Filmsite Movie Review
Lolita (1962)
Pages: (1) (2) (3) (4) (5) (6)
Plot Synopsis (continued)

In a billowing bathrobe, an insecure, nagging, cloying, and jealous Charlotte comes searching for Humbert. She discovers that he has locked himself in the bathroom, where he scribbles in his diary about the wedding. Possessive of his personal thoughts and behaviors, she solicits him to open up the door to her and questions him about his pre-marital love life:

Charlotte: Dear, the door is locked. Sweetheart, I don't want any secrets between us. It makes me feel insecure.
Humbert: Can't this wait 'til I come out of here?
Charlotte: I suppose. Hum, what do you do in there so long? I want to talk to you.
Humbert: I haven't been here long. In point of fact, I only just came in.
Charlotte: Were there a lot of women in your life before me?
Humbert: I've told you about them already.
Charlotte: Well, you didn't tell me about all of them.
Humbert: Charlotte, if it would make you any happier, I will sit right down and I will make out a complete list of every woman I have ever known. Will that satisfy you?
Charlotte: (groaning off-key in a miserable way) Ohh, I'm lonesome...I think it's healthy for me to be jealous. It means that I love you. You know how happy I can make you. (He answers her with a low-toned acknowledgment)

She bursts in on him after he has escaped from the bathroom and attempted to return the diary to his desk in the study (his lodger's bedroom).

Charlotte: (proclaiming dramatically for the most effect) Darling, I don't care about any other woman. I know that our love is sacred. The others were profane. (She hugs him)
Humbert: Yeah, sacred. That's right. That's what it is, hmmm.
Charlotte: Oh Hum, hum-baby, you know, I love the way you smell. (They return to the bedroom) You do arouse the pagan in me. Hum, you just touch me, and I-I go as limp as a noodle. It scares me.
Humbert: Yes, I know the feeling.
Charlotte: Do you believe in God?
Humbert: The question is, 'does God believe in me?'

[Humbert's line: "Yes, I know the feeling" about going limp after being touched was intended as a dirty joke, and caused some concern with the Production Code.] She reaches into the dresser beneath the urn in their bedroom and shows him her dead husband's black pistol, mentioning: "But if I ever found out that you didn't believe in God, I think I would commit suicide." Assuring Humbert that it isn't loaded, she fondles the phallic-like object, whining unhappily: "This is a Sacred Weapon, it's a tragic treasure. Mr. Haze purchased it when he found out he was ill. He wanted to spare me the sight of his suffering. Happily or unhappily, he, he was hospitalized before he could use it." He embraces and kisses her on the bed - they roll over and Humbert looks adoringly over his wife's shoulder at a framed, bedside photograph of Lolita smiling back - his fantasy love-object:

Charlotte: (confiding) Darling, you know, I have a most ambitious fantasy.
Humbert: What's yours?
Charlotte: (looking upward and fantasizing) I would love to get hold of a real French servant girl (Humbert looks again at the photo), you know...and have her come live in the house...We could put her in Lo's room. I've been meanin' to make a guest room out of that hole, anyway.
Humbert: And where, pray, will you put your daughter, when you get your guest or your maid?
Charlotte: You know, I've decided to send her straight from camp to a good boarding school, you know, with strict religious training, and then on to college. It's going to be you and me, alone forever.

Charlotte's designs on her daughter's life sound like a death knell for Humbert - he looks over at the distant, out of reach photograph again - this time with a haunted, desperate look - she senses his reaction: "Darling, you've gone away." Thunder sounds again as he rolls away from her and turns to his other side. There, he glances at the gun, entertaining a fleeting thought to kill her.

