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April 25, 2020:

A TALE OF TWO LOLITAS AND OTHER DIVERTING DIVERSIONS

Bruce Kimmel Photograph bk's notes

Well, dear readers, let’s just get to the best thing first, shall we?  I think we shall because why shouldn’t we start off these here notes with the best thing first?  I went to the mail place and found this waiting for me.

As I’ve told you before, there is no thrill as thrilling as holding the first copy of your very own book.  It never gets old, which is more than I can say for myself.  Myself definitely gets old.  This was the softcover version.  I thought they might have shipped both together, but alas they did not. I wrote my gal at the publisher to tell her how great it looked and she, too, was surprised they hadn’t shipped together.  She hopes the hardcover will be here by Monday, which would be nice, because neither she nor I or comfortable placing my order before I see it.  It’s a nice, hefty tome at 531 pages.  Yes, it has heft. In other words, it is not bereft of heft, the heft is real.  So, that was the best thing first.

Yesterday was actually a pretty okay day as pretty okay days go.  I only got five hours of sleep – allergy attack at around eight-thirty and since I had a rehearsal scheduled at eleven there was no point in even trying to go back to sleep.  The rehearsal at eleven was with Kerry O’Malley.  She ran two of her three songs (we hadn’t quite finished the track of the third, so we’ll have another quick session) and sounds great and her great hubby Karl even made backgrounds for her to sing against, one of them actually being the stage at Vitello’s.  So, we have a little production value.

All the tracks but two have gone out and those two will definitely go out today and that part of this will be done.  Then we’ll schedule the rehearsals, some of which I’m hoping we can do today and tomorrow, but we’ll have to see.  We’re still figuring out the details of how best to get this on Facebook so the most see it and know where to go if it doesn’t pop up on their screen.  One option is to do an event page and invite people via that.  But I think it will end up being a combo platter of everything we can think of.  We did a few tests today and everything seems like it will be fine and dandy as well as dandy and fine.

After all that, I ordered from Jersey Mike’s – one sandwich for lunch, one for dinner, and the two added together are probably around 1200 calories, which is fine.  I ordered the same two sandwiches as last time, the regular size Philly cheesesteak (lunch) and the turkey and provolone (dinner).  It arrived about thirty minutes later.  The Philly cheesesteak sandwich wasn’t as good as the last time and later, when I ate the turkey, that wasn’t as good either.  I guess it really depends on who is making the sandwich.

Then we did all this testing stuff, I had some telephonic conversations, caught up on e-mails, and then I finally sat on my couch like so much fish.

Last night, I finished watching Stanley Kubrick’s film of Lolita.  I have to say, it, along with The Killing, have become my favorite Kubrick films.  I’ve always loved the film of Lolita, although I didn’t see it when it came out in 1962, for reasons I can’t fathom, unless they weren’t allowing fourteen-year-old kids into the theater.  Sue Lyon was fourteen when she made the film.  In the novel, Lolita is twelve-and-a-half and of course the censor folks at the time would not allow that.  Kubrick, in fact, couldn’t really be blatant about anything erotic, and yet it manages to come through just through innuendo and clever writing.  The tag line for the poster and ads was, “How did they ever make a movie of Lolita?”  James Mason give his greatest performance in this film – it’s a master class in film acting, and he’s not only wonderfully dramatic, but has incredible comic timing, especially in the scenes with Shelly Winters, who is absolute perfection as Lolita’s gauche mother.  The biggest change from novel to film is the character of Clare Quilty, who isn’t in the novel all that much until the reveal of how he fit into everything at the end.  Here, Kubrick made the decision to open the film with the book’s final scene, and it was kind of a stroke of genius, because it somehow sets the tone for everything.  And Peter Sellers is brilliant and was allowed to do a lot of stuff with the character.  There’s no show-off direction, but you couldn’t imagine a better directed movie.  It’s funny, it’s outrageous, and its very touching at times, especially as Mason deteriorates in the last twenty minutes.  The film runs 153 minutes and never feels like it.  The pacing is simply perfection.  And that first shot of Sue Lyon is still one of the most iconic images in all of cinema.

After that, I thought it would be fun to go directly to the Adrian Lyne version from the 1990s.  Now, you can’t really compare Kubrick and Lyne because one of them was a genius and one wasn’t.  Lyne is all about pretty shots and light streaming through windows, which was tiresome in the 1980s and should have been done by the time this film was made in 1997.  Lyne’s film is closer to the novel in structure, beginning with Humbert’s past, which Kubrick’s film has none of. Jeremy Irons is 1000% different than Mason, but really great.  Dominique Swain, who was, in fact, a year older than Sue Lyon when she made the film, looks younger but is still a far cry from the twelve-and-a-half-year-old from the book.  But there was no way any movie was going to do that.  She’s very good in the film, too.  Melanie Griffith as her mom doesn’t really do much with the part, so that when she reads Humbert’s description of her it doesn’t really make sense.  With Winters, it made complete sense.  The film is twenty minutes shorter than the Kubrick but seems twenty minutes longer because Lyne’s pacing is just too lax.  And he’s so weird with his fetishistic close-ups of objects, which happen about every three minutes.  Some of the erotic aspects are obviously played in a way Kubrick couldn’t, but some just seem crass for no reason.  There are also a few anachronistic lines like “out of your gourd” which I don’t think was an expression in 1947, when the film takes place.  And then there’s Frank Langella as Quilty – he’s just plain weird.  As in the book, he makes only a few appearances before the final scene with he and Humbert.  The score by Ennio Morricone is lovely.  But the movie completely is humorless and misses that aspect of the novel, whereas the Kubrick film gets that just right.

Well, we’ve had a tale of two Lolitas, haven’t we?  After that, I took a quick drive around the neighborhood, then came home and listened to music, including Nelson Riddle’s score to Kubrick’s Lolita.  I also read through the commentary, which I’d finished earlier in the day, and made some changes to it and it seems fine to me now.

Today, I’ll be up when I’m up, I’ll do whatever needs doing, I’ll hopefully pick up some packages, I’ll eat, probably here, rustling up something or other, and we’ll hopefully have some rehearsals and we’ll continue to figure out how best to make this as easy as possible for people to find.  Then I’ll watch, listen, and relax.

Tomorrow will hopefully have some rehearsals, then it’s just more of the same as we keep doing our tests, our rehearsals, and then gearing up for the big Sunday shew.

Well, dear, readers, I must take the day, I must do the things I do, I must, for example, be up when I’m up, do whatever needs doing, hopefully pick up some packages, eat, have rehearsals, and then watch, listen, and relax.  Today’s topic of discussion: What are your favorite films of Mr. James Mason and Miss Shelly Winters?  Let’s have loads of lovely postings, shall we, whilst I hit the road to dreamland, having told the tale of two Lolitas and having received the first copy of my new book.

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