AFI Catalog of Feature Films
Summary View of Movie
Name Occurs Before Title Offscreen Credit Print Viewed By AFI
Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?
Director: Mike Nichols (Dir)
Release Date:   Jul 1966
Duration (in mins):  129-131
Print this page
Display Movie Detail


Cast: Elizabeth Taylor  (Martha)
  Richard Burton  (George)
  George Segal  (Nick)
 

Summary: At 2 a.m. on the campus of a New England college, a middle-aged professor of history and his wife return home from a party. Their life together, after 20 years of marriage, is dominated by violent arguments tempered by occasional moments of tenderness. George, the husband, is a victim of lost idealism--a fact that his wife, Martha, eagerly points out by constantly comparing him to her father, the president of the college. Martha conceals her own vulnerability and frustration behind a show of loud vulgarity. She has created an imaginary son, and George has indulged her in the pretense, partially for his own sake as well. Earlier in the evening, Martha invited a faculty couple, Nick and Honey, to drop by for a drink; as soon as they arrive, Martha begins making flagrant advances toward the younger man. Honey, embarrassed by Martha's behavior and unaccustomed to so much liquor, becomes ill. Intoxicated, Nick confides to George that he married Honey because she falsely told him that she was pregnant. The long night of drinking and quarreling wears on, and Martha eventually lures the opportunistic and drunken Nick to her bedroom upstairs, while George watches their shadows from the yard below. When he learns that Martha has told Honey about their son, George brutally destroys his wife's fantasy by announcing that the son is dead. He then reduces her to hysteria by conducting a mock funeral service in Latin. With the coming of dawn, the guests depart. Physically and emotionally exhausted, George and Martha share a moment of silence. 

Distribution Company: Warner Bros. Pictures, Inc.
Production Company: Chenault Productions, Inc.
Warner Bros. Pictures, Inc.
Director: Mike Nichols (Dir)
  Bud Grace (Asst dir)
  David Hall (Asst dir)
  Michael Daves (Asst dir)
Producer: Ernest Lehman (Prod)
Writer: Ernest Lehman (Scr)

Subject Major: Husbands
  Infidelity
  Marriage
  Wives
 
Subject Minor: Aging
  Ambition
  Betrayal
  Childlessness
  Diners (Restaurants)
  Drunkenness
  New England
  Opportunists
  Professors
  Seduction

Display Movie Detail
The American Film Institute is grateful to Sir Paul Getty KBE and the Sir Paul Getty KBE Estate for their dedication to the art of the moving image and their support for the AFI Catalog of Feature Films and without whose support AFI would not have been able to achieve this historical landmark in this epic scholarly endeavor.
 
Advanced Search
Support our efforts to preserve hisotory of film
Help AFI Preserve Film History

© 2017 American Film Institute.
All rights reserved.
Terms of use.