Made for $1.9 million, Lolita
grossed $4.5 million in 1962, making it the
year's 12th highest grossing film. U.S. video rentals have reached $3.7
The money with which Kubrick paid for the rights to Lolita
came from his
director's fee for Paths of Glory
(1957) and compensation for six months he
and Calder Willingham had spent working on the script for One-Eyed Jacks
(1961) before Marlon Brando decided to direct the film himself.
Stanley Kubrick prepared for Lolita
while shooting Spartacus
Spain. Brought in at the last minute to replace Anthony Mann, Kubrick was primarily
a director for hire on the film, supervising the actors and setting up shots but
forced to follow Dalton Trumbo's screenplay closely. He dealt with the frustration
of working that way by developing the supposedly unfilmable novel for the
Kubrick suggested that Shelley Winters read the novel before meeting with Vladimir
Nabokov to earn his approval for the role of Charlotte. At the time, she was
campaigning for future president John F. Kennedy. When Kennedy noticed what she was
reading on the platform, he suggested she use a brown-paper cover so as not to
jeopardize his election chances.
When he was considering buying the novel's rights, Kubrick asked the Production Code
Administration if they would be more open to a film version if it were revealed at
the end that Humbert and Lolita had married in a state with a lower age of consent.
When they agreed, he went ahead with the purchase.
Kubrick also approached John Trevelyan, head of the British Board of Film Censors,
for advice on how to beat the book's censorship problems. He suggested that it
might work "if it had the mood of Greek tragedy."
When Humbert Humbert asks Clare Quilty who he is at the film's opening, Peter
Sellers wraps himself in a bed sheet and says, "...I'm Spartacus, have you come to
free the slaves or something?" The line is a reference to Kubrick's previous
Sue Lyon's famous heart-shaped sunglasses only appear in the film's poster and
publicity shots. On screen, she wore cat's-eye glasses.
Vladimir Nabokov originally planned to make a cameo appearance in the film holding a
butterfly net. In real life, he is a noted collector and has included butterfly
collecting in some of his books.
With the success of Lolita
, Nabokov was offered the chance to adapt Nathanael
West's The Day of the Locust
to the screen, but he couldn't see a way for it
to be successfully adapted. The screen version eventually was written by Waldo
Memorable Quotes from LOLITA
"I'm not accusing you, Captain, but it's sort of absurd the way people invade this
house without even knocking." -- Peter Sellers, as Clare Quilty, dealing with the
intrusion of James Mason, as Humbert Humbert.
"Quilty, I want you to concentrate -- you're going to die. Try to understand what
is happening to you." -- Mason, as Humbert Humbert, preparing to shoot Sellers, as
"Oh M'sieur, if what you're needing is peace and quiet, I can assure you you
couldn't get more peace anywhere." -- Shelley Winters, as Charlotte Haze, showing
her home to Mason, as Humbert.
"You know, Monsieur, I really believe that it's only in the romance languages that,
uh, one is able to really relate in a mature fashion." -- Winters, as Charlotte
Haze, trying to impress Mason.
"My flowers win prizes around here! They're the talk of the neighborhood. Voila!...
My yellow roses. My - daughter....I could offer you a comfortable home, a sunny
garden, a congenial atmosphere, my cherry pies." -- Winters, as Charlotte, trying to
clinch the deal.
"What was the decisive factor? Uh, my garden?"
"It think it was your cherry pies." -- Winters asking Mason why he chose her
"You're going to take my Queen!"
"That is my intention." -- Winters and Mason playing chess as Sue Lyon, as Lolita
Haze, wanders into view.
"Lolita. Diminutive of Dolores, 'The Tears and the Roses.'" -- Sellers, as
"Wednesday she's having a cavity filled by your Uncle Ivor."
"I know, he's a wicked old man." -- Winters and Sellers, in an exchange the
Production Code Administration tried to cut.
