The Curator of Schlock #290 by Jeff Shuster
I think you’re growing up too soon, girl.
I don’t like it when box art lies. This goes back to the days of Mom & Pop video rental palaces, when you’d see some movie you’ve never heard of with an intriguing cover only to be disappointed when you popped it in the VCR when you got home. This brings us to tonight’s movie, 1969’s Lola from director Richard Donner (of Superman fame).
Look at this DVD cover.
We have Charles Bronson in a coat brandishing a pistol. This brings to mind Paul Kersey, the vigilante from the Death Wish movies, but there’s one big problem. Charles Bronson doesn’t have a mustache, nor does he brandish a gun in this movie. The back of the case claims that the movie was directed by John Sturges, but it was, in fact, directed by Richard Donner. The backs reads, “Charles Bronson, Susan George, and Trevor Howard star in this gritty portrayal of a man struggling to keep his demons at bay.” Nope. Again, I’m not seeing it.
This is a goofy 60s comedy about a thirty-eight year-old man dating a sixteen-year-old girl.
Susan George plays Lola (also known as Twinky in some versions), a sixteen-year-old English girl who just happens to be having intimate relations with Scott Wardman (Charles Bronson), a close to middle-aged writer of pornographic fiction who’s living in a London flat. Lola tells Scott that she spilled the beans to her parents, and her father is furious. Scott asks her what the age of consent is in England. She says it’s sixteen, but England can still deport Scott or send him to jail for other reasons. Lola consulted the family lawyer on this. Scott chases Lola out the apartment, but then chases after her. They decide to get married in Scotland, where a man can marry a sixteen-year-old girl. Problem solved!
What am I watching here? The movie presents this situation as cute and zany. I wasn’t alive in ’69. I’m not that clear on what the social norms were, but I’m surprised that at no point in this movie do we find an angry mob surrounding Scott and beating him to death. Maybe if John Sturges had directed this movie.
Lola’s father says their marriage won’t work out. Lola’s mother seems more sympathetic and wishes them the best. I can’t help, but notice how attractive Lola’s mother is. Then I realize she is none other than Honor Blackman (Pussy Galore from Goldfinger). There’s a theme song for Lola that’s sung by Jim Dale, the narrator of the Harry Potter books, that I mistook for a lost Dave Clark Five track.
Scott and Lola move to New York City where Scott begins a career as a failed novelist. Scott is required to enroll Lola in high school, as it is the law.
I keep imagining there’s an alternative version of this movie where Lola falls in love with the captain of the football team and asks Scott to drive them to prom.
Anyway, Lola leaves Scott a Dear John letter after they get into a fight over her cat.
What does it all mean? This movie is messing with my head.
Jeff Shuster (episode 47, episode 102, episode 124, episode 131, and episode 284) is an MFA graduate from the University of Central Florida.
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