Thursday, December 16, 2010

Lola (1970)

Stop me if you’ve heard this one before: There’s this movie from 1970 starring Charles Bronson as an American porno novelist living in London whose affair with a 16-year-old girl gets him kicked out of England, so the lovers make a go at marriage once they relocate to the U.S. Oh, and the movie’s directed by Richard Donner, the fella behind such manly-man romps as Lethal Weapon, The Omen, and Superman. You didn’t stop me. Guess you haven’t heard this one after all. Not a big surprise. Lola rates pretty high on the obscurity scale, probably because Bronson fans don’t savor watching the actor whom an Italian critic once famously dubbed “Il Brute” doing the whole sensitive-artist thing. It also doesn’t help that the version currently available on DVD bears the pointless alternate title Twinky, and features a print that looks like it was processed through intestinal secretions instead of photochemical solutions. Still, the movie’s far from awful, even if it belongs to a pervy subgenre depicting with-it older dudes nailing precocious young women (Breezy, Lolita, Petulia, etc.). It’s a kick to see Bronson playing an articulate adult instead of a gun-toting troglodyte, and Donner moves the thing along at a killer pace (most scenes feature some sort of movement, with characters climbing up and down ladders or stairs, and so on); the director also employs mod gimmicks like flash cuts to transition between scenes. The supporting cast is enjoyable, especially Trevor Howard as Lola’s lecherous granddad, and playing Lola is Susan George, a year away from her memorable performance in Sam Peckinpah’s Straw Dogs. Since she was actually 19-ish when she made the picture, I suppose it’s kosher to remark that she’s awfully sexy in her little schoolgirl outfits, even if her character whines more or less constantly. Lola boasts some of the most ear-splittingly awful music ever used in movies, and at least one priceless line of dialogue: “I make one uncool move with a nutty 16-year-old kid, and suddenly my whole world is turned upside down.” In my book, listening to Bronson chew his way through vintage hipster talk like that is a sure sign that one has discovered a truly watchable cinematic oddity.


1 comment:

F. Ben Martin said...

Very funny review. thanks. The mind boggles at this film. The movie poster says "She's almost 16. He's almost 40. It may be love but it's definitely exhausting." What the...?? Its also definitely creepy and definitely not something that is even remotely okay by any stretch of the imagination.
But this cast - - - - don;t forget Lionel Jeffries, Michael (Mysterious Island) Craig, Honor Blackman, Orson Bean, Robert Morely.
Richard Donner had directed Bronson a few years earlier on television. I wonder if Bronson got Donner this big-screen job this early in his career.