Who’s Afraid of Virginia Wolf? (1962)

95EPISODE #23:  The film opens with a middle-aged couple drunkenly stumbling home from a neighbor’s party. We soon learn that they’re living at a New England university where the man (played by Richard Burton) is a history professor and his wife (played by Elizabeth Taylor) is the daughter of the university’s president. We also learn that these two really like to drink while they bicker. It’s 2am, but they help themselves to another splash or two of bourbon, when the wife suddenly remembers that she invited a handsome young biology professor and his “mousey wife” to stop by for a nightcap. Yes, at 2am. Once the young couple arrives, we stay up all night with the binge-drinking foursome as their conversations delve into deeply personal subjects to the point where emotions are raw, secrets are exposed, and they drunkenly descend into a rabbit hole of physiological mind games and emotional warfare. The film is based on a play by Edward Albee, and in fact the screenplay – credited to Ernest Lehman – remains very true to the play. With clever direction by Mike Nichols in his feature debut, this ‘play on film’ is likely to leave any viewer with a long lasting impression.

In this episode, James and Lara are joined by voiceover artist Susan Eisenberg (THE JUSTICE LEAGUE’S Wonder Woman) to talk about the meaning of the title and living without illusions, La Liz’s iconic cackle, and everything that is going on beneath the surface. When people’s secrets come out, and the surface layers are peeled back…what are you left with? In the case of VIRGINIA WOOLF…a brilliant and disturbing film.

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