Lolita calls long-distance on the phone from camp at another inopportune time. Charlotte scolds Humbert for sending Lolita some candy without her approval, and he snaps back at his over-bearing, unwanted spouse for treating him like a lap dog:

Even in the most harmonious households such as ours, not all the decisions are taken by the female. Especially when the male partner has fulfilled his obligations beyond the line of duty. When you wanted me to spend one afternoon sun-bathing by the lake, I was glad to become the bronze, glamour boy for your sake, instead of remaining the scholar. Even there, I'd scoot along after you like an obliging little lap dog -- oh yes, I'm happy, I'm delighted to be bossed by you, but -- every game has its rules.

She tosses the phone to him and storms out of the room - Lolita has already hung up on the other end of the line. He sits on the edge of the bed with his hairy legs protruding from his silky dressing gown, drinks more whiskey straight from the bottle, and looks down the muzzle of the pistol and notices bullets in the barrel of his predecessor's weapon - it IS loaded! He opens the pistol's cylinder and accidentally drops the bullets out onto the floor while contemplating with murderous instincts how to rid himself of her and "bring about the perfect murder."

Meanwhile, Charlotte has fled to the bathroom, where the door stands slightly ajar. Hot, steaming water fills the bathtub. After stealthily advancing there, he points the gun barrel directly toward the camera into the bathroom:

She splashed in the tub, a trustful, clumsy seal. And oh, the logic of passion screamed in my ear. Now is the time, but...what d'ya know, folks? I just couldn't make myself do it! The scream grew more and more remote, and I realized the melancholy fact that neither tomorrow nor Friday nor any other day or night could I make myself put her to death.

Helplessly unable to kill her, he lowers the gun and slowly pushes the door open - but she is NOT in the bathroom. She is in his study, discovering his secret imaginary passion for Lolita, and busily prying into his diary with intense interest. She hits him with it and hisses hysterically at him, repeating what she has read:

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!

Brought back to earth from her own imaginary world, Charlotte stumbles back to her bedroom and locks herself in, while Humbert beseechingly pleads outside. Unsteadily, she holds up the diary to her husband's picture and urn and blubbers to him in a moving soliloquy. She praises Harold for his "soul of integrity" and tells him about the discovery of her own monstrous stupidity:

Harold, look what happened! I was disloyal to you. I couldn't help it, though. Seven years is a very long time. (She screams directly at the urn) Why did you go and die on me?! I didn't know anything about life. I was very young. If you hadn't died, all this wouldn't have happened. (She picks up the urn and hugs it) Oh, darling, forgive me. Forgive me. You were the soul of integrity. How did we produce such a little beast? I promise, I promise, I promise you that I'll know better next time. Next time, it's gonna be somebody you'll be very proud of.

Downstairs, Humbert mixes up a pitcher-sized drink of martinis, yelling spinned rationalizations upstairs to his distraught wife about how his diary contained "fragments of a novel" he was writing, with characters that had Charlotte's and Lolita's names. When he answers the phone, he incredulously listens to what he assumes is "a gag." He calls upstairs to Charlotte, whom he left locking herself in her bedroom: "Charlotte, there's a man on the line who says that you've been hit by a car." The windy rainstorm blows open the front door, and as he runs to shut it, he hears a wailing state police car's siren at the front of the house. Humbert arrives at the aftermath of a bizarre, random accident scene - Charlotte has been killed by running out of the house and into the path of an oncoming automobile in the street. As neighbors mill around, the driver frantically explains how it occurred. Charlotte's corpse lies on the wet road with a blanket covering her, before she can reveal his secret obsession.

Following Charlotte's death and all the obstacles to Lolita seemingly removed, Humbert is delightfully lounging and submerged in a very-full bathtub, where he sips from a martini glass that floats on the surface of the water. The 'Lolita' theme music rises throughout the farcical scene. The concerned and anxious neighbors, Jean and John Farlow, rush up the stairs and begin to burst into the bathroom - the soused Humbert pulls the tropical-fish shower curtain over for some privacy. "Broad-minded" Jean averts her eyes when she sees him bathing in the tub. Offering condolences, they encourage him to "hang on," not knowing that he isn't really in a state of shock. Jean consoles a seemingly-shocked but contented Humbert with unneeded words of comfort:

She was a wonderful person, Humbert. She was always so gay, wasn't she, John?

