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LOLITA, 1962
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  MOVIE POSTERLOLITA, 1962
Movie Reviews

Director: Stanley Kubrick

Stars: James Mason, Sue Lyon, Shelley Winters and Peter Sellers

Review by Russell Hill

SYNOPSIS:

A middle-aged man becomes obsessed with a teenage girl.

REVIEW:

Based on Vladimir Nabokov's novel, Lolita is still a powerful film fifty years after its release. I'm not sure whether it was due to this film or Nabokov's novel but a considerable number of other movies have been released since the 1960's which focus around a man falling in love with a teenage girl i.e. The Crush (1993). Either way, it's a fascinating film.

An English professor, Humbert (Mason) is looking for a place to stay. Charlotte Haze (Winters) has a room to rent and tries to get Humbert to stay with her. Humbert is convinced that he must stay in Charlotte's house after seeing her young daughter Dolores (Lyon). Also sharing Charlotte's house with Clare Quilty (Sellers), Humbert is infatuated with the youngster. Will he ever succumb to his feelings?

James Mason is spectacular as Humbert. A respected actor, it must have been one hell of a decision to take on such a role. Although Kubrick had directed Spartacus just two years before, Lolita's subject matter must have troubled Mason. However, what Mason succeeds in doing is that he convinces the audience that his infatuation with a child is what he truly wants and will do anything to have her only a talented actor could execute such a delivery.

For someone who was very young, Lyon acts beyond her years. To act and behave like an adult on screen must be very difficult and Lyon excels. She could have objected to a role such as this but, thanks to her perseverance, handles herself very well against Mason's disturbing character. Sellers is also remarkable. Kubrick gave him the opportunity to play several identities and Sellers is in his element. Impersonating a range of characters, it demonstrated Sellers' ability to be whoever he wanted and paved the way for future roles, such as Dr Strangelove in the following year which Kubrick also directed.

Paedophilia has not been tackled much in cinema and, when it does, it is heavily cut by censors. The Woodsman (2004) is the exact opposite because much of the footage stayed in the final cut. However, the world was a different place in the 1960's and, although paedophilia was not in the media as much as it is now, Lolita was cut considerably. If the subject matter is put aside for one moment, Lolita is a fascinating film. A cat-and-mouse storyline, I won't discuss its conclusion but it's worth sticking around for.

Although its subject matter is not easy to stomach, the performances from all involved are remarkable and it isn't surprising that Lolita is considered as being one of Kubrick's greatest films.

ACTORStanley Kubrick
Best of the ARTIST
ACTORJames Mason
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ACTORShelley Winters
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ACTORSue Lyon
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ACTORLois Maxwell
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ACTORShirley Douglas
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ACTORGary Cockrell
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ACTORJerry Stovin
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LOLITA, 1962