8.0/10
69,242
300 user 98 critic

Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? (1966)

Not Rated | | Drama | 22 June 1966 (USA)
Trailer
2:12 | Trailer
A bitter, aging couple, with the help of alcohol, use their young houseguests to fuel anguish and emotional pain towards each other over the course of a distressing night.

Director:

Mike Nichols

Writer:

Ernest Lehman (screenplay)
Reviews
Popularity
4,046 ( 596)
Won 5 Oscars. Another 17 wins & 27 nominations. See more awards »

Videos

Photos

Edit

Cast

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

Storyline

George (Richard Burton) and Martha (Dame Elizabeth Taylor) 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 fuelled 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 (George Segal) and Honey (Sandy Dennis), 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:

Drop in for Drinks and Brace yourself. See more »

Genres:

Drama

Certificate:

Not Rated | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
Edit

Did You Know?

Trivia

According to cinematographer Haskell Wexler, Dame Elizabeth Taylor and Sandy Dennis had on-set competitions to see who could belch the loudest. Dennis would always win. See more »

Goofs

In almost every scene, to go up the stairs there are four or five steps and then the staircase turns left before continuing. Late in the movie, when Sandy Dennis enters through the front door, the staircase is straight with no turns. Further, if there were separate staircases, they almost certainly would not both go up from the front of the house. See more »

Quotes

[first lines]
Martha: [with disgust] What a dump.
See more »

Connections

References In Old Chicago (1938) See more »

Soundtracks

Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? (to the tune of Here We Go Round the Mulberry Bush)
Traditional English melody
Original lyrics ("Who's Afraid of the Big Bad Wolf?") by Frank Churchill & Ann Ronell; modified by Edward Albee
Performed by Elizabeth Taylor
See more »

User Reviews

 
That's what comes from too much alcohol and too few mutual respect
9 July 2003 | by RWiggumSee all my reviews

'Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf' tells the story of two couples that are quite different at first sight - one used to each other for years, the other one rather freshly wed in comparison. Actually it doesn't tell their story, but it displays their relationships.

The film begins on a Sunday morning at 2 o'clock, right after a party, and ends just after the sun rises. In these few hours we get to know these four people better then we might possibly want.

George and Martha are the older couple. He is a history professor, she is the daughter of the head of the university. Their relationship seems to be from hell, full of mutual disgust and humiliation. Their guests are Nick and Honey. He is the new, ambitious biology professor, she is his naive young wive. As all these four characters are more or less drunk throughout the entire film, alcohol works as a catalyst, and we quickly see the different kind of character traits they have: George is a cynic, Martha loves to torment her husband, Nick is an opportunist and Honey is very much a stupid blonde.

The two relationships deserve closer examination: We wonder why Martha and George married in the first place. They keep swearing at each other. Martha can't stop humiliating George, when they are alone as well as when Nick and Honey are there. Maybe there is still a rest of love in them, but there mutual respect has vanished completely. And then there is the strange story of their son, who is supposed to visit on his birthday. They way George and Martha talk about him make us feel that there is something peculiar about him. At the end we get to know more about him, and we can only guess how important the son is for their relationship.

Nick and Honey, on the other hand, seem to be quite the opposite. But, being used as weapons by the older couple, we see that their relationship isn't as perfect as it seems to be, either. Nick didn't marry Honey because he loved her, but because he thought she was pregnant and because of her money. And when Martha tries to seduce him to tease George, he plays the game with her, always in mind that this woman's father is the head of the university. Honey, on the other hand, is much more emotional than her husband, but she also is the most passive character, and the one most affected by the alcohol.

Mike Nichols assembled an outstanding cast for his film. Casting Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton as Martha and George is a stroke of genius - not only are they terrific actors, but it also heats the imagination of the viewer how much their real-life-marriage resembled the relationship they had in this film. Elizabeth Taylor outshines her co-stars a little. Never was she any better than in this one; although her character is the meanest in the film, she manages that we still feel compassion for her at the end. But Richard Burton, George Segal and especially Sandy Dennis deliver memorable performances, too.

'Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf' succeeds at something rather difficult: It makes us care for characters we wouldn't want to have anything to do with in real life. And although it actually consist of nothing but four people talking for two hours, it never bored us for a second.


99 of 140 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you? | Report this
Review this title | See all 300 user reviews »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more »
Edit

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 »

Edit

Box Office

Budget:

$7,500,000 (estimated)

Gross USA:

$28,000,000

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

$28,005,068
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »

Contribute to This Page



Recently Viewed