Always open to exploring the options for playing a scene, Kubrick encouraged Peter Sellers to improvise in front of the camera for Lolita
. Eventually, they built up the role of Quilty, adding the various disguises he uses to stalk Humbert and Lolita.
Kubrick shot most of Sellers' scenes with two or three cameras at once. The actor did his most inspired work on the first take, so Kubrick used that technique to get all the angles he needed without losing spontaneity.
One of Sellers' additions to the film was the ping pong game between Quilty and Humbert that precedes the murder.
During the filming of Lolita
, Mason realized that Sellers was stealing the film. He confided in friends that he should have insisted on playing Quilty himself.
Originally, Kubrick asked Bernard Herrmann to score the film. By that time, however, the director had decided to include Bob Harris' "Theme From Lolita
" on the soundtrack, and Herrmann refused to incorporate it within his score. Instead, Nelson Riddle scored the film.
Lyon loved horseback riding and refused to give it up during the filming of Lolita
. Instead, Kubrick warned her "If you get thrown, roll over. Don't hurt your face."
The film Humbert, Charlotte and Lolita watch at the drive-in is The Curse of Frankenstein
(1957), Hammer Films' reinvention of the classic Hollywood monster movie, starring Peter Cushing and Christopher Lee. When the film cut to the three characters in the car, Kubrick had a different soundtrack recorded to make the film sound scarier.
The Production Code Administration passed the film with a few snips on the soundtrack and an early fade to the scene in which Lolita seduces Humbert after her mother's death. The British and Australian prints contain the scene as originally shot.
The Legion of Decency agreed to pass Lolita
as long as children under 18 were barred from seeing the film.
Kubrick held a special screening for Vladimir Nabokov a few days before the film's premiere. That was the first time the author learned that most of his screenplay had been jettisoned, but he reported himself very happy with the picture, praising Kubrick and the cast.
premiered June 13, 1962, at the Loew's State in New York. At the time, Sue Lyon was still too young to legally see the film.
Capitalizing on the controversy surrounding the novel, MGM sold the film with the tag line "How did they ever make a movie out of Lolita
by Frank Miller