Revolutionary Road (2003): Columbia University at the Movies–DiCaprio

Columbia, Mon Amour

The great Columbia University is my Alma Mater: M.Phil and Ph.D. in Sociology and Film (President’s Fellow)

I have also taught at Columbia’s Department of Sociology for about a decade, 1983-1991, courses such in the Sociology of Film, Film and Society, and Politics and Society.

I had spent several sabbaticals at Columbia’s School of the Arts (Film Division) and Sociology Department.

In 2010-2011, I was honored to replace my mentor, the great Andrew Sarris, when he was too ill-disposed to teach his classes in French New Wave and International Cinema of the 1930s.

Characters (in films and books) who attended Morningside Heights campus.

DiCaprio plays Frank Wheeler, a restless New York City salesman who, according to the book, studied at Columbia College.



Kate Winslet and Leonardo DiCaprio in Revolutionary Road
Kate Winslet and Leonardo DiCaprio in “Revolutionary Road.”

Released in 2008, Revolutionary Road is based on the 1961 Richard Yates novel about middle-class malaise in 1950s suburbia.

The drama marked the first (and still only) reunion of DiCaprio and Kate Winslet as romantic leads since Titanic.


Laura Linney and Topher Grace in "P.S."
Laura Linney and Topher Grace in “P.S.” (© 2004 Newmarket Films)

In P.S., a 2004 film based on the novel by Helen Schulman ’86SOA, Topher Grace plays F. Scott Feinstadt, an applicant to Columbia’s School of the Arts who has an (extremely unethical) affair with an admissions officer, played by Laura Linney.

At the end of the escapade, Feinstadt receives an acceptance letter.


Chris Rock in "I Think I Love My Wife"
Chris Rock in “I Think I Love My Wife.”

In the 2007 rom-com I Think I Love My Wife, Chris Rock plays Richard Cooper, a married banking professional who flirts with infidelity when he reconnects with an attractive old friend, played by Kerry Washington. A Columbia diploma displayed in Cooper’s office reveals that he’s an alumnus.


Scarlett Johansson in "The Nanny Diaries"
Scarlett Johansson in “The Nanny Diaries.”

At the end of The Nanny Diaries, a 2007 comedy based on the book by Emma McLaughlin and Nicola Kraus, Annie Braddock (Scarlett Johansson) leaves her stressful job as an Upper East Side nanny and applies to graduate school for a master’s in anthropology. Although Columbia isn’t explicitly mentioned, Braddock is shown holding application materials while sitting on a fountain outside Low Library.


Rani Mukerji and Saif Ali Khan in "Ta Ra Rum Pum."
Rani Mukerji and Saif Ali Khan in “Ta Ra Rum Pum.”

It’s rare for Columbia to be mentioned in a Bollywood film, but in the 2007 Indian hit Ta Ra Rum Pum, Rani Mukerji plays Radhika Banerjee Singh, a pianist who meets her future racecar-driver husband while studying in the University’s music program.