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22 of 24 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon 30 May 2008
The movie is a 1966 film adaptation of the play of the same name by Edward Albee. It was the first film directed by Mike Nichols, and starred Elizabeth Taylor as Martha and Richard Burton as George, with George Segal as Nick and Sandy Dennis as Honey.The film version differs slightly from the play. The play features only four characters, while in the film there are two other minor characters

George, a disillusioned academic, and Martha, his caustic wife, have just come home from a faculty party. When a handsome young professor and his mousy wife stop by for a nightcap, an innocent night of fun and games quickly turns dark and dangerous. Long-buried resentment and rage are unleashed as George and Martha turn their rapier-sharp wits against each other, using their guests as pawns in their verbal sparring. By night's end, the secrets of both couples are uncovered and the lies they cling to are exposed.

14 Oscar nominations and 5 Oscar wins, including Elizabeth Taylor as Best Actress in a Leading Role give alraedy a clear indictaion that this is an outstanding movie.The choice of Taylor -- at the time regarded as one of the most beautiful women in the world, to play the frumpy, fifty-ish Martha surprised many, but the actress gained thirty pounds for the role and her performance.The film was considered groundbreaking for having a level of profanity and sexual implication unheard of at that time. Of course, that is not any longer the case. But the acting remains superb. Taylor & Burton were a couple in life and their ups and downs, two divorces and marriages cannot forgotten and deliver the background for thsi movie. One can imagine scenes likes this in their own lives. Elizabeth Taylor's stunning beaty will never be forgotten, but one should always remember she was and is a first rated actress.
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31 of 34 people found the following review helpful
on 1 November 2009
There are several DVD transfers available on this site. I haven't seen the others, but this version is beautifully clear, with excellent sound. There's commentary from director Mike Nichols and cinematographer Haskell Wexler, no mean director in his own right Medium Cool [DVD] [1969] [Region 1] [US Import] [NTSC].

Whenever I get into the same old argument with a young sprog about whether Elizabeth Taylor can act, I always give them "Who's Afraid..?" It is unanswerable. She is pitch perfect. Every nuance, every gesture, every intonation is there. Oscars often go to the wrong person, but this performance blew all others in 1966 out of the water, and got Liz her second. There are several extended takes where the camera is metaphorically on its knees to her, and rightly so. Her intensity will have your heart in your mouth. It should however be noted that Burton as husband George matches her in his more solid, understated way, and provides the bedrock which allows her to fly.

It's also worth saying that although this is an adaptation of a stage play, it avoids most suggestions of stageyness, apart from too many melodramatic statements of Total War (Albee's fault, not the director's). It works brilliantly as a film. The images are beautifully composed, particularly long shots in the garden of characters alone in the dark, calling like lost children. At the time it came out, Nichols was much criticised for opening the play out, but doing so adds richness. The garden is a place of desolation and confession; the little roadside bar just another claustrophobic venue for George and Martha to drag their misery into. The camera is always at the right place, looking at the right things, and the editing is as sharp as a button.

So powerful are the central performances that many viewers took the film for autobiography and imagine that the Burton-Taylor relationship was really like this. So it's worth insisting that this is not some kind of therapeutic or self-indulgent psychodrama for the principals, but superlative craft from two supreme practitioners. It is also, finally, a love story, and the need these two damaged characters have for each other is ultimately very moving.
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39 of 43 people found the following review helpful
on 18 July 2002
Edward Albee's "Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?" is one of the most important plays in the history of American Drama, representing a sort of merging of the psychological drama represented by Tennessee Williams and Arthur Miller with the existential plays of Samuel Becket and Eugene Ionesco. After a faculty party George (Richard Burton) and Martha (Elizabeth Taylor) have invited a young professor, Nick (George Segal) and his wife Honey (Sandy Dennis), back for a few drinks. What happens is ironically described as fun and games, which end up airing everyone's dirty laundry in a compelling death spiral of brutal confrontations.
All four players were nominated for Oscars, with both of the ladies winning in the finest ensemble performance since "Long Day's Journey Into Night." Burton lost to Paul Schofield in "A Man for All Seasons" and Segal to Walter Matthau in "The Fortune Cookie." Haskell Wexler also earned a richly deserved Oscar for Best Black-and-White Cinematography. I think this is clearly Elizabeth Taylor's best film performance (Burton's too). I remember someone asking Katharine Hepburn if she thought any other actress had ever shown a range comparable to herself and she mentioned Taylor. It makes sense. They have both done plays by William Shakespeare, Tennessee Williams, and Albee. Not even Meryl Streep can say that.
The film does have one major problem, which Albee himself has repeatedly pointed out, namely, it was a mistake director Mike Nichols to let the two couples leave the house and go to a roadhouse in the middle of Act II. The play is a one set play, of course, and Albee consider the claustrophobia it produced part of its main effect. By getting them away from the house, or even having George and Nick have their big talk from Act III out in the backyard, the idea that Nick and Honey are trapped with no way out. But I think this is something that bothers people who have studied the play intimately more than fans of the cinema.
Most Romantic Lines: Yeah, right. I think the nicest thing Martha says to George is "You make me puke," and the most famous line from the play, "What a dump," is taken from a Bette Davis movie (Yes, I know which one, but, no, I am not telling).
If you like "Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?" then check out these other films on AFI's list: #84 "Double Indemnity" and #48 "Last Tango in Paris." Why? They are also tales of twisted love.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 26 August 2013
What a performance from Elizabeth taylor and Richard Burton This is a master class
in acting the intensity is electrifying A brilliant movie. The black and white camera shots
adds to the tension Excellent
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 24 June 2013
I don't think I would watch this film again, however it was well-acted by all 4 actors involved. Burton and Taylor are brilliant. It was a very dark/bizarre film. I had no prior knowledge of what the film was about before seeing it, I wanted to see it due to the fact that the reviews are really good and I believe Taylor received an oscar for this role. For the money the film was worth a watch.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon 26 October 2013
No question that Taylor & Burton deliver brilliant performances, and she is well worthy of her Oscar. But the play itself feels dated. While beyond the screaming and the cruelty it is a powerful piece. But the central plot device is rather odd, and ultimately it is 2 hours in the company of 4 unpleasant drunks. Worth watching for Taylor alone, but for me it hasn't aged well.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 20 October 2013
It's what you think it will be - an acting tour de force by Taylor et al but not a very interesting piece in itself.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 19 September 2013
One of the real classics. Burton and Taylor at their withering best. I've ordered The Comediennes to go with it.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 10 March 2014
Burton and Taylor in this classic film is a master class of two masters. The commentary gives nice insights into to production at the time.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 22 April 2014
A classic Burton Taylor tour de force
A lot of narrative if you can take it
Worth the oscars they got
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