Almost all Kubrick's movies are adaptations, and this is the one time he bit off more than he could chew. The last few pages of the novel are among the most beautiful I ever read; its screen equivalent is out of steam. But he did create a movie of his own: the sickest screwball comedy, a hilarious battle of refined ego and repulsive id, and one of those films that bridges Old Hollywood and the free-for-all to come.
Kubrick's Lolita is a brilliant satire of the underlining depravity that overtook an american society drunk on postwar optimism. The 50s were a beautiful illusion, selling expansion, a booming economy, white picket fences and the american dream. In that regard, Professor Humbert mirrors the deception with acidic accuracy: the erudite and sophisticated upper classer harboring a terrible desire. Humbert still exists.
In all honesty, a bit of a mess. Were it placed before PoG and Spartacus in Kubrick's filmography, it may have chimed better, but it's a backward step: the leads (Sue Lyon aside) are terribly miscast, and for a control freak it's interesting that Kubrick essentially lets Sellers ruin his picture - only subsequently would their respective geniuses gel. The result is weak, compromised and Kubrick's worst 'major' film.
More like Whore-ita! I watched this on blu-ray, on a decent television, and still wasn't able to get excited or engaged with the story. It was just a huge dud, neither funny or sexy enough to keep a nice rhythm during its (long) running time. The first time I actually got bored watching a Stanley Kubrick film.
It wasn't proper to give Peter Sellers' Quilty such protagonism. despite that flaw, Nabokov's screenplay (though drastically changed) and Kubrick's direction are correct, some passages are quite lighthearted in contrast to the serious subject matter. Shelly Winters is a lot of fun; Sue Lyon shines as Lolita; and James Mason, well, there wasn't a gesture or word that could escape from that magnificent performer.
Entertaining for the most part (the first hour the tightest) but a rather neutered and sanitised adaptation. The long takes allow the performances to breathe a little but it's far too long especially when it's all hints and insinuations for two and half hours.