Fall swirls its cape, spreads its tears, colors the landscape, as October kicks into gear. Welcome to this month’s film theme, “the dynamics of love and death”. Our first screening will be the classic film version of Edward Albee’s prize-winning play, WHO’S AFRAID OF VIRGINIA WOOLF? (1966), directed by Mike Nichols. He started out in the 50’s doing comedy, and was one of the founders of “Second City Improv”. Later he performed for several years doing an act with Elaine May. He has been married four times, but has been married to Diane Sawyer for over 20 years. He is one of only 12 people to be an EGOT, having won an Emmy, a Grammy, and Oscar, and a Tony. He has directed 22 films, and VIRGINIA WOOLF was his first. Other films of his I enjoyed included THE GRADUATE (1967), CATCH-22 (1970), SILKWOOD (1983), THE BIRDCAGE (1996), ANGELS IN AMERICA (2003) and CHARLIE WILSON’S WAR (2007).
The film’s musical score was written by Alex North, who has scored 78 films, including A STREETCAR NAMED DESIRE (1951), VIVA ZAPATA (1952), THE ROSE TATTOO (1955), THE RAINMAKER (1956), THE WONDERFUL COUNTRY (1959), SPARTACUS (1960), CLEOPATRA (1963), and PRIZZI’S HONOR (1985).
The exceptional B&W cinematography was done by Haskell Wexler, lauded as one of Hollywood’s ten best in history. He has lensed 72 films, and some of them I enjoyed incuded STUDS LONIGAN (1960), AMERICA, AMERICA (1963), IN THE HEAT OF THE NIGHT (1967), THE CONVERSATION (1974), ONE FLEW OVER THE CUCKOO’S NEST (1975), BOUND FOR GLORY (1976), COMING HOME (1978) and MATEWAN (1987).
WHO’S AFRAID OF VIRGINIA WOOLF? (1966)
Directed by Mike Nichols @ 131 minutes.
The film stars Richard Burton, Elizabeth Taylor, George Segal, and Sandy Dennis.
Synopsis: George and Martha are a middle-aged married couple whose charged relationship is defined by a passionate and vitriolic running verbal battle, fueled by an over consumption of alcohol, cheating on one another, and complicated by a deep sadness due to the death of their only “child”.
Taglines: “You are invited to George and Martha’s for an evening of fun and games.”
“Drop in for drinks and brace yourself.”
Awards: This film won five Academy Awards, and was nominated for a total of thirteen. All four stars were nominated.
Trivia: Sandy Dennis suffered a miscarriage on the set of the film. It was the most expensive black and white film ever produced, 7.5 million dollars in 1966–mostly salaries. Elizabeth Taylor has always felt that “Martha” was her favorite role, and her very best performance. Robert Redford turned down the part of Nick. Bette Davis, Ingrid Bergman, Mercedes McCambridge, Rosalind Russell, and Patricia Neal were all considered for the role of Martha. James Mason, Cary Grant, Henry Fonda, Jack Lemmon, and Peter O’Toole were all considered for the role of George. The original Broadway production, starring Arthur Hill and Uta Hagen, ran two years. Playwright, Edward Albee preferred James Mason and Bette Davis for the leads. Mike Nichols wanted to direct FIRST BLOOD (1982), with Dustin Hoffman as John Rambo.
So mark your calendars for this Friday, October 7, 2011 to see Mike Nichol’s triumphant directorial debut, WHO’S AFRAID OF VIRGINIA WOOLF? It will screen at 924 Broadway, in the Pythian Temple, at street level, across from Theater on the Square, in the heart of Tacoma’s Theater District. Come early and enjoy some film fellowship, and perhaps a delicious meal prepared by the Phantom Director and Farishta. Food is served at 6:15 p.m. The TFC Raffle will be held, with a DVD from my personal collection as a free door prize, and for those folks who want to purchase more tickets, a cash prize will be given away too, made up of 40% of the collected funds. The feature will screen at 7:15 p.m., running 131 minutes, so the event will be over near 10:00 p.m. See you at the movies!