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"Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf" - on the Essentials tonight.


terrya
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Yes, this is an Essential. In my opinion.

 

 

Mike Nichols debut as a director.  His first film. What a debut.

 

 

I'm so glad the decision was made to film it in black and white. I think the raw emotionalism of Edward Albee's play was best served in filming it in black and white.

 

In my opinion, Elizabeth Taylor's absolute best performance.  As was Richard Burton's.  She won a Best Actress Oscar.  He should have won the Best Actor Oscar. Of all of their film collaborations together, this is their very best.

 

I have "Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf" on dvd, but I'll definitely be watching it tonight.

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In my opinion, Elizabeth Taylor's absolute best performance.  As was Richard Burton's.  She won a Best Actress Oscar.  He should have won the Best Actor Oscar. Of all of their film collaborations together, this is their very best.

 

Totally agree on all  counts.  This was as raw and intense a film you're likely to see where the actual body count was zero.  It's about as "Essential" a film as you can get.

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I wonder if there is anyone else here (besides me) who didn't like it?

 

Watching 2 hours of a husband and wife fighting and cursing each other is not my idea of "entertainment".

 

The plot was just too simple (husband and wife arguing for 2 hours), when compared to A Streetcar Named Desire, 12 Angry Men, and Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, which all had plenty of interesting arguments.

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Some people will say that Elizabeth Taylor was too young for the role of Martha (she was only in her 30s at the time), but she really brought that character to life. The black-and-white cinematography certainly helped to make her look less beautiful. I think in color too much of her natural beauty would have shone  through even with the frumpy hair, clothes and make-up. (Of course Martha is not supposed to be unattractive--just older and more haggard than Elizabeth Taylor.)

 

Nothing from her previous work gave any indication that she could pull off a performance such as this --- where eveything seems to be happening "for real." 

The part where she's eating the fried chicken from the refrigerator! I wonder whose idea was that? Brilliant!

 

Edward Albee wrote brilliant dialogue that sounded like real speech and conversation and at the same time had a lyrical quality.

And he had so much insight into the "games" people play in their personal relationships.

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In my opinion, Elizabeth Taylor's absolute best performance.  As was Richard Burton's.  She won a Best Actress Oscar.  He should have won the Best Actor Oscar. Of all of their film collaborations together, this is their very best.

 

Totally agree on all  counts.  This was as raw and intense a film you're likely to see where the actual body count was zero.  It's about as "Essential" a film as you can get.

that may well be, but their pairing in Taming of the Shrew is alot more fun to watch :)

 

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In my opinion, Elizabeth Taylor's absolute best performance. 

 

Agree. Her performance is the definition of tour-de-force. The psychological destructiveness between George and Martha is like some fascinating car accident. You know you should turn away from it but its sheer spectacle won't release you to do so.

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The movie is both painfully real and highly theatrical at the same time.  Great performances and a very wise choice to shoot in in black and white.

 

You described the genius of Edward Albee's writing perfectly: it is real and theatrical at the same time.

 

Even though Ernest Lehman is given screenwriting credit for the movie, the dialogue is over 99% Albee's from the original play.

Lehman's primary contribution was trimming Albee's dialogue to fit the running time of the movie.

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This was as raw and intense a film you're likely to see where the actual body count was zero.

 

This is a great statement, Andy.

 

In the beginning of the film it kind of plays like a dark comedy. I laugh out loud every time. It's a battle of wits (razor-sharp wits, and both with a sense of humor like a dagger) that just builds to grotesque proportions. In the course of the film they both appear to do serious emotional damage to the other, and do it so unflinchingly it verges on sociopathy. What's amazing is that they both seem to love each other in spite of (or maybe because of) this. The whole film may be nothing but an argument, but it's a dark, twisted, relentless, sad, touching, interesting and often hilarious argument.

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In the beginning of the film it kind of plays like a dark comedy. I laugh out loud every time. It's a battle of wits (razor-sharp wits, and both with a sense of humor like a dagger) that just builds to grotesque proportions. In the course of the film they both appear to do serious emotional damage to the other, and do it so unflinchingly it verges on sociopathy. What's amazing is that they both seem to love each other in spite of (or maybe because of) this. The whole film may be nothing but an argument, but it's a dark, twisted, relentless, sad, touching, interesting and often hilarious argument.

 

Excellent point, Kay.

Both Martha and George state to other characters that they love the other. Martha even says to George Segal's character (whose name is never mentioned in the dialogue of the play or movie although in the credits he is called Nick) that George was the only man she has ever loved in the "George and Martha, sad, sad, sad" speech.  

But beyond just the words (and in spite of many of them), there's a feeling of love between the two characters in this co-dependent relationship. 

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I agree this movie was definitely better served being shot in B & W.   I like it well enough, but I can't think of any family members offhand who like it or would like if they saw it.  Too much realism methinks + some of my kinfolk don't dig cuss words. 

 

     The first time I saw the movie I felt it started getting tiresome after while and by the end I had lost half my interest.  2nd time I saw it I liked it better; maybe I was in a different sort of mood.  Who remembers . . .

 

    Definitely not a good 'Couples Movie', tho!

  

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I try never to miss this movie.  After the carnage of the night, the ending is so tender.  Somehow I get a sense they'll be closer after the death of their "child," as devastated as Martha was by George's ending the game.  

