Humbert Humbert is a middle-aged British novelist who is both appalled by and attracted to the vulgarity of American culture. When he comes to stay at the boarding house run by Charlotte Haze, he soon becomes obsessed with Lolita, the woman's teenaged daughter.
Like the book, the film is strongest in the beginning, as Humbert Humbert (James Mason) takes a room with a widow (Shelley Winters), only after spotting her teenage daughter (Sue Lyon) lounging around in a bikini. The tension between his forbidden attraction, concealed in sly glances and little gestures, all while Winters practically throws herself at him, is fantastic. Unfortunately, after an event I won't describe to avoid spoiling it, the film drags on and gets a bit ridiculous. The point is to show how ridiculous an infatuation can make a man behave, even if it is taboo, bringing him to humiliation, but the road trip, being pursued, and the recurring character played by Peter Sellers, who is so endearing in the beginning, eventually gets over-used and annoying. The film is far too long at 152 minutes, and another screenwriter should have been used instead of Nabokov. There are several places the film suffers from the Production Code, and we never really feel the sickness of lust from Mason, but Director Stanley Kubrick does get a number of allusions in, and perhaps it's better that the majority of it was left to the imagination. It's disturbing that Sue Lyon was just 14 when filming started, but her performance is impressive, and Shelley Winters is also strong. Kubrick does reasonably well, but errs by wandering into some silly comedic moments, and should have tightened things up. There's enough here to be entertained when you're not cringing though.
Kurbrick was one of the greatest film makers of all time. His attention to detail and his meticulous style is rarely seen in films today. It was rarely seen in his day too. The down side of his perfectionist nature thought, was that he didn't make many films. Still he did make a few classics in his day. Films like A Clockwork Orange, 2001, Paths of Glory, Dr. Strangelove and The Shinning. One film that often gets overlooked though, is Lolita.This film is different. The tagline is "How Did they Ever Make a Movie Out of Lolita." The plot is this, Prof. Humbert Humbert comes to America, rents a house, meets the landlady's young nymphet daughter, falls instantly in love and purses her, rather relentlessly. So yes the plot of this story is rather unconventional. Kubrick has gone on record saying, that if he knew the kind of limitations there would be, that he wouldn't have even bothered making the movie. Basically with the censors of the day, the relationship between Humbert and Lolita couldn't be shown or talked about in any real way. Now this movie came out in 1962 and to keep things in context, you should remember that in the 1950's married couples on TV and movies were shown sleeping in separate beds at night. So the idea of showing a man in his 50's sleeping with a young girl (the actress who played Lolita, Sue Lyon was only 14 at the time) was pretty much out of the question. And while some might see this as a major problem, it really isn't. The relationship, while never out right admitted, is alluded to, a lot. They say it without actually saying it.The real strength of this movie though, is the actors. James Mason plays Humbert perfectly. His character oozes aristocratic disdain and disgust for everything around him. Especially Shelly Winters, that's the landlady. That is, until he sees Lolita. Once he sets his eyes on her, that's it. While his intentions are a little repulsive, he pursues them with such a dogged genuine determination, you do sympathize with him a bit.And Sue Lyon was absolutely perfect as Lolita. The way she carries herself, the way she talks, the way she teases Humbert. On the one hand it seems like she knows exactly what she is doing. She knows the effect she has on him and she seems to love toying with him. Although, on the other hand, she might just be a teenager fooling around. With her character it is very hard to tell. One scene, she seems wise beyond on her age and in the next she is carrying on like petulant child.And of course we have Shelly Winters, one of the most underrated actress of all time. And yes her character, Lolita's mother, is very shrill and annoying. That was kind of Shelly Winters bread and butter, but she was supposed to be shrill an annoying. An obstacle for Humbert to get past. Still, Shelly Winters brought such a wounded vulnerability to her character. This is a woman who lost her husband, is not very bright and her new tenant Humbert is uh kind of problematic. There is one scene where she breaks down and it is truly heartbreaking.This film is also filled with Kubrick's usual cinematic flair. There are so many little things hidden in the visuals that you don't notice at first but make the film much richer on repeat viewings.This film is not without its flaws however. It does drag a bit in the middle. And there is way, way to much of Peter Sellers. Kubrick was such a meticulous director with his shot and his sets and especially his actors. But for whatever reason, he gave Sellers way to much leeway. Now this did work in Dr. Strangelove, where Sellers had to play all these different characters, but here, where he just plays the character Clare Quilty, all these different voices and mannerisms he keeps using, it's just distracting. And a little annoying. Kurbrick definitely should have rained Sellers in.Besides those few flaws, this film is truly a classic. It deserves to be ranked right alongside all of Kubrick's other classic films. It's the kind of film, where one scene your laughing, the next scene your skin is crawling.That's the power of Lolita
I watched this for the first time recently. I can't say I'd ever had the desire to watch it previously but from the first scene it draws you in and you want to know what happens. It's a long film and at time it seems a little too slow moving at times but a first rate cast make this a must watch film. James Mason is simply outstanding as Professor Humbert who quickly becomes infatuated with Shelly Winters young teenage daughter Lolita. Sue Lyon is superb as the young temptress Lolita and it's a surprise she didn't go onto better things. There is a typically surreal but nonetheless impressive performance by Peter Sellers as Clare Quilty. Although this tackles paedophilia it's done in a very understated way with everything very much implied rather than shown. This if anything adds rather than takes away from the films effect. This is rightfully classed as a classic being beautifully filmed, scripted and acted. A must watch for anyone with an interest in movies.
This movie at the time had too many restrictions on sexuality in movies. There us no nudity in this movie at all. There is no sexuality being shown in the movie. What a waste of a good premise for a story. Nothing steamy about this movie. Better off watching Leon The Professional or Pretty Baby.It is beyond me how this movie even got a rated R for this film. More like PG-13 at best.The story line at the end makes no sense.They should have added colour to the movie as well so the viewer wont be so bored. I do not recommend this movie at all.Honeztly the movie was just very boring and poorly done.