Great Actresses – Great Scenes – #1: Elizabeth Taylor in ‘Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf’?

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Based on the Tony Award-winning 1962 play by Edward Albee, Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? was a box-office smash, acclaimed by the critics, and won five Academy Awards from thirteen nominations: Best Supporting Actress (Sandy Dennis), Best Cinematography (Haskell Wexler), Best Art Direction, Best Costume Design and Best Actress (Elizabeth Taylor).

The film stars the real-life husband and wife team and the famous tabloid couple of Liz Taylor and Richard Burton, in their fourth of eleven films they appeared opposite in. Taylor, 33 at the time, gives her best performance ever, playing a character you both despise and feel sorry for – here she is at once voluptuous, spiteful, cynical, lustful and compassionate.

The scene featured in the video below showcased the striking cinematography by legendary D.O.P. Haskell Wexler, and a thrilling dance sequence between Taylor and George Segal at a roadside cafe. Director-choreographer Herbert Ross staged the dance sequence, before going on to direct his own feature films which include Footloose.

One of the great directorial debuts in film history, and the first film in which all it’s cast members were nominated for an Oscar, Virginia Woolf has become a watershed film. It was credited with bringing down the old Production Code, and the first movie to be given the MPAA tag: “No one under 18 will be admitted unless accompanied by his parent.” A must see for Elizabeth Taylor fans, in an emotional draining motion picture that you will never forget.

– Ricky D

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