"Seduced by Mrs. Robinson" by Beverly Gray.

"Seduced by Mrs. Robinson" by Beverly Gray. Credit: Algonquin

It’s been 50 years since Dustin Hoffman got an education in sexual chemistry from Anne Bancroft in Mike Nichols’ groundbreaking movie “The Graduate.” To mark that milestone comes Beverly Gray’s “Seduced by Mrs. Robinson” (Algonquin, $24.95), an insightful look at the making of the movie.

Most interesting is the section devoted to casting, in particular, the role of Mrs. Robinson. Early contenders included Ava Gardner, Jeanne Moreau and Doris Day. Although America’s favorite girl next door wrote in her autobiography that she turned it down because she couldn’t see herself in the role, Gray notes that Day’s manager-husband never even showed her the script. Bancroft wasn’t originally considered because she was only 35.

Front-runners for Hoffman’s role included Charles Grodin, whom it was decided lacked the emotional underpinnings, and Robert Redford, who lost out when Nichols asked him when was the last time he struck out with the opposite sex and the actor replied, “What do you mean?”

There are also juicy tidbits on the working and reworking of the script and how that final deadpan shot of Hoffman and Katharine Ross on the bus came to be. Prepare to be seduced by Gray’s book.

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