Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?
  • Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?
  • Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?

Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?

5.0 3
Director: Mike Nichols

Cast: Elizabeth Taylor, Richard Burton, George Segal

     
 

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"You are cordially invited to George and Martha's for an evening of fun and games." Thus read the ad copy for Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf, which in 1966 went farther than any previous big-studio film in its use of profanity and sexual implication. George (Richard Burton) is an alcoholic college professor; Martha (Oscar-winner Elizabeth Taylor) is his viragoSee more details below

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Overview

"You are cordially invited to George and Martha's for an evening of fun and games." Thus read the ad copy for Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf, which in 1966 went farther than any previous big-studio film in its use of profanity and sexual implication. George (Richard Burton) is an alcoholic college professor; Martha (Oscar-winner Elizabeth Taylor) is his virago of a wife. George and Martha know just how to push each other's buttons, with George having a special advantage: he need only mention the couple's son to send Martha into orbit. This evening, the couple's guests are Nick (George Segal), a junior professor, and Honey (Sandy Dennis), Nick's child-like wife. After an evening of sadistic (and sometimes perversely hilarious) "fun and games," the truth about George and Martha's son comes to light. First staged on Broadway in 1962 with Uta Hagen and Arthur Hill, Edward Albee's play was adapted for the screen by Ernest Lehman, who managed to retain virtually all of Albee's scatological epithets (this was the first American film to feature the expletive "goddamn"). Lehman opened up the play by staging one of George's speeches in the backyard, and by relocating the film's second act to a roadside inn (he also added four lines--"all bad," according to Albee). Thanks to the box-office clout of stars Taylor and Burton, not to mention the titilation factor of hearing all those naughty words on the big screen, Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf was a hit, and it won 5 Oscars, including awards for Taylor and Dennis, though it lost Best Picture to A Man for All Seasons. First-time director Mike Nichols lost the Oscar, but this movie gave him a perfect transition from his stage work and established him as a hot young Hollywood director, leading to his acclaimed (and Oscar-winning) work on his next movie, The Graduate.

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Editorial Reviews

Barnes & Noble - Bruce Kluger
Mike Nichols (The Graduate) made one of the most auspicious directorial debuts in the history of cinema with his screen version of Edward Albee's emotionally volatile domestic drama. A relentless assault of wrenching revelations and barked expletives that had knocked Broadway theatergoers out of their seats three years earlier, Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? won five Oscars, with nominations going to every member of the cast. (Elizabeth Taylor won for Best Actress; Sandy Dennis for Best Supporting Actress.) The film is a superb showcase for screen veterans Taylor and Richard Burton, who deliver tour-de-force performances as Albee's vituperative protagonists: George, an alcoholic college professor, and Martha, his loud and emasculating wife. Throughout the course of a liquor-drenched evening, the couple reveal to each other -- and their guests, played by Dennis and George Segal -- the dark and ugly truths about their marriage. Nichols and screenwriter Ernest Lehman were successful in retaining the play's salty language, which at the time of the movie's 1966 release was considered quite racy. By opening up the play just enough to keep movie audiences riveted, while remaining faithful to Albee's searing material, Nichols created an unforgettable portrait of a dysfunctional marriage.
All Movie Guide
Seething with acidic ill will and unmitigated vitriol, Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? remains one of the cinema's most honest, affecting trips down the corpse-strewn path of marital dysfunction. Adapted for the screen from Edward Albee's play (deemed the "best American play of the last decade" by The New York Times), it was a scathing, uncompromising drama that on its release earned almost as much controversy as kudos. Much of this controversy emanated from the filmmakers' refusal to delete the expletives--scatalogical and otherwise--that marked the original play. Controversy aside, Who's Afraid represented the remarkably accomplished movie directing debut of Mike Nichols and featured spectacular performances. The only film at that point in history to have its entire main cast nominated for Academy Awards, Who's Afraid elicited Oscar-winning turns from Elizabeth Taylor and Sandy Dennis. Taylor in particular did some of the best work of her career, screaming, bullying, and scheming her way across the screen with raw, full-bodied anger. Both imposing and pathetic, her Martha remains one of the more astonishing examples of an avenging harpy that the screen has to offer. Aside from boasting such fine work from its leads, Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? became known as one of the most successful examples of stage-to-screen adaptation. Much of this was due to Ernest Lehman's script, which remained scrupulously faithful to the original material, and the legendary Haskell Wexler's gorgeous black-and-white cinematography. Above all, Who's Afraid owed its success to Nichols' direction, here comprising one of the screen's most self-assured and controlled debuts.

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Product Details

Release Date:
11/09/2010
UPC:
0883929157877
Original Release:
1966
Rating:
R
Source:
Warner Home Video
Region Code:
1
Presentation:
[Full Frame, Wide Screen]
Time:
2:11:00
Sales rank:
9,615

Special Features

Closed Caption; Two Commentaries: 1- Directors Mike Nichols and Steven Soderbergh; 2 - Cinematographer Haskell Wexler

Cast & Crew

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Scene Index

Disc #1 -- Who's Afraid Of Virginia Woolf?
1. Moonlight Walk and Credits [3:51]
2. What a Dump! [4:05]
3. Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? [6:02]
4. Early Sunday Guests [6:36]
5. Merely Exercising [5:11]
6. Someone's Birthday [4:10]
7. Boxing Match [5:22]
8. Potshot [3:08]
9. Our Son, Her Flop [6:52]
10. Up and Down [5:08]
11. Grandest Day [5:15]
12. Quicksand Warning [1:19]
13. Coming at Him [8:07]
14. Dancing at the Diner [3:39]
15. Get the Guests [5:40]
16. Total War [5:47]
17. Locked Out [5:51]
18. Death in the Family [3:09]
19. Sad, Sad, Sad [4:36]
20. Truth or Illusion [8:02]
21. One Last Game [6:11]
22. Excorcism Rite [3:13]
23. Requiescat in Pace [5:48]
24. Party's Over [6:12]
25. I Am [2:11]
26. Exit Music [3:33]

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