8:00 PM, 22nd August, 2006
A troubled, middle-aged couple George and Martha (Burton and Taylor) invite a younger couple, Nick and Honey (Segal and Dennis) for some drinks after a party. George is a history professor, Nick a new biology professor, and Marthas father runs the university where the two men work. George and Martha are drunk and commence a slanging match even before the arrival of the younger couple, trading witty repartee that eventually degenerates into verbal abuse during the course of the evening. Nick and Honey are uncomfortable at the tirade, not knowing whether it is in jest or serious. As the night progresses, the guests start to turn on each other, and the fa((ccedil))ade of a happy marriage crumbles. Elizabeth Taylor has never been better as the viperish Martha. At first she appears vile and obnoxious but, during the course of the evening, layer upon layer is peeled away to reveal years of pain. She won an Oscar for her performance, as did Sandy Dennis, but Burton and Segal are also excellent. Mike Nichols's (The Graduate, Closer) directorial debut proved to be a landmark of cinema. In sticking closely to Edward Albee's remarkable play, the film broke a number of taboos as far as language on screen was concerned, thus proving to be the final nail in the coffin of the restrictive Production Code. It also represented a new maturity in cinema that had not been seen before.