When they spot the pistol in the bathroom, John concludes that the widower is suicidal and nervously advises: "Now see here, old man. You mustn't think of doing anything rash." Jean pipes up with more support: "You have everything to live for, hasn't he, John?..." And then Humbert is told that Charlotte hadn't long to live anyway - she was born with only one kidney, and it was "distressed" with nephritis. Blearily, Humbert concurs with Jean's next statement:

Try to think of your poor little Lolita, all alone in the world. You must live for her sake.

The father of the driver of the car that killed Charlotte also arrives to tactlessly defend his son: "It was the pedestrian's fault, not the driver." Humbert graciously agrees without argument: "I have no quarrel with you." Impressed by Humbert's attitude, the father generously offers: "Well, I must say you're wonderfully sympathetic - in fact, you've been so generous about the whole matter, I was about to suggest that maybe you would allow me to pay the funeral expenses...That's the least I can do."

Humbert, now Lolita's official guardian, drives the Haze station wagon to pick her up from summer camp. The aptly-named camp sign welcomes him: "CAMP CLIMAX FOR GIRLS - Drive Carefully." Humbert chats with one of the few males at the camp, a smug teenaged guy named Charlie (Colin Maitland) who lives on the campgrounds and works there.

Wanting to avoid telling gum-chewing Lolita the truth about her deceased mother as they drive along the highway, Humbert explains instead that Charlotte "hasn't been feeling very well...she's sick...the doctors don't seem to know quite what the trouble is. She's been moved to a hospital in the country, near Lepingsville." They will have to "bide" their time until Charlotte gets well by going to the mountains for a while, but first, they will have to spend the night in a "comfortable hotel" in Briceland.

Humbert confesses his love for the not-so-naive Lolita:

Humbert: You know, I've missed you terribly.
Lolita: I haven't missed you. In fact, I've been revoltingly unfaithful to you.
Humbert: Oh.
Lolita: But it doesn't matter a bit, because you've stopped caring anyway.
Humbert: What makes you say I've stopped caring for you?
Lolita: Well, you haven't even kissed me yet, have you?

The roaring zoom of their car passing accentuates her forthright, come-hither line.

At the Enchanted Hunters Hotel, Quilty crosses the lobby with the unsmiling, dark-haired woman. He jokes and meaninglessly kids around with the night manager Mr. Swine (William E. Greene) about their perverse love of painful judo - it's a conversation filled with sexual innuendo:

Quilty: She's a yellow belt. I'm a green belt. That's the way nature made it. What happens is, she throws me all over the place.
Mr. Swine: She throws you all over the place?
Quilty: Yes. What she does, she gets me in a, sort of, thing called a sweeping ankle throw. She sweeps my ankles away from under me. I go down with one helluva bang.
Mr. Swine: Doesn't it hurt?
Quilty: Well, I sort of lay there in pain, but I love it. I really love it. I lay there hovering between consciousness and unconsciousness. It's really the greatest.

Humbert and Lolita enter the lobby, which Lolita immediately takes in: "Wow, this looks swank!" The sinister Quilty and the woman move to the other end of the registration desk to spy on them. Humbert converses with the desk clerk to sign in, but without a reservation during a busy convention, he willingly accepts the only room available for his planned 'seduction' - Room # 242 - "it's only got one bed." Quilty inconspicuously overhears their dilemma. To maintain an aura of propriety, Humbert asks for a folding cot or camp bed, but there are none available. When he is told that the hotel is proud to entertain the "overflow of the state police convention," [a banner ominously announces: "Annual State Police Convention"] Humbert takes a slight pause.

