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Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? (1966)

Not Rated | | Drama | 22 June 1966 (USA)
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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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Won 5 Oscars. Another 17 wins & 23 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Complete credited cast:
... Martha
... George
... Nick
... Honey
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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

Certificate:

Not Rated | 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:

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Box Office

Budget:

$7,500,000 (estimated)

Gross USA:

$28,000,000, 31 January 1968

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

$40,000,000, 31 January 1968
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Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

The MPAA ultimately decided to grant the film an unprecedented exemption as "a special, important film" which was not considered to "exploit language for language's sake." The film would carry a warning that said: "No one under the age of 18 will be admitted unless accompanied by a parent or guardian." It was the first film to carry such a label, which would be commonplace just a few years later when the MPAA put its new ratings system in place. See more »

Goofs

When George goes to pour his and Martha's first drink, there is a copy of Virginia Woolf's To the Lighthouse on the bookshelf above the bottles. It is missing in subsequent scenes. See more »

Quotes

[first lines]
Martha: [with disgust] What a dump.
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Connections

References Gone with the Wind (1939) See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

Still powerful, harrowing view of the "Anti-Ozzie and Harriet"
3 July 2000 | by See all my reviews

This is still an exceptional film from the 1960s. Though some of the epithets are obviously softening much stronger words, the language is frank and brutal, Martha's bludgeoning body-blows balanced by George's icepick thrusts. Edward Lehman's respectful screenplay gently opens up Edward Albee's one-set play while keeping a certain claustrophobic atmosphere. Mike Nichols' first directing effort is stunning in its lack of artifice; rarely do you feel that the director has done much more than turn on the camera and watch four actors, all at the top of their game, tear into their roles. George Segal's work in this movie is criminally underrated, but his reactive work as studly, ultimately disappointing Nick should be mandatory study by all young actors. Sandy Dennis' fluttery turn as mousy, wifey Honey is powerful also; a lot more is going on than you might think. Richard Burton is staggering as George ("Georgie Porgie Put-upon Pie"), and his performance demonstrates the magic that he could bring to a worthy role. Elizabeth Taylor's work here still astounds. The physical transformation she undertook to become aging harpy Martha is amazing enough, but her performance seems to channel a hurricane's force and fury. By turns hilarious, maddening and then, at the end, exhausted and defeated yet again, Taylor demonstrates acting, particularly film acting, at its best. The film is by no means easy or "Hollywood" in feel-- the audience is as exhausted as the characters at the end. But this was a bracing, necessary antidote to the impossible ideal of marriage usually portrayed in the movies. A towering film.


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