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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.

Director:

Mike Nichols

Writer:

Ernest Lehman (screenplay)
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Won 5 Oscars. Another 17 wins & 23 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Complete credited cast:
Elizabeth Taylor ... Martha
Richard Burton ... George
George Segal ... Nick
Sandy Dennis ... 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:

You are cordially invited to George and Martha's for an evening of fun and games. See more »

Genres:

Drama

Certificate:

Not Rated | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English | Latin | Spanish

Release Date:

22 June 1966 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

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

Filming Locations:

Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA See more »

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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
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

During post-production, there was an argument that resulted in Mike Nichols being thrown out of the editing room and off the lot just as the film was being finished. Ernest Lehman had already hired esteemed composer Alex North to create the music for the film. However, Nichols made it clear that he wanted to use André Previn instead and fought with Warner Bros. executives over it. Since he had gone way over schedule and over budget with the film already, the studio was at the end of its patience with Nichols, and Warner Bros. won out. "So he kept fighting and that was the last straw, that's what finally did it," said Sam O'Steen. "That was just before Warner threw him off the lot. Mike and I were working in the cutting room, we'd just finished shooting a couple weeks before, when they told him he had four more days to finish the movie...he yelled about it, but there was nothing he could do." 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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Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

 
"George and Martha,.......sad........sad........sad"
27 June 2006 | by bkoganbingSee all my reviews

Edward Albee's award winning play, Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf ran for 664 performances on Broadway and just closed down when this film version made its debut in 1966. The Broadway play was set entirely in the living room of George and Martha's home and starred Uta Hagen, Arthur Hill, Melinda Dillon, and George Grizzard. All eminently respectable players, but none of them exactly movie box office.

This film was destined to make money when the most publicized couple of the decade, Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton, chose it as a star vehicle for themselves. Of course what was not clear was how well a one stage play would adapt to film.

It adapted very well and went quite beyond one stage. The action of the film moved effortlessly to an all night diner at one point with some stops along the way. You'd hardly know the story as originally told only had one setting.

There's no real plot to it. For reasons I can't fathom this middle aged and bitter couple George and Martha have a younger couple, Nick and Honey, over to their house at two in the morning. I don't know about you, but I'm usually not my best at that time. Also they had just come from a party at Martha's father's house. Martha's dad is the president of a college and George teaches there. Nick and Honey are a newly hired professor and his wife.

The late night and the liquor bring out the worst in everybody. A whole lot of ugly truths get told.

Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf was the summit of the professional team of Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton. Playing against type, Elizabeth Taylor got her second Oscar the one she felt she earned. She always disparaged the one received for Butterfield 8 as it came on the heels of her well publicized pneumonia bout.

In fact all four members of the cast were nominated with Sandy Dennis winning Best Supporting Actress. Ironically Richard Burton didn't win, losing to Paul Scofield for A Man for All Seasons. I guess the Academy voters figured Burton would get another shot. He never brought home the big prize though.

George Segal usually gets overlooked. This film and Ship of Fools was the start of his long career, but no Oscar for him either.

Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf is quite the indictment against marriage, especially after the love has died. It's far from the whole story of marriage. There are many who stay married longer than George and Martha and happily. But it wasn't in Edward Albee's life experience to draw from.

But this should be seen to see Liz and Dick at their very best.


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