Arthur Penn, who directed Anne Bancroft in her Academy Award-winning role of Annie Sullivan in 1962’s "The Miracle Worker," said of her: "More happens in her face in ten seconds than happens in most women’s faces in ten years." She was only 36 when she played the bored, predatory Mrs. Robinson in "The Graduate," made up to look older and dissolute, and neatly stealing the film from beneath the young Dustin Hoffman‘s (himself already 30) nose. Bancroft as Mrs. Robinson proved so iconic the role still overshadows her other, very worthy, work. She said in 2003:
I am quite surprised that with all my work, and some of it is very, very good, that nobody talks about "The Miracle Worker." We’re talking about Mrs. Robinson. I understand the world, I’m just a little dismayed that people aren’t beyond it yet.
Revisiting the film, to which he originally gave four stars, for it’s thirty-year anniversary re-release, Roger Ebert found that Mrs. Robinson was the only character who endured in what was becoming a dated relic of an era:
Mrs. Robinson is the only person in the movie who is not playing old tapes. She is bored by a drone of a husband, she drinks too much, she seduces Benjamin not out of lust but out of kindness or desperation…She is also sardonic, satirical and articulate â€” the only person in the movie you would want to have a conversation with.