Mike Nichols - Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? (1966), 8/10

This film adaptation of Albee's play is very true to the source material, yet takes things to a whole new level. This is largely because of Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton's performances, the two as a duo are absolutely stunning and give a tragically realistic portrayal of the bitter couple, playing wonderfully in a back-and-forth sparring reminiscent of the play's consistently tortured feeling. There is a striking realism throughout the entire two hour film that borders on unsettling and claustrophobic in the best sense imaginable. The play itself as source is truly outstanding and gives the film its narrative strength, but it is truly elevated to another level with a combination of atmosphere, focused and intentional visuals, and nuanced performance from all four characters. The film rarely deviates from the play, only adding scenes outside of George and Martha's house as well as some changes to the profanity, namely the insertion of "goddamn" over expletives like "fuck you" that were used in Broadway, despite the original screenplay incorporating a range of these verbal attacks. There are subtleties of the story that add a sense of playfulness blended with dread, and this feeling is exacerbated by Burton's performance in particular. While Taylor gives the most electrifying, charged performance, and truly the most impressive, Burton's interpretation of George provides the backbone for much of the comedy and one of the most interesting relationships outside of George and Martha, the relationship between George and Nick, Nick being completely unidentified within the dialogue of both the film and the play, a poetic choice from Albee extended into this film. Speaking to its quality of filmmaking and its contemporary reception, the film was one of only two to be nominated in every applicable category at the Academy Awards, so this is not an underrated film, just a fantastic translation of a fantastic play. The play itself is worth reading but the film adapts its ethos and material so literally and expertly that for modern audiences the film will suffice in place of both. The title of the film exemplifies the content of the play, alluding to several themes and considerations within a short phrase. The elusive but persistent "big bad wolf" of reality, the irony of professional intellectuals, and the inherent humor of tragedy within the context of societal contexts.