After they are brought to their room with the luggage, Lolita turns to Humbert and asks in a disarming tone:

Lolita: Is, uh, this it?
Humbert: You mean, uh...
Lolita: Yeah.
Humbert: Well, yes. (She drapes herself over the bed crosswise.) You see, I-I-I-I-I, I'm quite sure that they'll manage to find a cot for us. I asked them downstairs in the lobby to find a cot.
Lolita: A cot?
Humbert: Yes.
Lolita: You're crazy.
Humbert: Why, my darling?
Lolita: (Her slim legs are raised up and crossed in mid-air behind her. Humbert notices as she pushes her high heels off her feet - first with one foot, then the other.) Because, my darling, when my darling mother finds out, she's going to divorce you and strangle me.
Humbert: Yes, now look, now. (He places his hands on hers to assure her.) I have a great feeling of, um, tenderness for you. While your mother is ill, I'm responsible for your welfare. We're not rich, but while we travel, we should be obliged - we should be thrown a good deal together - two people sharing one room inevitably enter into a kind of, um, how should I say? A kind of, hmm...(He notices her kicking off her shoes.)
Lolita: (in a tired, yawning voice, yet in charge of the situation) Aren't you going to go down and see about the cot?

While she retires after having suggested that he sleep elsewhere, he wanders around the hotel lobby where Quilty and the woman spy on him and then freeze behind the comics section of a newspaper. Humbert goes outside onto a shadowy, dark terrace, where a strange, nervous, shy Quilty introduces himself as he leans on the porch's railing with his back turned. [Quilty has sensed Humbert's guilty secret and has decided to disturb him while pursuing the couple.] In a jittery voice, he offers some unsettling responses:

Quilty: Hello, heh-heh, heh-heh. Hello.
Humbert: (non-chalantly) Oh, you're addressing me?...I thought there was perhaps someone with you.
Quilty: No, I'm not really with someone. I'm with you, heh-heh. I didn't mean that as an insult. What I really meant was that, uh, I'm with the State Police, uh, here, and, uh, when I'm with them, I'm with someone, but right now, I'm on my own. I mean, I'm not with a lot of people, just you. Heh.
Humbert: Well, I wouldn't like to disturb you. I'll leave you alone if you prefer it.

Quilty replies with an ambiguous, fast-delivered, menacing, probing monologue that appears casual, but has a threatening, calculated, cold edge to it. As he intrudes further into Humbert's affairs and torments the paranoid professor with his improvised speech, his disguised prattle implies that Humbert is abnormal and suspicious. And Quilty incriminates himself - he could be a policeman, a concerned citizen, a homosexual making advances, or Humbert's foil - another nymphet-o-maniac:

No, you don't really have to go at all. I like it, you know, because, uh, I don't know what it is. I sort of get the impression that you want to leave but you don't like to leave because maybe you think I'd think it'd look suspicious, me being a policeman...You don't have to think that, because, uh, I haven't really got a suspicious mind at all. I look suspicious myself. A lot of people think I'm suspicious, especially when I stand around on street corners. One of our own boys picked me up the other week - he thought I was too suspicious standing on a street corner and everything. Tell me something, uhm, I couldn't help noticing when you checked in tonight. It's part of my job - I notice human individuals - and I noticed your face. I said to myself when I saw you - I said, 'That's a guy with the most normal-looking face I ever saw in my life'...It's great to see a normal face, because I'm a normal guy. It would be great for two normal guys like us to get together and talk about world events - you know, in a normal sort of way...May I say one other thing to you? It's really on my mind. I've been thinking about it quite a lot. I noticed when you was checking in, you had a lovely, pretty little girl with you. She was really lovely. As a matter of fact, she wasn't so little, come to think of it. She was fairly tall, what I mean, taller than little, you know what I mean. But, uh, she was really lovely. I wish I had a lovely, pretty tall, lovely little girl like that, I mean...Your daughter? Gee, isn't it great to have a lovely, tall, pretty little, small daughter like that, it's really wonderful. I don't have any children, boys or little tall girls or anything. I'm not even...Heh-heh, may I say something? I thought you was looking a little uneasy at the desk there. Maybe I was thinking that you want to get away from your wife for a little while. I don't blame you. If I was married, I'd take every opportunity to get away from my wife.

