- Acting of Lead Performers
- Acting of Supporting Cast
- Music Score
- Title Sequence
- Historical Importance
- Would You Recommend?
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Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?
- Michael Whitty
Earnest Lehman's adaptation of Edward Albee's "Who's afraid of Virginia Woolf" is a shocker of face-to-face reactions as a college professor and his wife invite over a younger couple in an after hours, all night situation. Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton excel in their roles and Liz ended up winning Best Actress. This was Mike Nichols' first film before "The Graduate" in directing Liz and Burton and he succeeded in this adult storyline though really only working with four actors. George Seagull and Sandy Dennis get to come over and watch Liz and Burton dominate through the night. The black-and-white cinematography won an Oscar as the movies started growing up with this movie.
response to alice's review
- kevin sellers
Re: the previous reviewer, Alice, who felt that she does not view this film as entertainment and therefore will not watch it, may I just say that I too do not watch a searing drama like "Va. Woolf" to be entertained, but rather to be enlightened about the human capacity for both cruelty and compassion. Yeah, you read that right. For what is George's shattering of his and his wife's destructive illusion at the film's end if not an act of mercy? And per Alice's statement that she has learned to grow out of treating people the way George and Martha do, may I suggest that that is exactly why George "killed" their pretend child, so that they would not play such hurtful/hateful games with others and themselves. Anyway, I guess this is a plea for Alice to someday watch the entire film in the hope that she will understand that Edward Albee is not just titillating us with a married couple behaving maliciously.
I've really tried...
I have tried to sit through this film many, many times. Have not done it yet. Even knowing about the academy awards and wonderful artistic accolades, I just cannot sit through such ugly language and watch people treat each other in such detestable ways. Oh yes, I, as well as others, have come close or even have been guilty of worse behavior toward someone else. That does not mean I need to watch it on the screen and call that entertainment. What I have done is grow out of that behavior, learning a better way of dealing with these issues. I am sorry this film continues to be enjoyed as entertainment, let alone be called a classic. That is my opinion.
va woolf/streetcar comparison
- kevin sellers
Re: the previous reviewer, Don Riley's, provocative, if cryptic, claim that this film "steals much" from "Streeetcar," without telling what, in his opinion, is purloined, I have seen both movies (and plays) many times and, beyond the fact that both Blanche and Martha live a life burdened by illusions and a need for promiscuity, traits that are sufficiently universal to apply to hundreds of characters in hundreds of movies and plays, I see no direct points of comparison between these two great works, and definitely nothing "lifted." Certainly, the chief male characters in both works, George and Stanley, could not be more different. George shatters Martha's illusions out of love for her and a realization that they can't go on together with a pretend child, while Stanley destroys Blanche's fantasy world out of cruelty, because he finds her snobby superiority annoying. Also, the endings, while certainly sharing a tone of bleakness, are different in that you have a sliver of hope for George and Martha, since they are at least facing their doleful future together, while Blanche is cast away to an asylum. Therefore, I respectfully disagree with Mr. Riley that Nichols stole from Kazan, or that Albee borrowed heavily from Tennessee. I do, however, thank Mr. Riley for getting me to think anew about two American classics. Spurring mental energy is, alas, all too rare on this particular website. I look forward to responses, either from Mr. Riley or any interested party.
Brilliant Recreation For The Screen
- DON RILEY
Oh, how "Horrible, Boring and Tasteless" this could have been ? Mike Nichols made the impossible - possible. First I'll start with the "bad" I truly believe this play "steals" much from "Streetcar Named Desire". That one you'll have to figure out for yourselves. That said...........this film is brilliant. The Actor's as a whole create a complete package of perfection. If I had to choose the catalyst I would have to say Elizabeth Taylor is the underrated finest, but she did need the compliments of Sandy Dennis to make it work. I believe somewhere in the future when Film people forget about all of the Liz Taylor Hollywood Glitz and persona they will finally give her - the due for this brilliant creation of the character of Martha. She actually takes her limitations and makes strengths of them even the limited George Segal is fine and consistent in this role as a Semi-Genius and Ex Amateur Boxing Champion, academic.
va. woolf addendum
- kevin sellers
I wish to amend my previous review. This film IS a visual experience. Haskell Wexler has seen to that. It's just not very cinematic. Let's upgrade it to a B plus. P.S. Producer Ernest Lehman really should not have taken a writing credit on this picture. What did he add, ten lines? Twenty? It would have been a classy move to give the screenplay credit to Edward Albee. But we're talking Hollywood here, where "classy" is as alien a concept as modesty.
