I can hardly believe what I'm reading. The 'hippie' scene is my favorite scene in my all-time favorite movie! I have no trouble believing Doris and George could change so drastically in one year's time. Just look at the changes that were taking place in this country during that period. It doesn't surprise me that a liberal like Doris would be transformed by attending college in Berkeley in the 60's. Many people were. Just look at the changes that took place in this country from 1961 to 1966. And UC Berkeley was one of the most liberal, anti-war campus's in the nation.
George's transformation is even easier to understand. The man lost his oldest child and favorite son in the Vietnam. He hasn't been able to grieve because he is trying to stay strong for his family. He and his family moved to Beverly Hills after his son was killed. He became a 'business manager' because there are a lot of people there who have a lot of money and don't know what to do with it. That sounds like a pretty conservative, establishment type of career to me. Remember the sentiment during the Vietman war: many people who lost loved ones in that war felt their loved ones had died in vain if the US lost the war and therefore opposed the war protesters agenda of withdrawal. (Not unlike the Iraq war today. I imagine there are many people who have lost someone in Iraq who will cheer when the President announces tonight that he's sending more troops).
Re: WarPedRecord's remarks: I thought the the argument over the war symbolized the great division that existed in this country at that time, with George as a hawk and Doris as a dove. Remember, both the hawks and the doves wanted to end the war, but they had polar opposite views on how to accomplish that feat. And as for Doris being 'a bit old to be carrying on like that'; I assume you mean dressing like a 'hippie' and attending demonstrations and protests. I had no trouble buying that either. But then, I'm a 50-something year old college student and anti-war protester who never really stopped dressing like a 'hippie', so I guess it was easier for me.
I think this is the most powerful scene in the movie. It's the only scene that is foreshadowed in a previous scene. In the first scene, when George and Doris are looking at pictures of each other's kid's, Doris asks George about a picture of Michael. She asks him, 'What's he want to be? Superman?' George answers, 'No, Peter Pan'. Michael was shot by a sniper as he was helping a wounded soldier onto a Red Cross helicopter (rescuing someone, as Superman so often does). (Even more heroic if he was there covering the war for the AP, who hired him 5 years earlier). But alas, he dies young and will never grow to a ripe old age. Although Michael was a young adult at the time, I'm sure you can see the symbolism of Peter Pan, the boy who never grew up. It's also the only scene that doesn't fade from Color to Black & White at the end. That was done because this is such a significant scene.