Humbert's face shows consternation, taken somewhat aback by the muddled, semi-prying, smothering nature of Quilty's innuendo-laden statements. Humbert explains that his wife may not join him, because when he left home, she had just "had an accident."

Quilty: That's really terrible. I mean, fancy a fella's wife having, a normal guy's wife having an accident like that. What happened to her?
Humbert: She was hit by a car.
Quilty: Gee, no wonder she's not here. Gee, you must feel pretty bad about that. (stuttering) What's happening? Is she coming on later or something?
Humbert: Well, that was the understanding.
Quilty: What? In an ambulance? Heh-heh. Gee, I'm sorry, I shouldn't say that. I get sorta carried away, you know, being so normal and everything. Tell me, umm, when you were standing there at the desk checkin' in with the night manager, Mr. George Swine, who I happen to know as a personal friend of mine, umm, I was wondering if, uh, he fixed you up with, uh, sort of good accommodation here...You're quite sure about that, because, I mean, I could really easily have a word with George Swine. Uh, I mean, he's a really nor-normal nice sorta guy and I've only got to have a normal word in his ear and you'd be surprised what things could happen from a thing like that. I mean, he-he'd probably go and turn some of the troopers out so you could have a lovely room - a bridal suite for you and your lovely little girl.
Humbert: No, please, I don't want you to take any trouble on my account. We're perfectly comfortable.
Quilty: But he should do it. It's his job to fix you up with something nice, I mean, you know, he gets paid for doing that thing (stuttering) and when he sees a guy like you coming in, all normal and everything, with a lovely little girl beside him, he should say to himself, 'Gee, I've got to give that guy a lovely sorta comfortable foamy bed to sleep in.' I mean, you know, I just don't like to hear things like that happening because I could go over and really take a swipe at him for not giving you a lovely, comfortable, sleepy, movie-star bed. You know what I mean, heh, I mean, you know, what has he got ya? On the floor or something?
Humbert: Well, the little girl is probably asleep already - in the bed - and, uh...(laughter) I don't know why we're discussing this because...
Quilty: Listen, why don't you let me have a look at the room - at the accommodation that you have, now, and-and-and- really take it in for a second - and then I could come down and have a word with George Swine? It would be so simple.

As a result of Quilty's long-winded cross-examination, delay tactics, and numerous intimidating references about being a policeman, and having a suspicious nature and close connections to the hotel staff, Humbert excuses himself from being further entangled. He begins to return upstairs to his room. As a final harrassment, Quilty neatly summarizes for Humbert how he has influenced him to lay aside his plans to seduce Lolita:

You're going because you maybe think that, uh, me being a policeman and everything, I think you're sorta suspicious. I-I don't think that at all. I think you're really normal and everything. You don't have to go because of that...You have a most interesting face. Goodnight.

In the following slapstick sequence for comic relief, Humbert tries to persuade the black hotel clerk to return the rollaway cot. However, they decide to quietly wheel the uncooperative bed into the room without disturbing Lolita - she is sleeping in the room's only bed and brightly illuminated by the moonlight - her face and hair are lovingly-photographed. They struggle with the unyielding, disjointed apparatus for a while until it is successfully set up. Humbert contemplates crawling in bed with Lolita - he gingerly and carefully folds back the covers and begins climbing in with one knee. Awakened, she stirs and sits up: "Hello. (She yawns and notices the cot.) The cot came...Well, goodnight." She stretches out on the entire bed, implicitly chasing him away a second time.

Humbert resigns himself to sleeping alone on the recalcitrant cot and slowly shuffles over to it. The creaky, unstable, anti-human rollaway collapses under his weight after he stretches out - so has his plans to sleep with Lolita!

Previous Page Next Page