Inventing the Abbotts

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Inventing the Abbotts is a 1997 film about two working-class brothers who fall in love with three wealthy and beautiful sisters in a small Illinois town in the 1950s.

Directed by Pat O'Connor. Screenplay written by Ken Hixon, based on a short story by Sue Miller.
Love no matter what. Taglines

Narrator/Older Doug[edit]

  • The end of my innocence and childhood began in 1957. It is remarkable to me now just how little I knew then about the people around me. It took me years to figure out exactly what the truth was, especially given my brother's knack at inventing himself. My mother once told me that if the Abbotts didn't exist, my brother wouldn't have to invent them.
  • My brother and I were born strangers. Same last name, same address, but everything else about us was different. Back then, Jacey was a complete mystery to me, and I was a constant source of embarrassment to him.
  • Everything Jacey wanted in life, the Abbotts already had: their cars, money, country clubs. But in the beginning, more than anything else, he wanted Eleanor Abbott. I'd witnessed enough of my brother's social agony to resolve early on. I would never let the Abbotts matter to me.
  • I had always thought of Eleanor Abbott as just another stuck-up rich girl, a flirt, a tease. But she proved to be a bigger rebel than I ever was. Jacey and I never talked about that thing with Eleanor in the garage, but Jacey never bragged about his conquests. When he went off to college that fall, I didn't feel particularly sad, I felt free.
  • My brother was more successful at reinventing himself than I was. Jacey's parties at the University of Pennsylvania were the hippest ones around. And even though he had a major in architecture, he seriously minored in beautiful coeds.
  • Although I share Jacey's Abbott interest in the opposite sex, I obviously lacked his consummate skills. When Jacey came home that summer, he picked up right where he left off with Eleanor, and she was more than eager to pick up right where she left off with him.
  • My mother's life had been damaged by a lie, and my brother was forever lost in a maze of illusions that lie had created... and I had followed him there. Jacey would never find his way out, but I had to... and the only way I could do that was to forgive, but I could never forget.
  • Although she seemed unique to me then, I now know that the world is filled with working women raising children by themselves. There was nothing especially original about my mother... not even in the way she brought her sons back together again.
  • The truth about our mother and Lloyd didn't comfort Jacey, because the truth seemed to him just as unfair as the lie he had always believed in.
  • My mother was right; if the Abbotts didn't exist, Jacey would have had to invent them, but it seems to me that inventing the Abbotts was something that almost everyone in Haley did, and still do. Alice reunited with Peter, lived out the same lie of a happy marriage that her mother and father have lived, and a new generation of Abbott parties began.
  • Jacey pretended to care for Alice so well, the illusion became so complete that even he was fooled.
  • That visit from Joan Abbott not only marked the end of Jacey's affair with Eleanor, but also the end of Eleanor Abbott herself. She disappeared from Haley, vanished or banished, no one knew for certain. But life with the Abbotts went on without her.
  • A year later, the impossible finally happened. One of the Holt boys married one of the Abbott girls. We have two daughters. I named the youngest Helen after my mom.

Doug Holt[edit]

  • [sarcastically] Every time an Abbott girl get her period, they throw some kind of party!
  • Backyard nudity is hypocritical. It's insincere. People should do and say exactly what they feel and think and not try to hide things.
  • Hey Jacey... Remember the time I got my dick caught in my zipper? Remember in school, in the first grade?

Lloyd Abbot[edit]

  • [Lloyd shows Jacey the door after Alice backs away from him.] Now get the hell out of here, you ruttin' stud. Keep your poor-boy dick out of my daughters.
  • [to Jacey] I have plans for my daughters, Mr. Holt, they don't include you. I know you: I know you better than you know me. I know all there is to know about screwing your way into a wealthy family and there's no way I'm gonna let you screw your way into mine.

Pamela Abbott[edit]

  • Look, Alice is the good daughter, Eleanor's the bad one, and I'm the one that sort of gets off the hook. It's just the way it works.