"Shouldn't life be for the living? What think you? You see, I'm a strongly emotional
woman. Very strongly emotional. Oh, don't be afraid of hurting me...Take me in your
arms! Oh, I can't live in the past, not any more Hum, not any more." -- Winters,
proposing to Mason.
"We had a wonderful evening. Your mother created a magnificent spread." -- Mason, on
his evening with Winters.
"What drives me insane is the twofold nature of this nymphet, of every nymphet
perhaps, this mixture in my Lolita of tender, dreamy childishness and a kind of
eerie vulgarity. I know it is madness to keep this journal, but it gives me a
strange thrill to do so. And only a loving wife could decipher my microscopic
script." -- Mason's narration.
"He is a writer and he is not to be disturbed."
"Seig heil!" -- Winters and Lyon, the latter as Lolita Haze, arguing over
"Hum, you just touch me and I...I...I go as limp as a noodle. It scares me."
"Yes, I know the feeling." -- Winters, trying to seduce Mason, in another exchange
"The Haze woman...the cow...the obnoxious Mama...the brainless baba...Well, the
stupid Haze is no longer your dupe....You're a monster. You're a disgusting,
despicable, loathsome...fraud. Get out of my way...I'm leaving here today. You can
have all of it. But you are never gonna see that miserable brat again!" -- Winters,
after reading Mason's diary.
"There's this man saying you've been killed, Charlotte." -- Mason to Winters' locked
door after she has been run down by a car
"CAMP CLIMAX FOR GIRLS - Drive Carefully." -- Sign at Lolita's summer camp.
"I get carried away you know, being so normal and everything. I get sorta carried
away, you know, being so normal and everything." -- Sellers, masquerading as the
"I-I learned some real good games in camp. One in particular-ly was fun." -- Lyon,
as Lolita, coming on to Mason.
"Six months have passed and Lolita is attending an excellent school where it is my
hope that she will be persuaded to read other things than comic books and movie
romances." -- Mason's narration.
"You never let me have any fun."
"No fun? You have all the fun in the world. We have fun together, don't we? Ay,
whenever you want something, I buy it for you automatically. I take you to concerts,
to museums, to movies. I do all the housework. Who does the-the tidying up? I do.
Who does the cooking? I do. You and I have lots of fun -- don't we Lolita?" -- Lyon
and Mason, having a lovers' quarrel.
"Hello. Is this Professor Humbert?...How are you Professor?...I was just wondering
if you've been enjoying your stay in our lovely little town...It doesn't matter what
my name is. It's really obscure - an unremarkable name....my department, you see, is
sorta concerned with the bizarre rumors that have been circulating about you and
that lovely, remarkable girl you've been traveling around with...with all this
traveling around you do, you don't get much time to see a psychiatrist regularly, is
that right?...You are classified in our files, professor, you are classified in our
files as a white widowed male. I wonder if you'd be prepared to give our
investigator a report, Professor, on your, uh, current sex life, if any...!" --
Sellers, tormenting Mason with an anonymous phone call.
"How's everything? I have gone through much sadness and hardship. I'm married. I'm
going to have a baby. I'm going nuts because we don't have enough to pay our debts
and get out of here. Please send us a check." -- Lyon's letter to Mason, years
after deserting him.
"Well, congratulations. I don't suppose it ever occurred to you that when you moved
into our house, my whole world didn't revolve around you. You see, I'd had a crush
on him ever since the times that he used to come and visit mother. He wasn't like
you and me. He wasn't a normal person. He was a genius. He had a kind of, uh,
beautiful, Japanese, Oriental philosophy of life." -- Lyon, explaining that Sellers
was her true love.
"I want you to live with me and die with me, and EVERYTHING with me." -- Mason,
making one final effort to win Lyon back.
"Humbert Humbert died of coronary thrombosis in prison awaiting trial for the murder
of Clare Quilty." -- Closing title, another sop to the censors.
Compiled by Frank Miller