Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?

Director: Mike Nichols
Year Released: 1966
Rating: 3.5

Stark, moody adaptation of Edward Albee's play (the title, according to Albee, was scrawled on a bathroom wall someplace) is assisted to no end by Haskell Wexler's wonderful black-and-white cinematography and brilliant lighting. Liz Taylor and Richard Burton "entertain" two guests - a young professor and his pixie wife (obviously representations of Taylor and Burton's characters when they were younger) - over a myriad of ice cubes and dashes of bourbon; as the night progresses, so does the insanity, as Burton and Taylor regularly scream at and belittle each other - there's enough hot intensity between them to power all of California (their well-documented off-screen problems assist them tremendously). As a tale of the psychotic game-playing, alcoholism and buried anger, it can't help but bring to mind O'Neill's Long Day's Journey Into Night - both register a '10' on the depressing scale. Taylor and Sandy Dennis (the young wife) won Oscars, but Burton is especially haunting - anyone who has a desire to be an actor should study his every gesture; it's one of acting's finest performances ever.