Sunday, February 28, 2010

Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?

Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? (1966) is a drama directed by Mike Nichols. The screenplay by Ernest Lehman is an adaptation of the play of the same title by Edward Albee.




The film stars Elizabeth Taylor, Richard Burton, George Segal and Sandy Dennis.

Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton play George and Martha, a middle aged married couple. George is a professor of History at a small New England College. Martha is the daughter of the President of the University.

George and Martha are a couple who have a marriage that is truly love-hate.






George Segal and Sandy Dennis play a young newly married couple, Nick and Honey. Nick is a new professor of Biology at the University.

Nick and Honey are invited to drinks at George and Martha's house after a party at the University.

As the film goes on the characters get drunker, angrier and some painful secrets are revealed.

George is initially seen with a certain meekness which gives way to a raging psychological torment all his own.

Martha is a cruedly boisterous hard drinking woman who launches into many loud and lengthy tirades. However, there is a certain sympathy for Martha and you are allowed brief glimpses of the warm and lovable woman she could have been.




At first Nick appears to be a devoted husband. But we learn as the story unfolds, Nick didn't marry Honey because he loved her, but because he thought she was pregnant and because of her money. Nick is also not above committing adultery.

Honey is a mousy, innoscent and naive woman at first. The majority of the film she is a drunken moran. She denies what is going on around her and tries to act like a playful child.




Elizabeth Taylor gained thirty pounds for her role and gave the performance of her life. She won the Academy Award for Best Actress for her role.

Sandy Dennis won the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress for her performance. Sandy is incredible in the unspoken word in this film, her facial expressions and most of her performances are going on in the background of the tirades of the other characters. This is a film if you watch a second time focusing on Sandy Dennis you will get a whole new perspective.

Richard Burton was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Actor. He protrays a wicked humor with psychological torment. You find yourself laughing but wondering if you should be laughing.

George Segal was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor. A relative newcomer at the time, George Segal holds his own against the powerhouse of Taylor and Burton.




The film was considered groundbreaking for having a level of profanity and sexual implication unheard of at that time. This was the first movie to successfully challenge the Production Code Office and eventually force the Motion Picture Association of America to overhaul the Production Code Seal with the eventual classification system in 1968.

Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? was the first movie to be given the MPAA tag: "No one under 18 will be admitted unless accompanied by his parent."

This movie is 131 minutes long and only contains four actors and is a fine example of how actors alone can hold a story and the audience is drawn in from the first line uttered to the final line of the movie.




There are no special effects, fancy background scenery, the entire movie is dialogue and character driven. It is acting at its best. This film shows if you are truely a fine actor (as Taylor, Burton, Dennis and Segal show) you don't need any special frills to make a character.

39 comments:

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