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Who's Afraid Of Virginia Woolf? 1966

4.6 out of 5 stars (87) IMDb 8.1/10

A bitter aging couple with the help of alcohol, use a young couple to fuel anguish and emotional pain towards each other.

Elizabeth Taylor, Richard Burton
2 hours, 5 minutes

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Product Details

Genres Drama
Director Mike Nichols
Starring Elizabeth Taylor, Richard Burton
Supporting actors George Segal, Sandy Dennis, Agnes Flanagan, Frank Flanagan
Studio Warner Bros.
BBFC rating Suitable for 15 years and over
Purchase rights Stream instantly Details
Format Amazon Video (streaming online video)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: VHS Tape
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.
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Format: DVD Verified Purchase
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.
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Format: DVD
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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