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Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf (1997)

Elizabeth Taylor , Richard Burton , Mike Nichols  |  R |  DVD
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (298 customer reviews)

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Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf + Cat on a Hot Tin Roof (Deluxe Edition) + Streetcar Named Desire
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Product Details

  • Actors: Elizabeth Taylor, Richard Burton, George Segal, Sandy Dennis
  • Directors: Mike Nichols
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Color, Full Screen, NTSC, Subtitled, Widescreen
  • Language: English (Mono)
  • Subtitles: French, English, Spanish
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: Unknown
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: R (Restricted)
  • Studio: Warner Home Video
  • DVD Release Date: November 9, 2010
  • Run Time: 131 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (298 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B0045HCJ94
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #22,283 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf" on IMDb

Special Features

None.

Editorial Reviews

Elizabeth Taylor, Richard Burton, George Segal, Sandy Dennis. Dark secrets and dirty laundry are aired one alcohol-soaked night in this riveting look at a complex marriage. 1966/b&w/131 min/NR/widescreen.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
104 of 112 people found the following review helpful
Format:DVD
Edward Albee's vituperative play about marital warfare, an acknowledged classic even during its first run, came to the screen with searing fervor by an unlikely combination of talents at that time - stage director Mike Nichols helming his first film, screenwriter Ernest Lehman coming off the big box office treacle of "The Sound of Music", and two mega-stars who were more famous as notorious tabloid-saturated lovers than as character actors. The highly successful 1966 adaptation of the Broadway hit was considered quite daring because of its frank portrayal of a sadomasochistic marriage and the frequent use of profanity throughout. The groundbreaking film also signaled the end of the Hayes Code, which held a censorship stranglehold over Hollywood productions since 1934. Now in a new 2006 two-disc DVD set, the movie seems marginally tamer now, but the lacerating wit of Albee's fearless dialogue and the powerful performances still make this a great picture albeit not a joyous one.

The simple-sounding story focuses on the aptly named George and Martha, a middle-aged associate history professor and his older, shrewish wife. Staggering home after an alcohol-fueled faculty party, they trade their usual barbs and then are joined by Nick, a young assistant biology professor, and his wife Honey, whom a drunken Martha had invited over for a late-night nightcap. Despite the late hour, Nick readily accepts the invitation since Martha's father is the university president. What ensues is a series of vitriolic cat-and-mouse scenes of tension and black comedy among the four principals. In fact, there is no one else in the movie other than a roadside café owner and a waitress in the background.
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64 of 69 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Virginia Woolf? No Way, I'm Afraid of Martha September 25, 2006
Format:DVD
An absolutely flawless film adaptation of an absolute brilliant play by Edward Albee, "Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?" was a triumph for first time feature director Mike Nichols. "Woolf" has long been one of my favorite films, I'd say it's in the top three of all time along with "The Lion In Winter" and "All About Eve". So, needless to say, I am thrilled that it's finally receiving an updated Special Edition. So many unworthy, mediocre films are getting deluxe makeovers that it is gratifying when something great gets included!

Because "Woolf" is based on a play, it relies heavily on performance and writing. The sets have been expanded a bit, but primarily what you see is concentrated to a couple of hours in a house. This can be jarring in the day of quick cuts and rapid scene change. This film is a lot more claustrophobic than what you might be accustomed to--but this closeness is used to great affect throwing these characters into confrontation.