- kevin sellers
I realize it's about as visual as a hall closet, (basically, it's a filmed play) but on the up side you just don't find writing this good in ninety nine per cent of even the most cinematic of films. And while I know that good writing is considered to be irrelevant by the film geek set, as long as you have actors you might as well give them something interesting to say, which Edward Albee most emphatically does. Therefore, let's give it a B.
A true classic which mproves with every viewing.
- Dennis Locantore
No better performances exist from Elizabeth Taylor who won Best Actress and Richard Burton who was robbed of a deserved BEST ACTOR award over the dry and staid academic Paul Scofield in A MAN FOR ALL SEASONS, which also robbed this film of its' due BEST PICTURE OSCAR. Haskell Wexler's cinematography, Mike Nichols' grand premier directorial effort, a brilliant script from Edward Albee's grand stage play by Ernest Lehmann, Sandy Dennis (who won supporting Actress) and George Sega (who LOST Best Supporting Actor)l are marvelous ....AND ANOTHER MASTERPIECE OF A music score from Alex North which also lost its' nomination. North and Burton were BOTH nominated a number of times without winning the award and I find it a criminal negligence at this late date that in Burton's case, this hasn't been corrected. North did get a posthumous award from the academy for life achievement but Burton has not.
We're All Afraid of Virginia Woolf
Mike Nichols was the Vladimir Nabokov of film, both of whom held up a mirror to America and said "look at yourselves." The cynical Russian psyche which permeates both men's work is the fllp-side to American self-delusion and Nichols great trilogy of introspection is on display tonight. See if you can get through all three films without falling into despair.
Mr. Boston, you are dead wrong.
Please see the Wikipedia article on this film. It was a tremendous hit and received a record number of Academy Award nominations. Where exactly did you get your information to claim that "the vast majority of Americans hated this film?"
- Michael Brown
I don't believe there is a better exploration of the inter-personal relationships in marriage than in this film. You probably have to have been married a while to understand what is going on here. George and Martha are in a mutual co-dependent relationship. They have learned each others' strengths and weaknesses, and use and exploit them on each other viciously. Their lives are all settled in, and they can only look back at what could have been. This contrasts to the young couple, who are just beginning their lives together. George and Martha are so savvy about relationships that in their game of "get the guests," they draw out what will be the issues that the young couple will use on each other in the future. The acting and dialogue are fantastic, and they keep one guessing throughout the film about what is a game, and what is the truth. Very elusive. I still wonder how much of the story that George relays about his novel is auto-biographical. The truth is that people use each other to get what they want and need, even and/or especially in marriage. Exaggerated and uncomfortable to watch, but painfully real.
Not a Fan
I particularly dislike this movie, but it was worth watching once just for that reason.
Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf
Films are made all the time which are designed to be fun and uplifting. Rarer are films which are meant to be sad, and rarer still are films which end up being beautiful. What we NEVER see is a film designed to be hated, even designed to hurt the audience (besides a few torture films, which cheat). Virginia Woolf is in this latter category. So here comes the philosophical question: can a piece of art be good even if you don't enjoy it? Lines are repeated over and over and over again until you're just as annoyed and tired as the characters, and the abuse amongst them grows and grows throughout, creating a two-hour downward spiral of hatred which drags the viewer down as well. But the film is so smart and calculated, all of these effects are 100% intentional. Is it good or bad? I don't know, but you should still watch it because movies like this done this well are extremely rare. The only equivalent to it I can think of in the art world might be really abrasive, hateful punk/metal music.
Way over the top
- Jeff Boston
Back in 1966, when our country wasn't as degenerate, the vast majority of Americans hated this movie so much that Burton and Taylor never had another hit, together or separately. It really is way over the top, showering the viewer with a variety of gross personal vices.
Haters, Grow Up!