 

I don't remember who won, but Richard Burton richly deserved the Oscar that year.

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I wonder if there is anyone else here (besides me) who didn't like it?

 

Watching 2 hours of a husband and wife fighting and cursing each other is not my idea of "entertainment".

 

The plot was just too simple (husband and wife arguing for 2 hours), when compared to A Streetcar Named Desire, 12 Angry Men, and Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, which all had plenty of interesting arguments.

I hated it

and do like to watch people fight

even your own friends

there is nothing worse than being out with a couple who should have parted ways

misery loves company

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I hated it

and do like to watch people fight

even your own friends

there is nothing worse than being out with a couple who should have parted ways

misery loves company

 

So does this mean you're not a fan of The War of The Roses? ;)

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This overplayed title did not crack the top ten of the most-searched titles on the TCM database yesterday. A Shirley Temple movie about a horse did, however.

Well, it's No. 1 in the most recent list you posted. Maybe the lag.was.people not seeing it in real time, but recording it, and searching it after they saw it.

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Well, it's No. 1 in the most recent list you posted. Maybe the lag.was.people not seeing it in real time, but recording it, and searching it after they saw it.

Yes. Though don't you wonder why there wasn't a lag with THE STORY OF SEABISCUIT, instead of VIRGINIA WOOLF? The equestrian film was immediately more popular in terms of database searches. 

 

Or it could have been that after people read my comment yesterday, they searched the title...any number of factors for its delayed searches.

 

I have been tempted to purposely click on the same title/link fifty times in one day to see if that puts it onto the list. If it hit number five, we would know that half the titles are searched less than fifty times. But I am refraining from doing that, because I do not want to rig the numbers-- the data should be as authentic as possible.

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I worked with Edward Albee several times, and he talked about the film. Although he had concerns -- he said he was originally told that they would indeed get Bette Davis and James Mason -- he was quite happy with the final product, although there was one thing that he hated. If I remember correctly, it had something to do with music at the very end of the film.

 

Btw, Paul Scofield won the Best Actor Oscar that year, for A Man for all Seasons. Apart from Burton, I don't think any of the other actors that year were major contenders -- Arkin, Caine, McQueen.

 

I have to confess, I hardly ever pay attention to the film intros, whether RO's or anyone else's. I generally record the films and fast forward past them. But if TCM did get Edward Albee to introduce Virginia Woolf (and I don't think  that would be too difficult), that would be interesting!

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I worked with Edward Albee several times, and he talked about the film. Although he had concerns -- he said he was originally told that they would indeed get Bette Davis and James Mason -- he was quite happy with the final product, although there was one thing that he hated. If I remember correctly, it had something to do with music at the very end of the film.

 

Btw, Paul Scofield won the Best Actor Oscar that year, for A Man for all Seasons. Apart from Burton, I don't think any of the other actors that year were major contenders -- Arkin, Caine, McQueen.

 

I have to confess, I hardly ever pay attention to the film intros, whether RO's or anyone else's. I generally record the films and fast forward past them. But if TCM did get Edward Albee to introduce Virginia Woolf (and I don't think  that would be too difficult), that would be interesting!

When I was attending the Actors Studio in West Hollywood in 2003/2004, I watched Salome Jens perform this play one evening. I can't remember who did the male lead. Martin Landau, one of our teachers, directed.  I think I prefer the play to the film, because it all seems more immediate and damning on stage.

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When I was attending the Actors Studio in West Hollywood in 2003/2004, I watched Salome Jens perform this play one evening. I can't remember who did the male lead. Martin Landau, one of our teachers, directed.  I think I prefer the play to the film, because it all seems more immediate and damning on stage.

I've only seen the play onstage once -- with Diana Rigg and David Suchet. It was a very good production, and I love the film, but I think the time I was most moved by the work was when I read the play, before ever having seen it. It was a very hot night, I was a teenager, and I remember reading it whilst leaning out my fire-escape window, since we didn't have air conditioning. I remember the power of the words. I would urge anyone interested in the work to read it.

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Yes. Though don't you wonder why there wasn't a lag with THE STORY OF SEABISCUIT, instead of VIRGINIA WOOLF? The equestrian film was immediately more popular in terms of database searches. 

 

Or it could have been that after people read my comment yesterday, they searched the title...any number of factors for its delayed searches.

 

I have been tempted to purposely click on the same title/link fifty times in one day to see if that puts it onto the list. If it hit number five, we would know that half the titles are searched less than fifty times. But I am refraining from doing that, because I do not want to rig the numbers-- the data should be as authentic as possible.

Well, you probably got.it right when you said it.was.overplayed. Many regular TCM viewers.are.more fsmiliar with WTMWVW than the racehorse movie, especially as tne fairly recent film on this subject.might've sparked.cjriosity.

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I know I will probably be in the minority, but I didn't really care for the film. It was a bit too raw for my tastes.

 

While I'm glad I saw this movie because it has a lot to offer,  it isn't the type of movie I like to see more than once.   I feel like I need to take a shower after seeing it! 

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I always wondered if Bette Davis had been cast as Martha, would they have her quoting her "What a dump!" line from her movie, BEYOND THE FOREST, as well as trying to figure out which movie the line comes from, and saying that its a Bette Davis movie.  Hmmm, guess that early dialogue, which I think was in the play, might have had to have been changed or eliminated.

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