Director: Mike Nichols
Written by : Edward Albee
Starring: Elizabeth Taylor* Richard Burton* George Segal* Sandy Dennis
This film takes place at a New England University, where history Professor George(Burton) lives with his wife Martha (Taylor) it’s interesting as over the course of one night the veneer of the perfect 1950’s wife and husband is decimated.
George and Martha invite a new professor Nick (Segal) and his wife Honey (Dennis) to their home for a nightcap after a mixer.
What ensues as the night progresses is the deep unhappiness between Marth and George, he a mild-mannered professor who has been passed over many times, and who’s’ life is filled with searing disappointment.
His wife Martha a hard-drinking harpie, who constantly berates her husband for his every failing, growing more vicious in her derision as each year passes, her dissatisfaction total, and the two of them now caught in this spiral of destruction.
Nick and Honey are at first politely confused at the turn of events but fuelled by drink and encouraged by Martha they stay and watch, they are the perfect foil to watch George and Martha’s last stand as it were.
As they are in their first years of marriage they begin to wonder if this is how they will end up as the older couple thrust and parry, lacerating each other with their words, that cut so deeply, but unable to stop as their vitriol over takes them all, it’s so raw you can feel yourself recoiling from the screen.
It’s a decisive look at a relationship falling apart, especially during a time when happy families was the order of the day and showed what really goes on behind closed doors, especially when expectations from either side aren’t met, which in turn becomes a game of recrimination.
This role for Taylor is definitive and proves she was great movie actress having also to ain weight and look much older for the role she grabs it by the throat and gives a stellar performance, Burton an actor but not movie star is perfectly cast, his performance searing as he bears his soul as the downtrodden man.
Taylor won her second Oscar for this sadly Burton lost out to Paul Schofield in “A Man For all Seasons”
Segal and Dennis perfectly cast, especially Duncan with her waif like appearance and hesitant style of acting.