Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? is the film debut for Mike Nichols. The film was nominated for thirteen Academy Awards and won five, including Best Actress for Elizabeth Taylor, Best Supporting Actress for Sandy Dennis, Best Cinematography, Best Art Direction, and Best Costume Design.
The film is about a middle-aged couple named George and Martha (played by Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor, who were married at the time) coming back from a faculty party that Martha's father, who is the president of the college that George is working at. Martha invites a younger couple, Nick and Honey, (played by George Segal and Sandy Dennis) who are new to the college faculty to come over to their house and have their own party.
This is a powerhouse of a film, with amazing performances from everyone in the cast, which are only four actors, with incredible writing that is based on the controversial play by Edward Albee, and fantastic direction by Mike Nichols, who was originally stage director, uses great film making techniques with ease.
One of the best scenes in the film is when both couples go to a roadhouse. It starts with George forcing on the brakes as it cuts to an overhead shot of Honey "dancing like the wind". Nick tries to calm his drunken wife down, but she snaps at him and decides to not dance. Martha intervenes and dances with Nick in a rather sexual manner, with George sitting there knowing what Martha is doing, and Honey being naive about it. Martha tells Nick about a dark past in George's life, George hates it and about to strangle her, while Honey is shouting, "Violence, violence!" What's great about the scene is its vulgar, yet fascinating writing, intense performances from all of the actors, and how faster and choppy the editing gets as the scene plays on.
Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? is not a film for everybody, especially not a date movie, but with a fantastic screenplay, phenomenal performances, incredible direction, this film is an emotional roller coaster from beginning to end.