MovieChat Forums > Winchester '73 (1950) Discussion > Lola is an absolute idiot (possible spoi...

Lola is an absolute idiot (possible spoilers)


This is such a great film it's a shame the character of Lola (Shelley Winters) is such an incredible, foolish idiot.

She gets hooked up with a man she knows is a cowardly boob (Steve). She sits around with Waco even as he taunts and kills Steve. She hardly registers any emotion about Steve's death. Astoundingly, she voluntarily escapes from the burning farmhouse with Waco and rides along with him, even though he had to get away fast and she could have easily gotten away from him (he was only holding her by the hand when they got out through the window). She antagonizes Dutch Henry. She stands there like a dumbbell staring at the photo of Lin, Dutch and their father until Dutch catches her and realizes she knows Lin, then stands outside tossing around the bullet Lin gave her, again getting caught by Dutch Henry and spilling how she knows Lin. In Tascosa, she gets in the way of Lin as he's trying to defend himself against Waco outside the bar, nearly getting him killed in the process, then does it almost immediately again when High Spade tries to get out the door to help Lin -- all the while screaming hysterically. She then runs screeching into the street, yet again gets in the way of Lin shooting Dutch Henry, then gets in the way a fourth time as Dutch shoots her -- probably by accident in the confusion, but you wish it had been on purpose, since in that case he would have certainly killed her and put everyone out of their misery.

In all this she acts like someone with an I.Q. of 80, a blank, brainless imbecile who can't think anything through, just reacts from crisis to crisis in the most unthinking manner possible. She is so stupid, so helplessly unhinged, so unable to think or do for herself, so dense to be able to realize what's going on and keep her mouth shut, that she repeatedly endangers Lin and even makes her own situation worse.

So the question is -- what in God's name does Lin see in this fat, stupid dunce?

This is one of the worst-written female leads in a major western (I'll leave out other genres). Lola is an insult to women everywhere, every way. No, she's not a bad person, but she's so thick and clueless that it's inexplicable why Lin could be so interested in her. Couldn't they have provided a leading lady with brains, "street-smarts" and some shrewdness, instead of this yammering dunce who seems to walk off with whichever man she happens to be with at the moment?

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I would not say Lola was an idiot. You think Lola is because without hesitation she went along with Waco after killing her partner but it is not to make her look like an idiot, it made her a vulnerable woman. Although she could handle herself with a gun shown at the fight with the Indian tribe, she was living in an environment which was dominated by masculinity. Therefore she was in the weakest position most of the time including when she was taken away by Waco.

"I'd rather be hated for who I am, than loved for who I am not".

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Vulnerable perhaps, but that doesn't explain all her hysterical or stupid behavior. Even if you grant she was coerced into going with Waco, she showed absolutely no remorse, anger or fear over Steve's death, only minutes before. Her attitude was unrealistic, to say the least. In any case, she ran off with Waco without the slightest hesitation or resistance.

Anyway, there's more to her mistakes than just going off with Waco. Her unthinking, bone-headed actions caused Lin a lot more trouble at every turn.

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There are indications of Lola being a loose woman so that may be the reason why her emotions were as you believe not correct for the situation. As for running off with Waco without hesitation, again in my opinion it is because of Lola's vulnerability. She may have been scared of being killed by Wace if she did not do as he said.

"I'd rather be hated for who I am, than loved for who I am not".

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There is the inference that Lola had a "past", i.e., worked in a dance hall (movie code for prostitute), but she showed plenty of what we may call "normal" human emotion in most cases...too much, in fact, as it leads her into several bouts of unthinking hysteria which, among other things, tip Waco and Dutch Henry off to Lin's whereabouts, almost get Lin killed, and allow his brother to get away from the botched robbery, at least temporarily. True, she does have the momentary presence of mind in the Tascosa saloon to tell Lin about Waco's gun, but such calm and helpful behavior is the exception, not the rule.

She shows genuine concern for Lin (even if her concern backfires almost every time), as she did for the child caught in the confusion of the bank heist, and for the soldiers in the battle with the Indians. Her emotions are perfectly reasonable. So why is her reaction to her fiancee's murder so cavalier? Even before the gunfight at the ranch she wasn't exactly emotional about the man she loved having just been gunned down. On the contrary, she was pretty matter-of-fact about the whole business, and never uttered a word of real remorse anytime afterward.

As to her being scared of Waco, that doesn't explain her lack of any hesitation in going with him (in fact, it's more of a reason for her to have hesitated or, better still, resisted) -- and it certainly doesn't explain her sticking with him in town. At some point she could have tried to get away. But she went along with him everywhere, and while she disdained him, she showed no fear at all, just contempt. Her refusal to even try to avoid him, or escape from him, is just plain odd. She had no problem standing up to other men (Wyatt Earp, even Steve), or even Waco, for that matter, when she bullied him into releasing the mother and kids from the farm house. But suddenly she just sticks with Waco and makes no attempt to get away or turn him in. If Lin hadn't shown up in Tascosa the robbery would have come off and she would have gone on with Waco.

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Hey! She wasn't fat. ;)


The Doctor is out. Far out.

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Hah! Okay -- she was well on the way.

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Chubby.

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Pleasingly plump. Probably why the bullet didn't penetrate very far. If she had gotten it in the head, it would doubtless have bounced off.

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No she wasn't. Little tiny waist. And camera adds weight but even so she was trim.

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Seems like Shelly Winters often played this same type of character - needy, whiny, unhappy women. For example, A Place in the Sun, Lolita, The Night of the Hunter, Executive Suite. One wonders if she was particularly suited to this type of part, or did she just bring that quality to every part she played?

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