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WHO'S AFRAID OF VIRGINIA WOOLF? | Dir. Mike Nichols | 1966 | 131 min

Controversy, a first-time director and combustible stars: 'Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?' was hardly a sure thing

Fifty years ago last month, a lacerating, dark comedy-drama opened in theaters, helping change the landscape of American cinema. “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?” – based on Edward Albee’s Tony-winning play – not only captured that landmark American drama’s game-changing interpersonal dynamics, but also marked the film directing debut of Mike Nichols and helped topple the archaic Motion Picture Production Code.   

Released on Blu-ray in May by Warner Archives, the 1966 film was no sure thing as it made its way from stage to screen. An emotional horror story, both the play and the film triggered controversy and challenged the status quo.

The play, marking Albee's Broadway debut, opened Oct. 13, 1962, at the Billy Rose Theatre, was unfolding. The action takes place on a New England college campus in the home of middle-aged history professor George and his fiery wife, Martha, as they "entertain" – devour is more like it – a younger couple into the wee hours of the night. READ MORE, via LA Times, originally published Jun 30,2016.

ACADEMY AWARDS, USA 1967 - Won (Oscar, Best Actress in a Leading Role | Elizabeth Taylor, Best Actress in a Supporting Role | Sandy Dennis, Best Cinematography, Black-and-White | Haskell Wexler, Best Art Direction-Set Decoration, Black-and-White | Richard Sylbert, George James Hopkins, Best Costume Design, Black-and-White | Irene Sharaff), Nominated - (Oscar, Best Picture | Ernest Lehman, Best Actor in a Leading Role | Richard Burton, Best Actor in a Supporting Role | George Segal, Best Director | Mike Nichols, Best Writing, Screenplay Based on Material from Another Medium | Ernest Lehman, Best Sound | George Groves (Warner Bros. SSD), Best Film Editing | Sam O'Steen, Best Music, Original Music Score | Alex North)
GOLDEN GLOBES, USA 1967 - Nominated (Golden Globe, Best Motion Picture - Drama, Best Director | Mike Nichols, Best Actress - Drama | Elizabeth Taylor, Best Actor - Drama | Richard Burton, Best Supporting Actress | Sandy Dennis, Best Supporting Actor | George Segal, Best Screenplay | Ernest Lehman)
BAFTA AWARDS 1967 - Won (BAFTA Film Award, Best British Actress | Elizabeth Taylor, Best Film from any Source | Mike Nichols, Best British Actor | Richard Burton, For The Spy Who Came in from the Cold)
AMERICAN CINEMA EDITORS, USA 1967 - Nominated (Eddie, Best Edited Feature Film | Sam O'Steen)
BAMBI AWARDS 1968 - Won (Bambi, Best Actress - International | Elizabeth Taylor, Best Actor - International | Richard Burton)
DIRECTORS GUILD OF AMERICA, USA 1967 - Nominated (DGA Award, Outstanding Directorial Achievement in Motion Pictures | Mike Nichols)
GRAMMY AWARDS 1967 - Nominated (Grammy, Best Original Score Written for a Motion Picture or Television Show | Alex North)
Best Actress | Elizabeth Taylor)
LAUREL AWARDS 1967 - Won (Golden Laurel, Drama, Male Dramatic Performance | Richard Burton, Female Dramatic Performance | Elizabeth Taylor, Female Supporting Performance | Sandy Dennis), Nominated (Golden Laurel, Male Supporting Performance | George Segal)
NATIONAL BOARD OF REVIEW, USA 1967 - Won (NBR Award, Best Actress | Elizabeth Taylor), Top Ten Films
NATIONAL FILM PRESERVATION BOARD, USA 2013 - Won (National Film Registry)
National Society of Film Critics Awards, USA 1967 - Nominated (NSFC Award, Best Actor | Richard Burton. Tied with Max von Sydow for Hawaii (1966) in 2nd place, Best Film)
NEW YORK FILM CRITICS CIRCLE AWARDS 1966 - Won (NYFCC Award, Best Actress | Elizabeth Taylor, Tied with Lynn Redgrave for Georgy Girl (1966).), Nominated (NYFCC Award, Best Actor | Richard Burton, Best Film)
ONLINE FILM & TELEVISION ASSOCIATION AWARDS 2013 - Won (OFTA Film Hall of Fame, Motion Picture)
WRITERS GUILD OF AMERICA, USA 1967 - Won (WGA Award (Screen) , Best Written American Drama | Ernest Lehman)

Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? is the first selection in our SPOTLIGHT: WILLIS AND WEXLER series.