Brick Pollitt (Paul Newman), an alcoholic ex-football player, drinks his days away and resists the affections of his wife, Maggie (Dame Elizabeth Taylor). His reunion with his father, Big Daddy (Burl Ives), who is dying of cancer, jogs a host of memories and revelations for both father and son.
The only son of wealthy widow Violet Venable dies while on vacation with his cousin Catherine. What the girl saw was so horrible that she went insane; now Mrs. Venable wants Catherine lobotomized to cover up the truth.
Joseph L. Mankiewicz
George and Martha are a middle aged married couple, whose charged relationship is defined by vitriolic verbal battles, which underlies what seems like an emotional dependence upon each other. This verbal abuse is fueled by an excessive consumption of alcohol. George being an associate History professor in a New Carthage university where Martha's father is the President adds an extra dimension to their relationship. Late one Saturday evening after a faculty mixer, Martha invites Nick and Honey, an ambitious young Biology professor new to the university and his mousy wife, over for a nightcap. As the evening progresses, Nick and Honey, plied with more alcohol, get caught up in George and Martha's games of needing to hurt each other and everyone around them. The ultimate abuse comes in the form of talk of George and Martha's unseen sixteen year old son, whose birthday is the following day.Written by
It can now be said: 1. Apart from its widespread critical acclaim, it has provoked more discussion, interest and excitement than any other picture in memory. 2. People want to see it - in unprecedented numbers. In its first engagements it has shattered every record in the history of all theatres involved. 3. It has become a significant and extraordinary entertainment event. It is truly a unique motion picture. See more »
In a 1998 interview with the Hollywood Reporter Jack Valenti recalled being locked in battle with three powerful Hollywood men - Jack L. Warner, Ben Kalmenson (Warner's right-hand man) and attorney Louis Nizer - over content in Virginia Woolf; specifically the words "hump the hostess" and "screw." Valenti said, "Kalmenson was a foul-talking guy; every other word he uttered had four letters. They played the good cop/bad cop on me. I got out of that meeting and said to Louis: 'This is ridiculous. We've got to do something about that.'" See more »
In the bedroom scene near the beginning, when Burton lies on the bed, the books behind his head are fully visible, but when Taylor lies down next to him a minute later, the books are half-obscured by the pillows. See more »
Still powerful, harrowing view of the "Anti-Ozzie and Harriet"
This is still an exceptional film from the 1960s. Though some of the epithets are obviously softening much stronger words, the language is frank and brutal, Martha's bludgeoning body-blows balanced by George's icepick thrusts. Edward Lehman's respectful screenplay gently opens up Edward Albee's one-set play while keeping a certain claustrophobic atmosphere. Mike Nichols' first directing effort is stunning in its lack of artifice; rarely do you feel that the director has done much more than turn on the camera and watch four actors, all at the top of their game, tear into their roles. George Segal's work in this movie is criminally underrated, but his reactive work as studly, ultimately disappointing Nick should be mandatory study by all young actors. Sandy Dennis' fluttery turn as mousy, wifey Honey is powerful also; a lot more is going on than you might think. Richard Burton is staggering as George ("Georgie Porgie Put-upon Pie"), and his performance demonstrates the magic that he could bring to a worthy role. Elizabeth Taylor's work here still astounds. The physical transformation she undertook to become aging harpy Martha is amazing enough, but her performance seems to channel a hurricane's force and fury. By turns hilarious, maddening and then, at the end, exhausted and defeated yet again, Taylor demonstrates acting, particularly film acting, at its best. The film is by no means easy or "Hollywood" in feel-- the audience is as exhausted as the characters at the end. But this was a bracing, necessary antidote to the impossible ideal of marriage usually portrayed in the movies. A towering film.
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