This is one of the greatest American films ever made! It's a black COMEDY so get over it, you idiots. If you don't get it, go watch re-runs of Sienfeld, or Friends. Burton and Taylor were at heir peaks and never gave better performances again, sad to say. So, they're not Ozzie and Harriet, were your parents? I doubt it! The dialogue is side-splitingly funny, if mean. All four leads deserved Oscars, but, what's an Oscar, anyway? This film was ground-breaking in it's day, and even today very little can compare almost 50 years later.
In the script, Martha references Bette Davis and quotes her famous "What a dump!" line from the film Beyond the Forest (1949). During the casting for this film, Albee thought it would be a "wonderful" idea to cast Bette Davis in the role of Martha, so that we can see Bette Davis doing a Bette Davis imitation.
HATE this film. Hate it, hate it, HATE IT.
I know, I know, it's one of the all-time classics, best performances ever by Burton and Taylor, blah, blah, blah. You're all nuts, and so are all the critics who rave about this sordid piece of unpleasantness. If there is anything uplifting or interesting about four people who spend all night ganging up on each other -- wives vs. husbands, young vs. old, three against one, etc., I can't see it. The film is nothing more than a 2 hour piece of sadomasochism, where our "heroes" do little more than spend time viciously insulting one other in the most caustic, cruel, personal ways that people can think up. You people REALLY think that listening to wives belittle their husbands, husbands insult their wives, the older demean the younger and vice versa is somehow interesting? Why? What is the point? This is supposed to be "great art"? Are you kidding me?It took me three tries to get through this piece of dreck, and it really wasn't worth it. There is absolutely NOTHING edifying about this film, unless you're talking about Haskell Wexler's cinematography.Not saying you can't make a film like this. But it sure isn't made for people like me. The only other film that made me feel this unclean was Taxi Driver, and I had to take a shower after watching that one. This movie is about as much fun as a root canal. HATE this film, from beginning to end. Hate it, hate it, HATE IT.
This ended their (and her) run
- Jeff Boston
Burton & Taylor made hit after hit until this gunk, then it was bomb after bomb. Taylor never had another hit.
Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?
Overall-4 1/2 out of 5Lead Performers-5/5Supporting Cast-5/5Director-4 1/2 out of 5Screenplay-4/5Cinematography-4/5Importance-5/5Recommendation for fans of the genre-4 1/2 out of 5
This is not my favorite film and it is a film I really dislike even though the performances are terrific. I have never been able to watch it start to finish in one sitting. I did like the ending, however. I am very sure Ms. Taylor was the opposite of the character she played which makes her performance even more remarkable. Richard Burton is once again, the tragic, darkly, mysterious character. He is brilliant in everything. I find it difficult to believe that there are people who behave this way but I know there are. I cannot imagine treating guests the way they treated this young couple. I am sure I would have left after the first insulting remarks began to fly around the room. This earns a 5/5 from me.
I'm Really Afraid of the Realism
This movie is so discomforting to watch, but that is why it is so good!! I know I've certainly been around people like this, situations like this, where the tension is so high. You know you need to get out of the way of the volcano that's about to erupt, but you're so sopped with drink, you can only join in. YOU CAN'T ESCAPE! But that's another reason this movie is so good. YOU CAN ESCAPE! It's almost voyueristic. I'm not watching a movie, but I'm watching strangers' lives. And it's quite entertaining because the strangers are quite good at their craft. And I'm quite good at being a fly on the wall.
Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?
- Dashiell Barnes
The powerful drama which ushered in a new era of filmmaking. The most famous couple at the time, Burton & Taylor, are sensational to watch, the latter winning an Best Actress Oscar. Dennis also won an Academy Award for her supporting performance. The award- winning art direction, cinematography & costumes would have been undeserved unless guided by the debut work of director Nichols. The film is worth viewing just for it's place in film history. I give it a 5/5.
whos afraid of virginia woolf?
- jason schaaf
wow its the second time ive seen this classic of american cinema, and i must say ive never witnessed such stellar acting all the way around. when george segal is the weak link [and george segal is a wonderful actor, truly] you know you are seeing something truly special. miss taylor and miss dennis truly deserved their oscars i mean this is the best performance of lizs career and for sandy dennis to even be remembered in this movie is an accomplishment of a lifetime. i know gary cooper was unforgettable in high noon, but still richard burton was truly robbed of best actor oscar.
