AFI Catalog of Feature Films
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Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?
Alternate Title: Edward Albee's Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?
Director: Mike Nichols (Dir)
Release Date:   Jul 1966
Premiere Information:   World premiere in Los Angeles: 21 Jun 1966
Duration (in mins):   129-131
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Cast:   Elizabeth Taylor (Martha)  
    Richard Burton (George)  
    George Segal (Nick)  
    Sandy Dennis (Honey)  

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. 

Production Company: Chenault Productions, Inc.  
  Warner Bros. Pictures, Inc.  
Production Text: Ernest Lehman Production
Ernest Lehman's Production
Distribution Company: 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)
Photography: Haskell Wexler (Dir of photog)
  Harry Stradling (Dir of photog)
Art Direction: Richard Sylbert (Prod des)
Film Editor: Sam O'Steen (Film ed)
Set Decoration: George James Hopkins (Set dec)
Costumes: Irene Sharaff (Cost des)
Music: Alex North (Mus comp & cond)
Sound: M. A. Merrick (Sd)
Make Up: Jean Burt Reilly (Supv hairstylist)
  Sydney Guilaroff (Hair styles for Miss Taylor created by)
  Gordon Bau (Miss Taylor's makeup)
  Ronnie Berkeley (Mr. Burton's makeup)
Production Misc: Hal Polaire (Asst to the prod)
  Doane Harrison (Prod adv)
  Meta Rebner (Scr supv)
Country: United States
Language: English

Music:
Songs:
Source Text: Based on the play Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? by Edward Albee, produced on the stage by Richard Barr and Clinton Wilder (New York, 13 Oct 1962).
Authors: Edward Albee
  Richard Barr
  Clinton Wilder

Copyright Claimant Copyright Date Copyright Number
Warner Bros. Pictures, Inc. 2/7/1966 dd/mm/yyyy LP33596

PCA NO: 21074
Physical Properties: Sd:
  b&w:

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

Note: After the opening individual credit cards for Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton, the title card reads: "Ernest Lehman's Production of" followed by a separate title card stating: "Edward Albee's" followed by the title card. Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? marked the feature film directing debut of Mike Nichols, the film acting debut for Sandy Dennis and the first film produced by writer Ernest Lehman. The film was shot on location in Northampton, Massachusetts. Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? was ranked 67th on AFI's 2007 100 Years...100 Movies--10th Anniversary Edition list of the greatest American films. 

Bibliographic Sources:   Date   Page
Daily Variety   22 Jun 1966.   
Filmfacts   15 Aug 1966   pp. 149-52.
Hollywood Reporter   22 Jun 1966   p. 3.
Los Angeles Herald Examiner   22 Jun 1966   Section C, p. 6.
Los Angeles Times   22 Jun 1966   Secuib V, p. 1, 15.
Life   10 Jun 1966   pp. 87-91.
New York Times   7 Jul 1966   p. 28.
New Yorker   2 Jul 1966   pp. 64-65.
Newsweek   4 Jul 1966   p. 84.
Sight and Sound   Autumn, 1966   pp. 198-99.
Time   1 Jul 1966.   
Variety   22 Jun 1966   p. 6.

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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.
 
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