Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf with the great Taylor/Burton combo is supposed to be a drama but I always laugh throughout this movie, which I’ve seen now four or five times and saw again over the weekend. I’ve been thinking about this movie a lot for some reason but for me this movie turns into a 2-hour comedy that is so great that Turner Classic Movies with Robert Osborne did a special about it about a year and a half ago and brought in actress Ellen Barkin to give an expert analysis of it.
If you are not that familiar with this movie perhaps you are very young, with not much respect for movies that weren’t made in this century, which I’m afraid is very common among the younger generations. Think of Married With Children or The Honeymooners from the 1950s, which are about married people who seem to love each other but can’t go very long without pissing the other off and spend a lot of the marriage beating the hell out of each other verbally.
Virginia Woolf is one long argument between a couple, George and Martha, who have lost their son (fantasy perhaps?), with the mother especially not ready to accept this reality and not quite there mentally and taking out her anger on her husband, who is the father of their son. He is having issues with his wife about why their son is no longer there, and they go through these issues as they are entertaining guests. The man is in direct competition with George to the next professor at their school, yet they do not know each other very well.
I laugh through most of this movie because the shots that they take at each other are dead on because they know each other so well. The sarcasm is so direct and on target, and even though they are supposed to be entertaining guests, they can’t stay out of each other’s way for most of the movie and even bring their guests into the never-ending argument about what happened to their son and why he is no longer with them.