Friday, February 5, 2010

Sue Lyon and Dominique Swain

Back in the 1950s, a young actress named Sue Lyon starred in Stanley Kubrick’s production of Vladimir Nabokov’s Lolita. Sue Lyon’s life went straight downhill from there. She had four failed marriages, including one to a man who was doing a life sentence in Colorado for murder. She once commented, “try having a normal life when you make your debut as a sex symbol at fifteen.” I thought of Ms. Lyon’s comment upon the release of the Jeremy Irons version of Lolita, co-starring Dominique Swain.

I read Nabokov’s novel and thought he was a genius as a writer. At the same time, I found the protagonist (Humbert Humbert) an absolutely loathsome creature. (Spoiler alert: Lolita came out fifty years ago. If you don’t know the ending, tough.) In the end of the book, when the narrator relates that Humbert dies of a heart attack after a short stay in jail, I thought, “No, no, no, I want him to do at least twenty-five in solitary.”

In any event, Miss Swain has not done any stints in rehab, has had no failed marriages, and has not appeared in the police blotter, so I guess she’s doing fine.

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