On June 13, 1962, Russian born Vladimir Nabokov had his famous and controversial novel “Lolita” published in Paris, France. Hollywood director Stanley Kubrick bought the film rights to the book. “Lolita” which was all about a middle-aged man named Humbert who had a strange fondness for young girls who he called “nymphets”. He preferred one girl particularly Dolores Haze or Lolita.
Kubrick found it very hard to choose from child stars for the leading role of Lolita. Some of his choices were Tuesday Weld and Hayley Mills. Finally, he chose Sue Lyon who was 14 years old and had appeared on TV. This was to be her big-screen debut. Since the Lolita in the novel had been only 12 Kubrick made her older in the movie.
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The role of Humbert went to James Mason. The movie posters created quite a stir with Sue Lyon as Lolita in heart-shaped sunglasses wearing a seductive expression and a lollypop in her mouth. I remember that afterward, these kinds of sunglasses sold like hotcakes. At the time I was only five and my mom wasn’t about to buy me such sunglasses but little girls liked wearing them.
You can take a look at some scenes from both the 1962
and the 1997 movie versions of “Lolita”
The movie received mixed reviews and wasn’t one of those incredibly popular movies. However, it did earn an Academy Award nomination for Best Adapted Screenplay. Kubrick lamented that the movie hadn’t done well because of heavy censorship considering that a middle-aged man lusted after a teenage girl.
Hollywood tried again in 1997 making another “Lolita” directed by Adrian Lyne. This one starred Jeremy Irons and another newcomer to the industry 15-year-old Dominique Swain. This one also bombed at the box office but was considered a better version than Kubrick’s had been.