How Did They Ever Make a Movie of “Lolita”?


Review by Trylon volunteer Amy Neeser.

Lolita is perhaps the best known, but not often talked about, film in the “Underrated Stanley Kubrick” series, as it comes with a lot of baggage. This was a tough one, even for the great Kubrick–not only is it an adaptation of Vladimir Nabokov’s novel (which is considered one of the twentieth century’s great works of fiction), but the story is about a romantic relationship between a middle aged man and a twelve-year-old girl, a controversial topic even by today’s standards.

The story is told by the slowly unraveling Humbert Humbert (James Mason), a professor who becomes obsessed with young Lolita (Sue Lyon). He marries Lolita’s mother Charlotte (Shelley Winters) in order to get close to Lolita, but is eventually foiled by the many faces of Clare Quilty (Peter Sellers).

Kubrick had to make a lot of concessions to get this film approved, including casting an older actress to play Lolita (who was disallowed from attending the film premiere because she was underage at 14) and filming outside of Hollywood in London. Despite having to cut lines and shorten the seduction scene, Kubrick managed to do justice to the original masterpiece by capturing Nabokov’s dry and twisted wit with interesting cuts and clever use of double entendres.

Amy Neeser is a scientific research librarian at the University of Minnesota. She has a background in film and specializes in New German Cinema, animation, and representations of the apocalypse. 

Lolita screens at the Trylon microcinema Friday and Saturday, one show only, at 7:00, with two shows on Sunday at 5:00 and 8:00. Purchase tickets here.

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