Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? (1966) Poster


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  • A middle-aged couple, George (Richard Burton) and his wife Martha (Elizabeth Taylor), whose father is President of the New Carthage university where George is an associate professor of history, invite ambitious new biology professor Nick (George Segal) and his "mousy" wife Honey (Sandy Dennis) to their house for a nightcap following a faculty mixer. The nightcap turns into an all-night drinking party in which George and Martha brutalize each other emotionally and draw the younger couple into their vitriolic games. Edit

  • Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf started life as a 1962 play by American playwright Edward Albee. The play was adapted for the screen by American screenwriter Ernest Lehman. Edit

  • "What a dump!" appears in Beyond the Forest (1949), a Warner Brothers film noir. It is spoken by Bette Davis and made famous by being quoted in Albee's play. The line is #62 on the American Film Institute's list of the top 100 movie quotations in American cinema. Edit

  • As day breaks, George orders everyone to sit down for one last game. To Martha's chagrin, George brings the subject back to their son. In the middle of Martha lauding the birth and perfection of their child, George informs her that, while she and Nick were off somewhere together, he received a telegram with bad news: that Sonny Jim was killed that afternoon on a country road when he swerved to avoid hitting a porcupine and crashed into a tree. Martha immediately breaks down in tears, as expected, but she admonishes George for "killing" their son and tells him that he can't do that. "You broke our rules," George explains, "You mentioned him to somebody else" (Honey). Suddenly, Nick figures it all out. There is no son. George and Martha "invented" the boy as one of their games because they couldn't have any real children, and George was finally putting a stop to it. In the final scene, George sends Nick and Honey home and offers a comforting hand to Martha for destroying their game and bringing reality back into their lives. "Who's afraid of Virginia Woolf?", George asks rhetorically, and Martha replies,"I am, George, I am." Edit

  • Yes. London-born Virginia Woolf (1882-1941) was a prolific English writer. Often referred to as a "modernist", Woolf was a complex intellectual, known for her attempts to reveal the truth of human experience, emotion, and thought. Edit

  • The title comes from rewriting the words to the children's song, "Who's afraid of the big bad wolf?" It first comes up as a joke at Martha's father's party and is referenced and/or sung at several places in the movie. Considering Woolf's predilection for realism in her novels and essays, the title Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf may be more understandable if reworded to "Who's Afraid of Reality?" Edit



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