VHS / DVD
An Ely Landau Production
An American Film Theatre Release
Filmed on location near Crystal Palace - London - England - UK
Premiere: December 10, 1973
The entire action takes place over a period of 36 hours in an upper-middle-class Connecticut family house. A middle-aged couple, Agnes and Tobias, make do with an accommodative marriage in which delicate balances must always be observed. Living with them is Agnes's alcoholic sister Claire, and they are joined by their daughter Julia, a veteran of four broken marriages who has become totally jaded and disillusioned with life, and takes it out on those around her. Into this forlorn environment come yet another couple, Harry and Edna, who have fled from their own house because something there has aroused in them an inexplicable terror. Agnes and Tobias, who have been friends with them for many years, are caught between a desire to be hospitable and a need to maintain their family's privacy.
Paul D. Zimmerman - Newsweek - 1973
"Today Albee seems diminished by time as does his rhetorically florid, hollowly bitchy world. [Director] Richardson aggravates matters with a heavyhanded approach that deprives the play of the wit and theatricality Alan Schneider used to levitate the Broadway production. Robbed of currency and comedy, Albee's nattering family - Katharine Hepburn's imperially crotchety grande dame, her ineffectual and dry-as-dust husband (Paul Scofield), her drunken maiden sister (Kate Reid) and hysterical, oft-divorced daughter (Lee Remick) - has become a household of superlative bores."
J.R. Jones– Chicago Reader
"Edward Albee has never allowed other writers to adapt his plays for film (Ernest Lehman's credited script for Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf was actually dumped in favor of the original text), and wisely so: his dialogue, with its antiphonies, violent crosscurrents, and meticulous stops and stresses, is hard enough for actors to master, let alone writers emulate. Consequently, the only other film of Albee’s work is this stuffy 1973 production by the American Film Theatre. Paul Scofield and Katharine Hepburn star as a New England couple hosting their flaky grown daughter (Lee Remick), Hepburn’s drunken sister (Kate Reid), and two old friends (Joseph Cotten and Betsy Blair) in the grip of a nameless fear. The players are marvelous but ill served by Tony Richardson's leather-bound direction; a single video camera pointed at a stage performance would have been more electric."
Stewe Grant – Time Out
"Albee's powerful, coruscatingly brilliant study of tribal rites among the New England jet set. It is also first and foremost a stage play, utterly dependent on direct confrontation between actors and audience, verbal in origins, drawing-room in setting and, on the surface, eminently static. Richardson (as is the norm in this American Film Theatre series) settles for 'filming' the proceedings, and only succeeds in evaporating the tension and the clarity of the original. That said, the cast on show is unbeatable. They make the whole grinding affair bearable, but you’ll still get a stiff neck."
What Kate had to say
"I've been a big fan of his [Paul Scofield] for a long time. He has a keen eye but he's not as noisy as I am. I'm insubordinate."
What fellow actors, the director and friends had to say
Edward Albee – Commentary Track DVD
"She and I got along very well. She kept telling me to get my hair cut and I kept telling her to learn her lines accurately. That was our exchange: 'Learn your lines,' 'Get your hair cut.' One was the answer to the other."
Ronald Bergan – An Independent Woman
"The production team tried to make it as comfortable as possible, but there was no running water, which prevented Kate from taking her constant cold water showers. One day, during a break in filming, Kate walked down the hill, and knocked at the door of a house. A woman answered the door. 'Excuse me,' said Kate. 'We are filming in the house up road, but there is no running water. I wondered whether I could take a bath in your bathroom.' The astonished woman, who recognized the star, asked whether it was a Candid Camera prank. Reassured, she allowed Kate to use her bathroom every day throughout the shoot."
Betsy Blair – Commentary Track DVD
"The first morning we were all there and somebody came bounding up the steps with three little bouquets of violets. It was Katharine Hepburn with one for each of the other actresses. It was that kind of energy and attention that was striking right off."
Betsy Blair – Commentary Track DVD
"She got up at four in the morning and did all these things before she got on the set. A hot bath when she first woke up and then exercises, then a shower and washing her hair and putting her hair in rollers. And she would get into bed with the script for the day and go over it again, and then she had this enormous breakfast of bacon and eggs and cereal and orange juice and toast, and then she would do her makeup."