The film The Graduate opens at two theaters in New York: the Coronet on Third Avenue and the Lincoln Art Theater on Broadway. The film, based on a 1963 novel by Charles Webb, had a simple premise: As its screenwriter explained it, “this kid graduates college, has an affair with his parents’ best friend, and then falls in love with the friend’s daughter.” (It was, he added, “the best pitch I ever heard.”) In other words, The Graduate was an uneasy exploration of what it meant to be young and adrift at a time of extraordinary confusion and upheaval. Anne Bancroft and Dustin Hoffman starred.
The film was a hit: The New Yorker called it “the biggest success in the history of movies,” while The Saturday Review said it was “not merely a success; it has become a phenomenon.” It earned $35 million in the first six months it was onscreen (by contrast, it cost just $3 million to make) and became the highest-grossing movie of 1968.
The movie also made a star out of Benjamin Braddock’s graduation present: a bright-red Alfa Romeo Duetto Spider. Alfa Romeo had been making racecars for decades—even Enzo Ferrari drove an Alfa before he began building his own racers—but had never sold very many in the United States. (American customers preferred larger cars, and when they did buy smaller sports cars they tended to buy them from British manufacturers like MG and Triumph.) But the 1967 Duetto Spider, a two-seat convertible roadster, was a real beauty: It had a sharp nose and a rounded, tapered rear end, glass-covered headlights, and what designers called a “classic scallop” running down the side.