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1960s, Drama - Family

Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf (1966)

WhosAfrain

Duration 2h 34m Rating (UK) X
Source of story A play of the same name by Edward Albee
Director Mike Nichols
Writers/Script Ernest Lehman – although it is claimed that the Burtons discarded most of his words and replaced them with Edward Albee’s.
Starring Elizabeth Taylor, Richard Burton, George Segal, Sandy Dennis

Elevator Pitch: An associate history professor and his wife, Martha, daughter of the university president, return home after a party and continue drinking and attacking each other verbally. Martha has invited a young couple over, much to the annoyance of George, but nevertheless they arrive, and over the ensuing hours are caught up in the older couple’s destructive relationship. Regretable actions take place and unfortunate secrets are revealed; everyone is damaged.

Content:  Shadows on a blind indicate that sex is taking place. Alcohol is almost continuously consumed. Martha and George verbally attack each other almost continuously, and do so physically at one point. The presentation moves from the professor’s house, to the garden and to a roadhouse where they drink and dance. They drive about a bit, drunk anyway.  Considered to be very risque in its day since there is talk of sex, but a bit tame by today’s standards.

A View: I have read the play and thought that the author presented the dialogue in a way which built up from a sort of entertaining start, to a grimmer and grimmer conclusion, but the film is very aggressive from the start, making it quite difficult to watch. It was nominated in every major category at the 1967 Oscars and the two actresses won. Is it a watch? Considering the cast and the content, essential for film buffs, but maybe not for those wanting quiet Sunday afternoon entertainment.

Additional Info: Burton and Taylor had a contract that did not require them to appear on set until 10 am. By the time they were made up it was lunch time and they usually went off with friends, not returning until late afternoon. The film ran 30 days over budget, and the studio wanted to sack the director, but were restrained becaue they knew the actors would walk.

About Victor R Gibson

Author of this site three technical books and two novels

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