ningyoprints

Notes from ningyo editions studio and gallery

Lobby Card Series #1: Whose Afraid of Virginia Woolf?

lc_whos_afraid

Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? was director Mike Nichols’ first movie, and it locks the viewer into a claustrophobic train wreck of an evening fueled by booze and long-simmering resentments (which in turn are fueled by more booze).  The college president’s daughter (Elizabeth Taylor) and her brow-beaten, pathetically under-achieving husband (Richard Burton) whose years in the history department have reduced him to academic deadwood seemingly do nothing but drink, fight and banter.  When a new, young biology teacher and his meek simp of a wife stop by for drinks at 2 am, the night veers into hissing recriminations and devastating revelations for all involved.  At the time of filming, Burton and Taylor were 41 and 34, but their joint performance leaves you believing they’d been married a hundred years.  Burton – bloated yet sunken by his real-life alcohol consumption – looks no younger than a very old 55 (with Taylor, having gained twenty pounds for the role in an as-yet unheard of feat in the days before method acting, looks at least twenty years older herself).  Sandy Dennis, as the new teacher’s wife, won an Oscar for her delirious, demented performance, despite being passed out for a third of the film and slurring drunk for the rest.  No surgeon’s blade could have trimmed the source material (the play by Edward Albee), so near to the marrow.

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The many moods of Martha.

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Sandy Dennis

david curcio

Whose Afraid… (verso)

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