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Pineknoll

Virginia Woolfe cast

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I wonder what "Who's afraid of Virginia Woolfe" would have been like if the roles had been played by Susan Hayward and Henry Fonda? I often thought that Elizabeth Taylor was doing a Susan Hayward impersonation in the film.(No offense intended - I love Liz)

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Edward Albee has said he wanted James Mason and Bette Davis (which Jack Warner had promised him). But he was satisfied with the result. I wish Uta Hagen, who played the role on Broadway, could have been cast, but she wasn't a big screen name, possibly because she had been blacklisted.

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I never saw the Broadway production, but I cannot imagine anyone doing a better job the Elizabeth Taylor. I thought she was great. And so was Richard Burton.

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It's too bad they wont remake the film. Liz was good but she was too young for the part (and the attempt to age her wasnt too convinicing). Davis was the right age, but she wasnt box office. They watered down the language too.......

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Taylor was very good, but, although I didn't see the original Broadway production, I think Uta Hagen would have been amazing in the film.

 

I knew Kim Hunter, who of course was the original Stella in *Streetcar.* I once asked her who was the best Blanche she ever saw, thinking she would say either Jessica Tandy, who created the role on B'way, or Vivian Leigh, who played it in film. Kim replied quickly: "Uta." Ms. Hagen had replaced Tandy on B'way during vacations and when Tandy left; and had also played the original tour.

 

I worked with Edward Albee and know him a little. He has said, as I recall, that he was really happy with the way the film turned out, apart from some music choice at the end -- I'm not sure I remember what he said exactly, though I can find out.

 

I recently saw a production of Strindberg's *Dance of Death*. If anyone is interested in learning where Edward must have got a bit of his inspiration for Martha and George, read that play.

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It's too bad they wont remake the film. Liz was good but she was too young for the part (and the attempt to age her wasnt too convinicing). Davis was the right age, but she wasnt box office. They watered down the language too.......

 

Hibi, the language in the film WHO'S AFRAID OF VIRGINIA WOOLF? wasn't watered down. Some lines from the play were cut in the movie adaptation but this was done for length not for content.

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I read somewhere that a few words here and there were softened in the film....the child's age was definitely changed for the film....

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I read somewhere that a few words here and there were softened in the film....the child's age was definitely changed for the film....

 

Yes, the age of the "son" was 21 in the play and 16 in the movie.

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Columbia released a 4-LP set of the complete play in 1963, with the original cast, so Uta Hagen's (recorded) performance is out there. Judging by photographs, I'd say that both Uta Hagen and Arthur Hill came across as fading but youngish, so it was never a problem for me that Elizabeth was "too young" for the role. Uta Hagen was undoubtedly a powerhouse and set the bar very high for the role, but I think maybe Elizabeth was more attuned to the humor, an important facet of the character. Let's face it, "Liz and Dick" were hired for how closely their private lives and personas mirrored those of the play and I think "The Battling Burtons" had an advantage in the fact that there was real love at the core of their relationship. Without that, it would be so easy for us to not care about George and Martha once it was all over, or to remember them all these years later.

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*I wonder what "Who's afraid of Virginia Woolfe" would have been like if the roles had been played by Susan Hayward and Henry Fonda?*

 

Well Bette Davis was desperate to do the film, if I remember correctly. And I recall reading that Cary Grant was offered the husband's role.

 

Hayward and Davis, who had feuded while filming WHERE LOVE HAS GONE is 1964, had both been considered for another role, where age was an issue (Davis would play it). This was in the early stages of the writing of "Best Performance", the script that would be filmed as ALL ABOUT EVE. Joe Mankiewicz wrote a memo to Darryl Zanuck, stating that the script had a "superb role for Susan Hayward". Later, he realized that it had to be someone older than Hayward, who was then in her early 30s. So Colbert, and then Davis, got hired to play Margo Channing.

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I didn't realize that Bette Davis had been considered for the role of Martha. As much as I love her (and I love her a lot) I think she may have actually been (looked) too old to play the role. I liked the chemistry between Taylor and Burton--they looked and acted like an "old married couple" with a lot of history (both good and bad) between them.

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It's interesting to think about Bette Davis playing Martha and doing the part of the script where Martha has the "What a dump" bit and tries to figure out what Bette Davis movie that line is from.

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They probably would've changed the script to a "goddamned Joan Crawford epic" for that part. Bette playing that scene would've been priceless.... But it was not to be. I agree she was a little to old (like Liz was too young) to play the part.....

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