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Humbert Humbert, a divorced British professor of French literature, travels to small-town America for a teaching position. He allows himself to be swept into a relationship with Charlotte Haze, his widowed and sexually famished landlady, whom he marries in order that he might gain access to her fourteen-year-old daughter—Lolita—with whom he has fallen hopelessly in love, but whose affections shall be appropriated by a devious trickster named Clare Quilty.
|Studio :||Seven Arts Productions, Allied Artists, Transworld Pictures,|
|Crew :||Director of Photography, Editor,|
|Cast :||James Mason Shelley Winters Lois Maxwell Sue Lyon Peter Sellers|
|Genre :||Drama Romance|
Kubrick makes you despise yourself---With characters that appear sympathetic at the beginning and turning more and more despicable as the film goes on and showing the unstable mental condition of the main character without throwing it at your face, Lolita manages to keep you uneasy throughout the film. Kubrick's attempt in dark comedy is highly successful here which he will perfect in a much more comedic Dr Strangelove. Lolita could have been a much more complexly woven tale if not for the censorship of the time. From what I've heard the original novel is much better and a lot are omitted here which makes this looks like more sided with the character of Humbert but the way I see it Kubrick have made the audience uneasy and to an extent made them despise themselves for sympathising with these characters by the end of the film. He never wants everything to be too black and white which is what I believe he tried to implement here as well.
Lolita 55 years later---I sat to watch Lolita for the third time. The first time I was too young to truly understand what I was seeing. Then I read the book a few years later and saw the film again. That time it left a mark. I detested James Mason's Humbert Humbert to such a degree that stopped me from accepting him in other roles other than utter villains. To see it now after two decades is a whole other story - All of a sudden James Mason's Humbert Humbert has become human, very human. Corrupt and haunted by the awareness of his own weakness. What a performance. Shelley Winters is superb, unafraid and bold bringing to life an embarrassing human spectacle. What a performance. Peter Sellers is chilling in all of his Quilty incarnations. Sue Lyon is sublime as the innocent torturer. Stanley Kubrick never made 2 films alike but I'm starting to suspect that as literary adaptations go, this is his finest.
Jailbait---Whether the film is faithful to the classic Nabokov novel or not, I would like to read the book in order to compare the two and to determine whether the printed version is as enjoyable as the movie. I recently did this with the "Cider House Rules" and, after struggling through 600 pages of the most graphic depictions of very detailed human anatomy, as well as the gloomiest of characters and locales, I should have let well enough alone, but I will always crave apples of all varieties for the rest of my life, and an apple a day keeps the doctor away. But I digress.Aside from Kubrick's excellent direction, what makes this film succeed are its well chosen cast, its sharp and thoughtful screenplay, its interesting locales, and its musical score. James Mason's brilliant portrayal of Humbert Humbert transforms an ordinarily, dull professor into a fascinating, psychologically complex character as he is gradually consumed by his infatuation with Lolita, a fourteen year old girl who eventually becomes his step daughter. Shelley Winters, cast once again as an unpleasant and often whining matron type with a grating, irritating voice ("Night of the Hunter", "Place in the Sun", "Patch of Blue", and the list goes on and on and on), perfectly fits the part of sexually frustrated Charlotte Haze, who is Lolita's overbearing and obnoxious mother. While several other reviewers did not appreciate Peter Sellers as Quilty and as several disguised characters who stalk Humbert and Lolita during their road trips, I found him to be very entertaining and don't believe that the film would have held my interest as much without him. I love how he throws himself into that German accent and the characters who accompany it. A whimsical, unpredictable Quilty sharply contrasts against a dead serious, humdrum Humbert, so an explosion is inevitable.As to Sue Lyon, I found her to be exactly as she was in "Night of the Iguana" without much of a variation--very cute but aloof and, for the most part, emotionally detached from everyone and everything around her. Yes, she cries when she learns of mother Charlotte's fate but not for very long. That was how she was supposed to play the role, and she performed it very well. Once in receipt of her urgently needed inheritance, what are her last words to a shattered, destroyed Humbert, "I hope that we can see each other some time!" or something like that.While I found Bob Harris's "Lolita Ya Ya" theme song annoying and can't blame composer Bernard Hermann for not wanting to have anything to do with it, I thought that Nelson Riddle's score was otherwise quite beautiful, strongly enhancing the drama on the screen.I'm always curious about film locations, especially when they contribute significantly to the overall atmosphere, as is the case here. Although nearly the entire film is supposed to take place in New Hampshire and in Ohio, it was actually filmed in England, Rhode Island, and the Albany, New York area. In case you were wondering, Lolita's ramshackle neighborhood at the end of the movie is located in Rensselaer, New York with a view of Albany, the state capital city in the background. While there supposedly aren't as many double entendres and word plays as in the novel, they pop up quite often in the film. Of course, Mr. Swine would be a friend of Quilty's. Why would we ever doubt that? Did you get the one about Quilty's uncle who was Lolita's dentist and who needed to fill her cavity? Oh, never mind.
