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 pursue the woman's 14-year-old flirtatious daughter, Lolita, with whom he has fallen hopelessly in love, but whose affections shall be thwarted by a devious trickster named Clare Quilty. Written by
Not the two words that came to mind when I first read the book. This movie nicely handles the taboo subject matter and is tremendously funny as well. Peter Sellers was warming up for his triumph in Dr. Strangelove, Shelly Winters gave her best performance, and James Mason made us feel his pain. As Lolita, Sue Lyon is convincing although Kubrick makes her character a bit older (probably to satisfy the censors, which still slapped this with an X rating originally, much to my surprise). The movie could play on TV today with no edits. I have not seen the 1997 remake but can only imagine, given its director with a reputation of going over the top, that it's not as classy and tasteful as this one. Since this was made in 1962, the risque elements from the book were left to our imagination. And the movie scores highly because of it. The movie's story is stuck in the '60s (that bubblegum music, which played during Lolita's early scenes, will stick with you), and if you are bored with the story, or cannot believe what you're seeing, you can always get a culture lesson: Hula hoops, malt shops, pseudo intellectuals, faulty cots and gas stations where they still pump your gas.
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