101 Funniest Screenplays

“I always thought The Graduate was the best pitch I ever heard: this kid graduates college, has an affair with his parents’ best friend, and then falls in love with the friend’s daughter. Give that to 20 writers and you’ve got 20 scripts,” Buck Henry told Vanity Fair in 2008. Henry was a co-creator and writer on the TV series Get Smart when he was brought onto The Graduate. Calder Willingham had done a draft of the novel by Charles Webb. Though not Jewish, the main character Benjamin Braddock became all the more so with the auditioning of a young Dustin Hoffman in the lead (Maybe he’s Jewish inside,” Hoffman said Nichols suggested of Ben). The way Hoffman embodied the character, Nichols said, helped crystallize his dark comedy of youthful ennui and otherness in sun-kissed Southern California. It was Henry who came up with the script’s most enduring word: “Plastics.”