It’s since been memorialized as one of the signature films of the ’60s, but in many ways The Graduate (screening today through April 19 at Film Forum) actually stands well apart from the youth-driven revolt that the decade has come to represent, according to Bethlehem Shoals.

If, like me, you’re the child of Boomers, Mrs. Robinson was an irresistible pop tune about an old lady long before Anne Bancroft polluted your mind. This distortion is telling; the idea of The Graduate was more important than the film itself, which wasn’t passed down. It became their movie, like Easy Rider, and I didn’t bother to watch it until college. Both of those films felt fiercely protected, somehow inviolate, wrapped up with a whole mess of concepts and feelings that don’t crop up in either movie. But The Graduate is useful when seen as a film that could only be made, or at least find a mass audience, right as American society opened up. It’s less radical than we want it to be in retrospect, perhaps, but then again, so was America.