Eleanor Abbott[edit]

  • [to Jacey] I just do things. I let other people figure them out. That's what parents are for; they're really good at doing all the thinking, so why should I? I think this is what they called the silent treatment. I get enough of it from my father, I don't need it from you. So good luck at Penn.

Helen Holt[edit]

  • There's different kinds of love, darling. Some people you love no matter what, and others you love if the situation was right. To me, the best kind of love is the "no matter what" kind.


Lloyd Abbott: I'm sorry about your mother.
Doug Holt: [incredulously] Your sorry?
Lloyd Abbott: You didn't know your mother at all if you think someone like me would ever stood a chance with someone like her.

Pamela Abbott: Stop treating me like an Abbott!
Doug Holt: How the hell am I supposed to treat you?
Pamela Abbott: Like you used to; like just plain Pam. And you don't have to say that you're sorry! And don't look at me as though someone just ran over your dog! It's make me want to scream sometimes.

Doug Holt: Either your mad at me because you're mad at me or you're mad at me because you like me, because that's how girls act. I mean... I don't know much but I know that. So, uh, which is it?
Pamela Abbott: Both.

[Jacey talks about Doug's artificial sideburns.]
Jacey Holt: You look like a clown. He looks like a clown, mom, and he doesn't even know it. I thought you weren't going to the party.
Doug Holt: I changed my mind.
Helen Holt: Doug, you do realize that you maybe the only person in this party with artificial sideburns.

Coed: You know, I'm engaged.
Jacey Holt: So am I.
Coed: You are?
Jacey Holt: Sure, I'm engaged in conversation with you
Narrator/Older Doug: I was in awe of his success with women. Just the thought of Eleanor Abbott conjured up images of absolute debauchery in my mind. After a while, I didn't see Jacey lying beneath her on the old sofa in the garage, I saw me.

Pamela Abbott: Look, I'm not rich. My father is. And I didn't pick my father. And if I had a choice between having tons of money and having another father, I'd be absolutely delighted to be poor. But unfortunately, life is just not a cafeteria.
Doug Holt: Life is not a cafeteria?
Pamela Abbott: You know what I mean.

Lloyd Abbott: That bet was your father's idea. And I never meant your mother any harm. I would have done anything for her, anything. I loved her. So, what do you want?
Doug Holt: I want to find Pam. I want you to tell me where she is.

Pamela Abbott: How can you ever forgive me?
Doug Holt: You always love me no matter what I did, right?
Pamela Abbott: Yeah.
Doug Holt: Maybe that's how I love you. No matter what. It's the best kind of love, you know?

[Lloyd catches Eleanor walking with Jacey.]
Eleanor Abbott: Hi, daddy.
Lloyd Abbott: What are you doing out here?
Eleanor Abbott: Fucking Jacey.
Lloyd Abbott: Get in the car.

Joan Abbott: Jacey needs to be disciplined.
Helen Holt: I don't think that's necessary.
Joan Abbott: Well if I were you, I'd talk to him, and--.
Helen Holt: No, Joan, I'm not going to do that. If you've got something to say to my son, you're going to have to say it to him yourself.
Joan Abbott: I just thought you would like to know what your son has done.
Helen Holt: And why on Earth should I believe anything you say, Joan.

Pamela Abbott: You don't know my father, you don't know how he is about Jacey. He blames him for everything that happened with Eleanor.
Doug Holt: Look, Eleanor flirts with a lot of guys. It's not Jacey's fault you dad kicked her out.
Pamela Abbott: He didn't kick her out, he sent her off to some goddamned nuthouse. He just up and shipped her off to some clinic; she was consigned.
Doug Holt: Wait, I thought you said that she's in Chicago.
Pamela Abbott: Well, she is now, they let her out like a month ago.


  • Love no matter what.
  • When you want it all but can't have it, there's only one way to handle life... invent it.


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