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Lolita

Year: 1962
Director: Stanley Kubrick
Writer: Vladimir Nabakov
Cast: James Mason, Shelley Winters, Sue Lyon, Lois Maxwell
I saw the Adrian Lyne remake of this film first, and was expecting Kubrick's version to be much tamer, coming out as it did in the 1960s.

But I realised the point wasn't the titillation or the themes of pedophilia, it was a simple story of obsessive lust and the collision between parental and romantic love, and that doesn't have to be told by showing any kind of sexual activity or innuendo.

Lucky for Kubrick, too - he apparently copped enough flack over the film as it was (as much as Nabakov did the novel) - and there was even talk of making Lolita older just to make it more palatable to audiences.

But Kubrick was never one to fold before studios or back off for the sake of manners. In some of his best films (this one included) he was a satirist.

Humbert Humbert (where on earth did Nabakov come up with such a stupid name?) takes a room in a boarding house before a secondment to a local smalltown American college and falls desperately in lust with the daughter (13 in the novel) of the landlady's daughter.

Marrying the woman to get close to the girl, fate deals his a fortunate blow when she kills herself, grief-stricken after reading the truth in his diary.

Humbert takes Lolita across the country, trying to have a normal relationship as man and wife when everybody assumes they're father and daughter and his jealousy and possessiveness seems to drive him slowly insane. And all the while the mysterious and sleazy Clare Quilty (Sellers in the best performance I've seen him give) follows them to steal Lolita for himself.

It's surprisingly mature for such an old movie. in anyone else's hands it might have contained the Hollywood flourishes particular to many black and white movies, but it's contemporary enough you forget its age.

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