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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 49,592 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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Cast

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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:

The Violet-Eyed Venus Becomes a Boozing, Tired, Greying "Virago" See more »

Genres:

Drama | Romance

Certificate:

TV-MA | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

 »
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Details

Country:

Language:

| |

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

In this film, Elizabeth Taylor does an exaggerated impression of Bette Davis saying a line from Beyond the Forest (1949): "What a dump!" In an interview with Barbara Walters, Bette Davis said that in the film, she really did not deliver the line in such an exaggerated manner. She said it in a more subtle, low-key manner, but it has passed into legend that she said it the way Elizabeth Taylor's delivered it in this film. During the Barbara Walters interview, the clip of Bette Davis delivering the line from Beyond the Forest (1949) was shown to prove that Davis was correct. However, since people expected Bette Davis to deliver the line the way Elizabeth Taylor had, she always opened her in-person, one woman show by saying the line in a campy, exaggerated manner: "WHAT ... A... DUMP!!!". It always brought down the house. "I imitated the imitators", Davis said. See more »

Goofs

In almost every scene, to go up the stairs there are four or five steps and then the staircase turns left before continuing. Late in the movie, when Sandy Dennis enters through the front door, the staircase is straight with no turns. Further, if there were separate staircases, they almost certainly would not both go up from the front of the house. See more »

Quotes

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

Connections

Spoofed in The Simpsons: The War of the Simpsons (1991) See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more (Spoiler Alert!) »

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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