Thursday, July 1, 2010

Laughter in the Dark

I don’t mean to brag but I used to read books. Yeah, it’s true. Ask just about anybody. One night, about 12 years or so ago, I was finishing up reading this awesome book by Vladimir Nabokov called Laughter in the Dark and as I got to the last chapter, it hit me: I had seen the movie adaptation of this book before (perhaps on cable when I was a kid). The climax of Nabokov’s sardonically cruel thriller (a prototype for Lolita) is amazing and unforgettable and the filmmakers had done an awesome job putting it on the screen. As for the rest of the movie, I couldn’t really remember any of it (and that may or may not be a comment on the film's quality; I just don’t recall anything else). The next day, I checked my local video store and couldn’t find a copy of the film. Pretty soon, Laughter in the Dark slipped my mind and years went by before I thought about it again.

When I did think of it again, IMDB told me that it starred the great Nicol Williamson of The Seven-Per-Cent Solution and Exorcist III and it also told me that it wasn’t available on VHS or DVD. Upon further investigation, anyone who wants to see Laughter in the Dark is pretty much screwed. I can’t even find a bootleg of this damn thing. I can't even find a friggin' trailer on Youtube. Jeez! Every couple of years, I run into the book on my shelves and I decide to go and hunt for the film again. If any of you crazy kids have seen this flick, let me know if I should just give up looking for it (even though I won’t). And if you happen to have a copy, please please please please please please please hook me up.


  1. Awesome post!
    I've read the book about four times in English and twice in it's original Russian incarnation(as "Kamera Obskura"). Nabokov himself preferred the English version which he considered more polished.
    I've been dying to see the film for years.
    You're actually the first person on the net that I know of who have seen this film.
    Cheers for the lobby cards.
    What an awesome idea - Karina in a Tony Richardson movie!

  2. I've not posted many comments on your blog, but I've consistently enjoyed your writing, both here and at Doomed Moviethon. I’ve nominated you for a Versatile Blogger award.

    Details here:

    Best wishes,


  3. @Alex - I sure hope this flick surfaces. I sure would like to see it again. I don't even know how I old I was when I saw it.

    @Neil - Hey duder, thanks for the nomination!

  4. I caught the film at the legendary "UC Theatre" in Berkeley in the late 1970s, having already read the book (same paperback depicted on this page) along with everything else of Nabokov's I could devour by that time. The one explicitly sexual scene was so clumsily done (in fairness, English-language directors were still learning the ropes here in 1969) that jeers and catcalls erupted spontaneously from the theatre audience, but I remember the rest of the film as having been very well done, notwithstanding the change of venue from 1930s Berlin to late-sixties Swinging London. Like you, I yearn for its eventual reappearance (but geez! --I was in my twenties for that screening, and am now heading toward my sixtieth summer).

  5. @Rand - Whoa! Thanks for the insight. It is nice to hear about how the crowd reacted to the film. Let's hope this film finally resurfaces.