" How could they make a film of Lolita" This was on everyones lips in 1961 when it was announced that Stanley Kubrick was to make a film out of Nabokovs infamous book which deals with paedophilia. The end result is a strange mixture of high drama and pitch black comedy that works wonderfully.
Humbert Humbert, played by James Mason, a european intelectual, arrives in Ramsdale and decides to marry his new landlady, the preening and needy Charlotte Haze, in order to to be close to her precocious teenage daughter Lolita played beautifully by newcomer Sue Lyon. Humbert falls for the daughter and without really knowing it begins to lose his identity to the lust he cannot control for Lolita. The deluded Humbert soon finds Lolita has another admirer in the form of Clare Quilty played with relish by the ever wonderful Peter Sellers.
Please don't be put off by the notion of a relationship between a man in his fifties and a teenager, Kubrick deals with this facet of the story with great subtleness and sensitivity. The story of Humberts decent into almost madness and his relationships between the Haze and Quilty characters is the most entertaining in the film. The actual scenes between him and Lolita are rather subdued and uninteresting, the Lolita character is rather vacuous and has little to say, and when she does say something it is of little consequence.
At 147 minutes it's quite a long film but it never really flags because, Winters, Sellers, and Mason are all superb and when they are on screen you really do want to know what happens next. It's a tribute to Kubrick that he was able to create a film with such a subject without it being uncomfortable or difficult to watch. What you will remember are the wonderful performances that will stay with you after the film has finished.