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Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? (1966)

TV-MA  |   |  Drama, Romance  |  22 June 1966 (USA)
8.1
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Ratings: 8.1/10 from 49,677 users  
Reviews: 223 user | 67 critic

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

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Top 250 #228 | Won 5 Oscars. Another 22 wins & 18 nominations. See more awards »

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Storyline

George and Martha are a middle aged married couple, whose charged relationship is defined by vitriolic verbal battles, which underlies what seems like an emotional dependence upon each other. This verbal abuse is fueled by an excessive consumption of alcohol. George being an associate History professor in a New Carthage university where Martha's father is the President adds an extra dimension to their relationship. Late one Saturday evening after a faculty mixer, Martha invites Nick and Honey, an ambitious young Biology professor new to the university and his mousy wife, over for a nightcap. As the evening progresses, Nick and Honey, plied with more alcohol, get caught up in George and Martha's games of needing to hurt each other and everyone around them. The ultimate abuse comes in the form of talk of George and Martha's unseen sixteen year old son, whose birthday is the following day. Written by Huggo

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

Drop in for Drinks and Brace yourself. See more »

Genres:

Drama | Romance

Certificate:

TV-MA | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

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Details

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Release Date:

22 June 1966 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Edward Albee's Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?  »

Filming Locations:

 »

Box Office

Budget:

$7,500,000 (estimated)
 »

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

According to Sam O'Steen, Mike Nichols was very nervous at the World Premiere of the film at Hollywood's famous Pantages Theatre. "It was the world premiere, it was a full house, invited people and press," said O'Steen, "and Mike and I sat in the back row...we had no idea what we had and Mike was a basket case. So the picture started and he said, 'That's a light print. Jesus!' And I said, 'Come on, Mike, settle down.' But he kept moaning and groaning throughout the screening, that it was too dark and too light, and at the end of it, Mike said, 'Let's get out of here. I don't want to see anybody.' So we ran out, got in his car, and drove away. And everybody was looking for him, looking all over. But he just couldn't face them, he thought it was a disaster." See more »

Goofs

In the bedroom scene near the beginning, when Burton lies on the bed, the books behind his head are fully visible, but when Taylor lies down next to him a minute later, the books are half-obscured by the pillows. See more »

Quotes

[first lines]
Martha: [with disgust] What a dump.
See more »

Connections

Spoofed in American Dad!: Camp Refoogee (2006) See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

 
Perfect Movie-making
28 February 2005 | by (Los Angeles) – See all my reviews

An undisputed classic that chronicles every appalling moment of a drunken night in hell as middle-aged George and Martha tear each other, and their guest, to pieces.

Elizabeth Taylor proves categorically that she was a truly great actress. Her Oscar-winning performance as the psychologically tormented Martha is one of the greatest performances in the history of cinema. Taylor's imperceptible shifting from sadism to tenderness, from bullying condescension to exhausted vulnerability, is a masterclass in character building. Martha is a truly monstrous character, and yet Taylor is able to imbue her with sympathy, allowing you brief glimpses of the warm and lovable woman she could have been.

Richard Burton is equally magnificent as George; an ageing, failing college professor whose initial meekness gives way to a raging torment all of his own. His verbal sparring with Taylor, like two pit-bulls in the ring of an endless and bloody dogfight, has become legendary. Every word drips with malice and contempt, every sentence is designed to cut the deepest wound. At times, it becomes painful to watch, but like true train-wreck television, you cannot drag yourself away from the inevitably terrible conclusion.

Quite possibly, this is as close to perfect as movies can get; beautifully written dialogue, deeply complex characters, an evolving and suspenseful storyline, beautiful photography, and a wonderfully understated score by Alex North. Nominated for 13 Academy Awards in 1967, but lost out to A Man for All Seasons and Born Free to win only 5.

"Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?" "I am."


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