Taylor & Burton Mentally Mean(1966)
Martha & George(Elizabeth Taylbor & Richard Burton ) respectively deliver lifetime performances of an academically married couple, who play cruel mind games on each other . They have invited a faculty couple (Sandy Dennis & George Segal)over for an informal social meeting where the games begin. This material is so powerful and destructive, I would recommend viewing by only 18 years and older. The power of thought and repressed social problems are the main thread holding this complex dynamic together. Mike Nichols Director , is in complete command and directs with total authority, as he unwraps the layers of emotions that bind the two main combatants. Extremely profound and current. Ernest Lehmman writies a fantastic and mezmerizing screenplay. Watch carefully from a distance, you don't want to get too involved with these two, you might see a reflection you may not like. 5 stars out of 5. Very powerful film. You have been notified.
IF you seen father of the bride,suddendly last summer,cat on a hot tin roof??????????????How can you not see how in everymovie Elizabeth, acting, is fenomenalFROM SWEET DAUGHTER OF SPENCERFROM KATHEREN HEPBURN NICE. WHO WANTS A LABOTOMYTO A SATHBELL, WITH A TOUNGUE AN A PERFECT ACCENTTO MAKE HERSELF GAIN 30 LB. FOR THIS MOVIEEMOTIONS LIKE THAT DO NOT EXIST.....NOT TO MENTION HOW BEUTIFULLSHE WAS SCINCE NATIONAL VELVET YOU KNOWSHE WAS GOING TO BE THE MOST BEUTIFULL WOMANIN THE WORLD,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,
Who`s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?
I think this is the best acting by Elizabeth Taylor or by Richard Burton. It is as good as it gets for true drama that can be felt right through the screen onto the viewer. Segal and Dennis were workable props that happened to fit the requirements. Make no mistake of the depth Taylor and Burton enveloped their roles into everyday perplexity of wants over needs. Most noted as being Virginia's sycophantic actions and the same eventual happenings in her own real life. Ironic? Uncanny? Get some popcorn, a large beverage and enjoy this ride unfold before you. A five star movie. Needs to be shown more often.
Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?
My favorite movie of all time. If you love "drama", this is the movie for you. Liz Taylor at her peak. Sandy Dennis so right for the part she played. Love the black and white "bleakness" of the film. I never get tired of seeing it.....
My favorite movie of all time. The acting is brilliant. Can never be done again.Why does it never play on TCM?
Who's Afraid Of Virginia Woolf? (1966)
Taylor's performance is among the greatest of all time. A brilliant film, Mike Nichols does an amazing job. Incredibly written. Brilliant on every level. The cast is tremendous.
Taylor & Burton's Best
- Bruce Reber
I have seen all of the films starring Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton, and to me Virginia Woolf is by far the best one they made together. I have it on DVD (the 2 disc special edition). It is a searing version of Edward Albee's play about a turbulent marriage and the twisted psychological games they (George and Martha) play with each other. When a young couple comes over for a visit, the painful secrets of their own marriage are revealed when they see George and Martha playing their games with each other. At the beginning of the film, Martha asks George which film the line "What A Dump!" is from. When he answers that he doesn't know, she proceeds to re-enact the scene where it is spoken from "Beyond The Forest" (Warner Bros., 1949)with Bette Davis and Joseph Cotten.Of course, that is the film "What A Dump!" is from. Also, the cast list has a couple of errors - the George Segal character is listed as Nick and Sandy Dennis is listed as Honey. I have seen Virginia Woolf several times, and no where in the film do I hear their names mentioned. Taylor won the 1966 Best Actress Oscar for her performance and deservedly so. I don't know if it's true, but I have heard that director Mike Nichols wanted to cast Henry Fonda and Bette Davis in the leads, but changed his mind (supposedly because he thought they were too old). Virginia Woolf is one of the most powerful dramatic films ever made. Four Stars!
Taylor at her best, and certainly one of the best performances on screen during the 20th century. Not bad from a girl who never had an acting lesson in her life. Burton tops too in this one and of course he lost the Oscar to Paul Scolfield. Hollywood jealousy of The Burtons back in 1967.
mistake on quote, additional quote
- Merlyn Schumacher
the quote from martha should read "I swear if you existed I'd divorce you"another noteworthy quote is from richard burton as George "There aren't many more sickening sights than you with a few drinks in you and your skirt up over your head-heads I should say"