Kubrick misses the point of Nabokov's classic novel---"Lolita, light of my life, fire of my loins. My sin, my soul. Lo-lee-ta: the tip of the tongue taking a trip of three steps down the palate to tap, at three, on the teeth. Lo. Lee. Ta. She was Lo, plain Lo, in the morning, standing four feet ten in one sock. She was Lola in slacks. She was Dolly at school. She was Dolores on the dotted line. But in my arms she was always Lolita.". Few novels can claim to have a better introduction than Vladimir Nabokov's 1955 novel. 'Lolita' was the Russian's love letter to the English language - a masterpiece in every sense. The topic would leave critics, who were yet to recover from the "shock" of the Catcher in the Rye, startled. The tagline of Kubrick's adaptation (NB! Nabokov never wrote the screenplay) was, and still is, "How did they ever make a movie of Lolita?". I'll tell you how - by removing most controversial aspects from the movie. The first mistake of the movie was changing Lolita's age from 12 to 16 years old. Understandable, but fatal. Sue Lyon's's otherwise flawless performance is underwhelmed by the fact that she isn't controversial enough. Lolita was supposed to be a novel exploring the darkness of a sexual predator, an active paedophile. Kubrick's film is a dark comedy, where crucial moments of the story are replaced by slapstick jokes. The cast of the movie poses further problems as well. While Shelley Winters shines as Charlotte Haze, James Mason is allowed to take the wrong directions throughout the movie. His character, Hubert Humbert is a sexual predator in the original novel, but both James Mason and Stanley Kubrick re-imagines the character as somewhat likable fellow who "just loved Lolita". This is wrong on so many levels. Peter Seller's, whom the movie mistakenly begins and ends with, is allowed to run rampage, as if Stanley Kubrick couldn't physically restrain him from the set. Seller's, a brilliant actor, is given too much focus (adding up to the ridiculous run-time of 2 hours and 32 minutes), and his presence undermines Mason's character completely. If one were to exclude the novel completely, 'Lolita' can be considered a decent film. Certainly not amongst Kubrick's finest, but a film with fine cinematic qualities nevertheless. Clever scene transitions with the help of cinematographer Oswald, and a catchy theme from Bob Harries makes parts of the movie enjoyable. I give 'Lolita' 6/10 stars, in other words - average. Kubrick was never known for making good adaptations (Stephen King hates The Shining), and this is a testament to one of his few flaws.
A different story---It's a good movie, actors' performance is decent, jokes are funny and so on... But it's not that "Lolita" I was desiring to see. It's just an ordinary movie, not that thing I expected to be made by such a master as Kubrick. We watch a very usual story with a bit of suddenness. Moreover, it is a very different story.Lolita's attitude to Humbert is too positive, she is kind of cold to him in the book, if speak about her in a few words. Her actions seem illogical in the movie. Especially the final one, that very disappearance with the "uncle". Seventeen years old Lolita, aka Mrs. Schiller, doesn't differ from the "previous version" anyhow, even though she was a different person in the end of the book, after all this sadness and hardship she mentioned. I remember that very moment in the novel when Lolita calls Humbert "honey" during their last talk. It was kind of flash of warm and joyful light for me then. I nearly felt it. THAT was HOW she changed. All in one word - that's the power of Nabokov's pen or whatever he wrote with. Movie awakens no feeling that can be named similar. At least Lolita's character doesn't.Humbert was a handsome man, a gentleman of Old Good Times in the book. He was attractive in many ways. And he was confident, and he was nearly almighty with his knowledge, charm and abilities. Movie's Humbert evokes only pity. I don't say Mason is bad, it's just not his character or his strange view of the role.Charlotta is all wrong in the movie. She's this kind of nearly village woman with her poor manners and behavior. She acted in a different way in the book, she was a woman of different qualities, who wouldn't scream and shout as mad in presence of anyone she wants to have good relationships with, for example.Plot is cut, events are mixed. I can't understand why Kubrick decided to make a movie by this novel. He failed in bringing "Lolita" to the screen, yet he succeeded in making a good film.