LOLITA (1962) B/W widescreen 154m dir: Stanley Kubrick
w/James Mason, Sue Lyon, Shelley Winters, Peter Sellers, Marianne Stone, Diana Decker, Jerry Stovin, Gary Cockrell, Suzanne Gibbs, Roberta Shore
From The Movie Guide: "A fascinating if problematic early film from Stanley Kubrick, perhaps the most obsessive of the great auteurs of the 1960s, made just on the cusp of a run of cinematic masterpieces [DR. STRANGELOVE, 2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY, A CLOCKWORK ORANGE]. Here Vladimir Nabokov adapts his own controversial satirical novel about the obsessive love a British middle aged professor develops for a 12-year-old girl. While the novel outraged many bluenoses, the film advances the age of the 'nymphet' to about 15 thereby neutralizing much of the controversy. It's quite long --- too long --- possibly as a result of having Nabokov do his own screen adaptation. Nabokov's novels are so intensely concerned with language that one would expect that they would be particularly difficult to translate to the screen. LOLITA, a great grey comedy of the 1950s, succeeds in carefully setting up and knocking down the shibboleths of the silent generation.
"James Mason is the smitten professor, Humbert Humbert, in love with the American girl, Lolita (Sue Lyon). Shelley Winters is the vulgar mother with misguided intellectual aspirations who is attracted to Humbert. The ever-resourceful Peter Sellers, with a great American accent and a succession of disguises, is a standout as Quilty. The scene in which he explains himself to Mason is a small masterpiece of the acting art. Mason and Winters are less showy but equally impressive while the young Lyons, sadly, is only barely adequate.
"The film is not particularly shocking or titillating; the most erotic scene in the film is a pedicure. Kubrick exhibited great subtlety (he had to, or they'd have given this one a hard time in the theaters) --- perhaps too much subtlety."
LOLITA was nominated for an Oscar for Best Adapted Screenplay (Nabokov).