Police Commissioner Frank Rizzo.
For more information about historical events at Penn, visit the University Archives at www.archives.upenn.edu.
Originally published on September 17, 2009