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Is Lolita a Film Noir?


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As i was going through the movies coming up I noticed Lolita is going to be shown on the 8th, and for a second i thought, no , this isn't noir. I checked my sources and none of them list it, but then having seen the movie it actually resembles a film noir in many aspects.

 

Crime, you bet.

Murder, I think so.

A man starts out sane and goes insane.

Lust, ahem, I think so.

Feme fatale, a young one.

Crazy characters, I think the nutty Quilty hits that button.

Suspense and panic, lots of it.

 

This movie is more Noir to me than some of the ones listed as Noir, with the exception of the total lighting perhaps (some parts i remember being shadowy but have to watch again). Strangely not even one mention as Noir as I see it, but maybe one that slipped through the radar?

 

Anyone else see this as a possible closet noir?

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MovieMadness, I really like *Lolita* (the original, of course),. It's funny, it's sad, James Mason is despicable and yet somehow sympathetic, Shelly Winters is good( that poor woman, always cast as someone who craves love and maybe a little sex, who marries a man who isn't in the least interested in her, only marries her to gain access to something he does want -see *Night of the Hunter*, probably others. But I digress.) And Sue Lyons is a perfect Lolita, what ever happened to her, what did she do after that film?

I'm not crazy about the Peter Sellers role - I like this actor, but his character seems forced in *Lolita*, I don't mean Sellers' performance ( which is always charmingly over-the-top anyway) I mean the presence, the existance, of his character seems like it's from another movie or something. I know that his character was also in Nabokov's novel, but not so prevalent, so "in your face". It throws the balance of the movie, somehow.

 

Anyway, having said all that, I do not think of *Lolita* as a film noir. Yes, it does have all those elements you listed, I can't argue with that. It is, as so many have said, an indefinable thing, I suppose. It just doesn't feel in any way like a noir to me. It's not that it's in colour, or that it's made in the 60s ( lots of movies I'd consider noir have those factors.) Ok, I just checked - it's not in colour, wonder why I thought it was? I always think of this film as being in colour ( and I have not seen the remake, so that can't be it.)

 

 

The only noir I can think of offhand that Stanley Kubrick made was *Killer's Kiss*, which is very noirish. Undeservedly obscure and under-rated. But as to *Lolita*, a great although flawed film, but somehow the sum of the admittedly present noir elements add up to less than their parts.

 

 

ps- I love the music in *Lolita*, that silly "la la" tune that's played whenever Sue Lyons appears.

 

 

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Funny this thread should pop up, I just was going through a year by year production list of films between 1960 and 1966 (as far as I got) to list films that I though would fit under the sobriquet "Near Noir" on that thread that I started and *Lolita* was one I had that gut feeling about and listed it for consideration ;-)

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misswonderly I think you are right based on the total lack of acceptance of this film, I have seen some movies listed as noir that aren't even close to this one on the elements and that are raved about as noir (and ones I would say aren't enough).

 

I think Quilty is not explained well because probably he can't be ( He is the Rosebud of *Citizen Kane*), at least he was having an "affair" with Lolita and madly following her, sort of the outsider looking in. Lolita was playing both him and James Mason which James Mason never figured out until she was gone.

 

So in a way both Quilty and James Mason play the exact opposites towards the end, Mason very reserved and nervous, Quilty very free and out there but both with the same drive.

 

 

And Lolita drove these two guys mad, both old enough to know better (haha).

 

 

To me this movie *might be* a sexual noir, a rare film that doesn't fit with nearly all of the others. Quilty adds some craziness to keep it entertaining but the feme fatale is there and destroys them both. I think Sue Lyons was amazing in this, one of the top performances. it also has that white-collar crime feel to it, so no police around to muddy things up. This movie has nothing involving money or the need for money, only love and lust and madness.

 

 

PS I am going on memory so have to watch it again as I said, and I see Sue Lyons was in *the Flim Flam Man*, another movie i like and wished they played some day.

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In a word, nyet. I'd say it's a not bad adaptation of a superb,

stylishly well-written comic novel that also shines a gimlet eye

on the America of the post-war years through the eyes of a

pan-European emigre. It's no wonder that the movie could never

replicate the wonder of the book, though for this kind of thing,

it's all right. But even leaving that aside, I don't consider it much

of a noir. But these things are highly subjective, so if somebody

thinks it is one, that's okay too.

 

 

Don't forget Kubrick's The Killing, with, among other things, the

Elisha Cook, Jr., Marie Windsor true love story.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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I also caught Lolita, a couple of days ago and its definitely not hard core Noir, it does have some story characteristics, so there is something there, but the physical (lighting and style) aren't emphasized quite enough and its a black comedy, so for me its even a borderline Near Noir.

 

Sue Lyons is a definite jeune-femme fatale for both Quilty & Humbert, but you can see how, in this film, the end of the Hayes Code and also the country's culture had shifted enough to not have a decisive Black & White ending. If it could have been even made in the 40's & 50's all of them would be dead at the end, lol, and Lolita probably either of the ravages syphliss or burnned alive in a car wreck, good riddance to bad rubbish.

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