With the clout of a roadshow picture under his belt, Kubrick turned to a far riskier project for his follow-up to Spartacus. In adapting Vladimir Nabokov’s controversial novel, lasciviously narrated by sophisticate Humbert Humbert, Kubrick hired the book’s author to pen the screenplay. But after Nabokov turned in a tome more than four hundred pages long, Kubrick and his producer James B. Harris radically edited it down to suit a major motion picture, and, in the process, honed in on the source material’s blackest humor. James Mason stars as Humbert, who hides his dark and twisted desires behind the façade of a suave European academic, made all the more palpable by Mason’s velvety baritone and pomaded elegance. Humbert insinuates himself into the life of fourteen-year-old Lolita (Sue Lyon, whose only prior credit of note was as “Miss Smile” for the Los Angeles County Dental Association). First, he’s a lodger in her home though subsequently he becomes her stepfather after marrying her lovesick mother (Shelley Winters). But it’s not long before Humbert and his self-centered nymphet embark on a cross-country car trip closely shadowed by the ominous, chameleon-like Clare Quilty (Peter Sellers). A visually rich adaptation of a novel that many felt could not be filmed, Kubrick’s Lolita is rendered with the sheen and polish of classic Hollywood. Lolita marks a major turning point for Kubrick. Due to the book’s incendiary content, financing for the film had to be secured abroad through a British production company; this arrangement meant the film was predominately shot in England, where Kubrick would subsequently settle down both personally and professionally.
“A simple, lucid film, precisely written, which reveals America and American sex better than Melville.”—Jean-Luc Godard.
Make a night of it! Learn more about the pop-up dinner before the screening and make a reservation.
Bing Theater | $10 for the general public; $7 for LACMA members, seniors (62+), and students with valid ID; $5 LACMA Film Club members and Academy members with valid ID. | Tickets: 323 857-6010 or purchase online.