December 28, 2019

"Some 800 girls were said to have sought the part. When Ms. Lyon was cast, Mr. Nabokov, employing the word he used in the novel, called her 'the perfect nymphet'..."

"Ms. Lyon accumulated more than two dozen film and television credits from 1959 to 1980, but she was known primarily for one: Mr. Kubrick’s 1962 film of the Nabokov novel ['Lolita'], which was adapted for the screen by Mr. Nabokov himself.... The novel was scandalous when it was first published in English in 1955; the film, made when the restrictive Motion Picture Production Code still governed Hollywood, was less so — in part, some critics thought, because Ms. Lyon, whose character was aged slightly for the movie, seemed too mature. 'She looks to be a good 17 years old, possessed of a striking figure and a devilishly haughty teenage air,' Bosley Crowther said in his review in The Times. 'The distinction is fine, we will grant you, but she is definitely not a "nymphet."'"

From "Sue Lyon, Star of ‘Lolita,’ Is Dead at 73/She was 14 when she was cast in the title role of Stanley Kubrick’s 1962 film of the Nabokov novel. It remained her best-known credit" (NYT).

28 comments:

Narayanan said...

And There is Brooke Shields

jaydub said...

One of the real tragedies of the Epstein non-suicide is that it prevented the completion of his remake of "Lolita," which was to star Prince Andrew with a cameo appearance by Bill Clinton. It also rendered moot the extensive story research Epstein had already completed. Sad all the way around.

gilbar said...

And, of COURSE; people told Tuesday Weld that SHE should have been Lolita;
and she said something like: "Why would i want to Act that? I WAS That"

Darrell said...

Jeremy Irons and Dominique Swain made a much more disturbing Lolita in 1997.

Fernandinande said...

And There is Brooke Shields

"a body double had been utilized"

Rory said...

She appeared in a slip on Love, American Style. Probably no more than a minute, but 50 years later the image remains.

John henry said...

Making pedophilia fun fun and attractive one underage girl at a time.

If there were justice in this world nabakov, Polanski and epstein would be reviled equally.

One might even make the case that, as much harm as he did, epstein may have done less than the other 2. How many child molesters have seen Polanski and nabakov and the way they are lionized as artists! (tm) and figured thi vile behavior is OK.

I understand Lyon. A gigs a gig, she needs to eat. But isn't there some other role we can remember her for?

She is an enabler and excuse in this role.

Unless you think pedophilia in the name of phart is OK.

John Henry

Johnathan Birks said...

Crowther is correct insofar as it was impossible to cast a true "nymphet" in 1962, but Sue Lyon was fantastic in the role. RIP.

Also, anyone who thinks Lolita is "enabling pedophila" is a moron.

Darrell said...

I understand Lyon. A gigs a gig, she needs to eat. But isn't there some other role we can remember her for?


Sure. In 1963, Lyon was cast as a seductive teenager in John Huston's The Night of the Iguana (1964), competing for the affections of disgraced preacher Richard Burton against the likes of Deborah Kerr and Ava Gardner. Oh, wait. . .

Lurker21 said...

Married and divorced five times. Sad life.

Back when repertory cinemas were around Baby Doll was some kind of cult favorite. That was Carroll Baker, but similar theme.

Some people will tell you that Nabokov wasn't just writing for titillation but was a highly moral writer. The jury's still out on that and considering evidence.

Roughcoat said...

I was working at a bar in Denver in the mid-70s when Sue Lyons came in and applied for a job as a cocktail waitress. Previously she had been working as a cocktail waitress in Estes Park. She was pretty and nice, but looked really down and out, sad. I felt sorry for her.

Ingachuck'stoothlessARM said...

why isnt it "nymphette" ?

... too sexist?

rcocean said...

Wow, amazing she's dead. Amazing she was 73. She was always frozen in my mind as young women since I've only seen her in "Night of the Iguana" and "Lolita". I guess Tony Dow and the Beaver will be kicking the bucket in the next ten years too. And yet Ruth Bader Ginsberg still lives.

rcocean said...

Sue Lyons was a good actress, but there a million good looking girls who are good actresses. The competition for parts is fierce, its a tough racket. By comparison the number of good looking guys, who are good actors, is relatively small.

rcocean said...

The book is much, much, better than the films. Just sayin'. There's a depth to the book, and lots of word play and humor that can't translate to the screen. Plus, you have an unreliable narrator, which is always fun.

Leland said...

Ah yes, the "she looked 17 to me" line...

rcocean said...

Lyons was 16 in the movie, which was about 3 years too old for the part. So, the movie is dishonest. Nabakov used to say that for every person who read the book straight through, 2 read part of it and gave up when they couldn't find any pedo sex acts in it.

William said...

You know you're old when you've outlived Lolita.

Tom T. said...

The book, when read with care toward the unreliable narration, makes clear that the notion that "she came on to me" is the narrator's invention, and in fact young Dolores is being relentlessly abused.

Ken B said...

Never liked the movie. The book though is great.

Char Char Binks, Esq. said...

'why isnt it "nymphette" ?'

Because Nabokov was a lepidopterist, which sounds dirtier than it is.

roadgeek said...

"...I understand Lyon. A gigs a gig, she needs to eat. But isn't there some other role we can remember her for?..."

She was good in "Tony Rome", but "Lolita" was her best. Like a great many artists, she really had one great role in her, and "Lolita" was it. She never did much else, except for some television.

Mark said...

Then there is the entire stable of Disney victims.

Unknown said...

"Also, anyone who thinks Lolita is "enabling pedophila" is a moron."

A moron, hey. Well, at least I'm not a pedophile.

Narr said...

Immorality in books! Something ought to be done!

Great book, not-so-great movies.

Narr
Beautiful girl, Sue

Saint Croix said...

Jailbait is a great word.

n.n said...

Trans-social.

n.n said...

The transgender spectrum wasn't normalized without a judicial democratic override and, apparently, a tolerable sociopolitical construct ("="), political congruence, or selective exclusion. The attempt to normalize pedophilia will face the same resistance and force an aftermath. Moms and dads are bitterly defensive of their Posterity, their unplanned babies, toddlers, prepubescents, adolescents, and teenagers, too.