Daily Dialogue — March 15, 2013

March 15th, 2013 by

QUILTY: Hello.
HUMBERT: You’re addressing me? I thought perhaps there was someone with you.
QUILTY: No, I’m not really with someone. I’m with you. I didn’t mean that as an insult. What I meant was that I’m with the State Police here, and…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.
HUMBERT: I wouldn’t like to disturb you. I’ll leave you alone if you prefer it.
QUILTY: You don’t really have to go at all. I like it. I don’t know what it is. I get the impression that you want to leave but you don’t like to……because you think I think it looks suspicious, me being a policeman and all. You don’t have to think that because I haven’t got a suspicious mind at all. A lot of people think I’m suspicious, especially when I stand on street corners. One of our boys picked me up once. He thought that I was too suspicious standing on the street corner. Tell me, 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, there’s a guy with the most normal-looking face I ever saw in my life.
HUMBERT: That’s very nice of you.
QUILTY: Not a bit. It’s great to see a normal face, ’cause I’m a normal guy. Be great for two normal guys to get together and talk about world events, in a normal way.
HUMBERT: There’s nothing I would like better than that, but I don’t have much time.
QUILTY: It’s a pity, because, may I say one other thing to you? I’ve been thinking about it a lot. I noticed when you was checking in you had a lovely little girl with you. She was really lovely. She wasn’t so little, come to think of it. She was fairly tall, taller than little, you know, but she was really lovely. I wish I had a pretty, tall, lovely little girl like that…
HUMBERT: That was my daughter.
QUILTY: Your daughter? Isn’t it great to have a lovely, tall, pretty, little daughter like that? It’s wonderful. I don’t have any children or boys or little tall girls. I’m not even… Are you married?
HUMBERT: Yes, I’m expecting my wife, perhaps, to come here.
QUILTY: May I say something? I thought you looked uneasy at the desk. I was thinking that you want to get away from your wife. I don’t blame you. If I was married I’d take every opportunity to get away!
HUMBERT: Yes. No, that was not it at all. As a matter of fact, it’s possible that my wife won’t join me because when I left home she was not well.
QUILTY: What was the matter with your wife?
HUMBERT: It’s not important… She had an accident.
QUILTY: She had an accident! That’s terrible! Fancy a normal guy’s wife having an accident like that! What happened to her?
HUMBERT: She was hit by a car.
QUILTY: No wonder she’s not here. You must feel pretty bad about that. What’s happening? Is she coming later, or something?
HUMBERT: Well, that was the understanding.
QUILTY: What, in an ambulance? I’m sorry I said that. I shouldn’t say that. I get sort of carried away, being so normal and all. When you were at the desk checking in with the night manager, Mr. George Swine, who I happen to know as a personal friend, I was wondering if he fixed you up with a good accommodation here.
HUMBERT: Yes, they were extremely cooperative.
QUILTY: You sure? Because I could easily have a word with George Swine. He’s a really normal, nice sort of guy and I’ve only got to have a normal word in his ear and you’d be surprised what things could happen. He’d probably turn some troopers out, so you could have a lovely room, a bridal suite, for you and your lovely girl.
HUMBERT: I don’t want you to take any trouble on my account. We’re perfectly comfortable.
QUILTY: It’s his job to fix you up with something nice. He gets paid for doing that and when he sees a guy like you, all normal with a lovely girl, he should say to himself: “I got to give that guy a lovely sort of comfortable, foamy bed to sleep in.” I don’t like to hear things like that, ’cause I could go and take a swipe at him for not giving you a lovely, comfortable, sleepy, movie-star bed. You know what I mean? What has he got you on the floor or something?
HUMBERT: Well, the little girl is probably asleep already in the bed and… I don’t know why we’re discussing…
QUILTY: Why don’t you let me have a look at the accommodation that you have, and take it in for a second, then I can have a word with George Swine? It would be simple.
HUMBERT: No, you really shouldn’t worry about either of us. Which reminds me, I should go upstairs now.
QUILTY: You’re going because you think that me being a policeman, I’d think you were sort of suspicious? I don’t think that at all. I think you’re really normal. You don’t have to go because of that.
HUMBERT: No. It’s been very nice talking to you.
QUILTY: Before you go, I was wondering whether maybe in the morning, you know, me being lonely and normal…
HUMBERT: We have to get up at the crack of dawn.
QUILTY: We can have breakfast.
HUMBERT: That’s very nice, but…
QUILTY: I can arrange it with George Swine. He could have it laid out.
HUMBERT: Well, thank you so much. Goodnight.
QUILTY: You have a most interesting face. Goodnight.

Lolita (1962), screenplay by Vladimir Nabokov and Stanley Kubrick (uncredited), based on the novel by Nabokov

The Daily Dialogue theme for the week is innuendo, suggested by Hawkewood. Today’s suggestion by JasperLamarCrab.

Trivia: Vladimir Nabokov’s original screenplay diverged greatly from the novel, but only a portion of it was used by Stanley Kubrick, even though Nabokov gets screen credit. Nabokov later published it as “Lolita: A Screenplay”. The unused screenplay featured an Alfred Hitchcock-like cameo for Nabokov, who is referred to as “that nut with a butterfly net” (Nabokov was well known as an amateur lepidopterist). Although he generally admired the movie adaptation of his book, Nabokov regretted the waste of his time in writing a screenplay which was altered so drastically during filming.

Dialogue On Dialogue: Commentary by Jasper: “By the end of this barrage of innuendo, we’re both laughing and wincing at the word “normal,” which in this context gets virtually re-defined as “completely perverted.”

For the record, I would just like to note that Peter Sellers is my favorite comic actor and Kubrick knew how to use him brilliantly both here and in Dr. Strangelove.

2 thoughts on “Daily Dialogue — March 15, 2013

  1. hobbs001 says:

    Sellers is just magnificent here. Way, way out of his comfort zone. Easily his best performance after “Being There” and in some ways much more challenging. And how many confrontation scenes (that’s what this is – a stomach-turning confrontation between two perverts) do you see where the characters deliberately do not face each other? Excellent POV shot from Mason’s character – Kubrick was brilliant even from his early days.

    1. Scott says:

      hobbs, agree completely. The staging of this scene, Quilty NOT looking at Humbert makes the line of questioning even MORE unnerving, it makes the innuendo even MORE indirect, yet MORE threatening. Plus Humbert being unable to see – and therefore read – Quilty’s face elevates the unpredictable nature of the conversation. Humbert can’t tell how serious or comical or whatever Quilty is being in the very real way humans pick up on body language to interpret communication.

      Re Being There: What an unbelievably great role and highlights the brilliance of Sellers who played to the character’s understated, naive nature throughout, never once going outside Chauncey’s nature. That must have been so hard, especially how incredible Sellers was with physical comedy, but he was true to the character throughout which speaks both to his commitment to the craft and his understanding of character with a narrative.

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