This film has one of the strongest, most powerful screenplays ever. Primarily, the story is about George and Martha--a dysfunctional married couple in a university town. They spend their days fighting and retreating, sparring constantly, playing games of one-ups-manship. It is an absolutely chilling, grotesque portrait of codependency. One fateful evening a younger couple join them for some "entertainment", little suspecting that they will be drawn into an intense night where they are alternately challenged and used as pawns in George and Martha's struggle. This is not for the squeamish viewer. Even though the film is 30 years old, you will be shocked and surprised about how far George and/or Martha is willing to go for victory. It is an absolute verbal bloodbath--fast, cruel, uncompromising, adult.
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55 of 60 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Spellbinding Shrewery. September 23, 2002
Format:VHS Tape
I consider this one of the most intelligently written and acted movies ever filmed. The psychological devestation that George (Burton) and Martha (Taylor)inflict upon each other casts a spell which, though it at times makes the viewer uncomfortable in its realism, is impossible to turn away from. George Segal and Sandy Dennis are the unfortunate co-passengers on this mad ride to "truth". Though they are not stupid, they are naieve and inexperienced to the point of seeming arrested development, and George and Martha go in for the kill. This is the film where Elizabeth Taylor shattered her glamour image, a pretty brave thing to do at that time, and it worked. Though her beauty was always obvious, I was never a big fan of many of her film roles, until I saw this film. It is not only her best performance, but I consider it in the ranks of the top female performances ever filmed, and Richard Burton is equally superb. That they were able to play so well off of each other in spite of, or maybe because of, their personal off-screen relationship, is amazing. Movies that do not insult the intelligence are rare these days,... I guess most of todays paying movie audience wants glorified ear-splitting music videos, with the plot secondary, if considered at all. This film is a perfect example of the mostly forgotten noble intention of the medium, which was ,yes, to entertain, but aspired to craft an experience that would also move you, make you think, and, stand in awe struck appreciation of REAL talent.
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44 of 48 people found the following review helpful
Format:DVD
Edward Albee's "Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?" is one of the most important plays in the history of American Drama, representing a sort of merging of the psychological drama represented by Tennessee Williams and Arthur Miller with the existential plays of Samuel Becket and Eugene Ionesco. After a faculty party George (Richard Burton) and Martha (Elizabeth Taylor) have invited a young professor, Nick (George Segal) and his wife Honey (Sandy Dennis), back for a few drinks. What happens is ironically described as fun and games, which end up airing everyone's dirty laundry in a compelling death spiral of brutal confrontations.
All four players were nominated for Oscars, with both of the ladies winning in the finest ensemble performance since "Long Day's Journey Into Night." Burton lost to Paul Schofield in "A Man for All Seasons" and Segal to Walter Matthau in "The Fortune Cookie." Haskell Wexler also earned a richly deserved Oscar for Best Black-and-White Cinematography. I think this is clearly Elizabeth Taylor's best film performance (Burton's too). I remember someone asking Katharine Hepburn if she thought any other actress had ever shown a range comparable to herself and she mentioned Taylor. It makes sense. They have both done plays by William Shakespeare, Tennessee Williams, and Albee. Not even Meryl Streep can say that.
The film does have one major problem, which Albee himself has repeatedly pointed out, namely, it was a mistake director Mike Nichols to let the two couples leave the house and go to a roadhouse in the middle of Act II. The play is a one set play, of course, and Albee consider the claustrophobia it produced part of its main effect.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Great dialog
Great dialog. And in the same way a parent might make their child smoke a whole pack of cigarettes after catching them smoking, they could make them watch this movie 3x in a row... Read more
Published 3 days ago by Johnny Case
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Great drama with 2 of the best
Published 4 days ago by Jon Vanirson
5.0 out of 5 stars Taylor w/Claws Out
Ended up watching this film yet another time. Taylor & Burton chew each other to shreds...to bone marrow. Read more
Published 4 days ago by Kandy Langford
5.0 out of 5 stars A beautiful film about ugly people
Burton, of course, is great, but Liz is simply spectacular. Her best performance, ever.
Published 5 days ago by William Erickson
5.0 out of 5 stars A Can't Miss!
Never seen this classic? Now's the time. It doesn't follow the play exactly. A short scene is added at the beginning of act three and the setting of part of act 2 is different. Read more
Published 9 days ago by curl girl
5.0 out of 5 stars Not the most relaxing film, but great.
I made the mistake of telling my GF that Liz Taylor reminded me of her, in this film. Big mistake.
Published 10 days ago by Alfred Montez Jr.
5.0 out of 5 stars Classic film staple AAWP
Great performances! Destructive, disillusioned, bare bones portrayals of angry, sad people made more brutally honest & cruel with the aid of pent up emotions and alcohol to... Read more
Published 20 days ago by J. Vitale
5.0 out of 5 stars A Must See!
This was a great movie, and one of if not the best by ET and RB. Everyone should watch it.
Published 1 month ago by Treasa Rabb
5.0 out of 5 stars WHY the ""Virginia Woolf"" reference....>
WARMOMG ''''SPOILERS''''
""" The Virginia Woolf reference is to the real life Woolf's long and finally tragic battle with depression, ending in suicide. Read more
Published 2 months ago by MAMZELLLE
1.0 out of 5 stars Defective tape.
Watched tape and when I tried to rewind it, the tape got stuck in the middle. I couldn't play or rewind it
Published 2 months ago by walter hess
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