CAROLE LOMBARD - My Favorite Actress

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Great Film Perfomances: Elizabeth Taylor - Who's Afraid Of Virginia Woolf?

For this month's great film performance I chose Elizabeth Taylor's searing portrayal of middle age wife Martha in Who's Afraid Of Virgina Woolf? Liz happens to be my classic movie goddess for the month of February on my own blog and she is celebrating her 78th birthday on the 27th of February. Liz deservedly won her second Best Actress Oscar for her performance here as the harridan wife who constantly verbally abuses her husband George (real life on-again, off-again husband Richard Burton). This is the kind of role actors and actresses would kill to have and Liz takes full advantage of the terrific script as written by Ernest Lehman based on the stage play by Edward Albee. Liz gives a clinic on acting 101 and it's a treat to watch. The banter between her and Burton comes alive in every single scene they have together. She transforms herself into this frumpy, middle aged bitter wife by wearing little or no makeup and putting on a few pounds. And says what is on her mind to anyone without hesitation. Liz is very convincing in this role as she was only 33 when this film was made. She gives a truly remarkable performance that truly earned her a Academy Award. Liz won an Oscar years earlier for Butterfield 8, but felt that was a gesture of sympathy from the Academy voters due to her illness at the time. Well, there is no doubt about her win for Virginia Woolf, she is truly magnificent in this film. Her performance as Martha at first may have you hating this woman, but by the end of the film, you will understand and even sympathize with her. It's to Taylor's credit and ability that you can feel anything for this woman at all, but you do. She gets to strut her acting ability to the fullest in one of the best screen performances of all time. And let me just add, though while Liz downplayed her beauty here, she was still quite attractive. Only Liz Taylor could pull something like that off. Here is a sampling of some of the sensational dialogue delivered in this great film:
Martha: I looked at you tonight and you weren't there... And I'm gonna howl it out, and I'm not gonna give a damn what I do and I'm gonna make the biggest god-damn explosion you've ever heard.
George: Try and I'll beat you at your own game.
Martha: Is that a threat George, huh?
George: It's a threat, Martha.
Martha: You're gonna get it, baby.
George: Be careful Martha. I'll rip you to pieces.
Martha: You're not man enough. You haven't the guts.
George: Total war.
Martha: Total.
Martha: I swear, if you existed, I'd divorce you.
Martha: I disgust me. You know, there's only been one man in my whole life who's ever made me happy. Do you know that?
Martha: George, my husband... George, who is out somewhere there in the dark, who is good to me - whom I revile, who can keep learning the games we play as quickly as I can change them. Who can make me happy and I do not wish to be happy. Yes, I do wish to be happy. George and Martha: Sad, sad, sad. Whom I will not forgive for having come to rest; for having seen me and having said: yes, this will do.

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