Tuesday, July 29, 2014

No Betty Heroine Was Named 'Sabrina'

Although I do associate 'Tabitha' with 'Sabrina.'  Oh, I just realized why.

I watched the 1954 movie Sabrina quite recently, for the first time.  I of course adore Mr. Bogart, and Ms. Head, and the Watchacallit Estate setting was lovely.  However, as a romance, this story fell splat on its face for me.  Perhaps you have a different view.  If so, I'd love to read it.  Let me detail my confusions regarding how love came into the thing:

1)  Sabrina loves David, or thinks she does, and her friends in the servants' quarters seem to cheer her on.  Huh?  Everyone knows he's a worthless ne'er-do-well.  She rarely even talks to him, so her crush is based primarily on his looks and a rollerskating lesson ten years ago.  And then she heads off to Paris, spends two years meeting other people there, and her crush survives?  Why?  What?  How am I to sympathize with this woman?

She has friends, distractions, and he's a ninny.  Not getting over him isn't love, it's foolishness.

Lab rat, or possibly Laurens.
[Betty notes:  David is not even a registrar!  He is clearly Adam ter Brandt or Laurens van Amstel, and should be shipped to Pittsburgh, though the Larrabee family idea of Bozeman or Butte is worthwhile also. Further, Christina and Serena (Both rhyme with Sabrina.  Hmmm.) have psychologically-demonstrated reasons for maintaining their crushes with worthless n.d.w's long past the sensible expiration date.  If your w.n.d.w. is nearby, alternately criticizing and praising you, taking you to tea and standing you up, your crush may never die.  We get hooked harder by inconsistent reward than by reliable reward.  Try it with a rat and some food pellets and a little button sometime.]

2) David loves Sabrina, or claims he does.  This is based on seeing her in a seriously pencil-cut skirt suit with something perilously close to a turban on her head, and in an admittedly awesome ball gown, and dancing with her very briefly.  Even if he (thrice-married) acts on his infatuations in a manner detrimental to the marriage vow, she can't believe he loves her on the basis of two good outfits.  C'mon!

I think it actually is a turban.
Betty note:  I believe they don't ever actually kiss in the movie, though lots of stills where they seem to.

Prescribe Diazepam;
marry English girl;
finish Lancet article.
[Betty notes:  Sure, we sometimes fall in love at first sight, but if so we jot a reminder to marry her in our small leather notebook, or resolve to put him out of our minds unless that fiancée proves as poisonous as she looks.  We do not immediately announce our feelings to the object thereof and start planning an elopement, especially if one of us is engaged to be married already.  And yes, I know Betty believed in the power of a great outfit, but a true hero knows his beloved would look lovely in a potato sack.  This is worth bearing in mind.]

3)  Linus loves Sabrina, and she loves him.  This is based on his having been overworked for three decades, and her feeling cossetted by him as he deviously plots to detach her from his brother, and her mild pity for him, which is based on a complete lie he told as part of the devious plotting process.  I give them six weeks, tops.  Actually, since it's a little based on his being Humphrey Bogart, I give him six weeks, tops, while she moons around for years wondering what outfit will get him home earlier.


[Betty notes:  I do not see any helpful pointers in the oeuvre for this fantasy or incipient train wreck.  Or both.]

4)  The voiceover tells us the Larrabee parents married in 1906.  The movie was made in 1954.  So they've been married 48 years, and had two sons.  Assume it took them eight years to pop out the first; he's still forty.  The younger has been married three times, and single for several years, so I don't see how he can be much less than 35.  (William Holden was about 36 when they made the movie; Humphrey Bogart about 55.)  Sabrina is 20 when she returns from Paris.  ICK!!

Still rather swoony, actually, but I'm pushing 50.  Ms. Hepburn looks more doubtful.

[Betty notes:  Mary Jane and Fabian are 22 and 40 during their Winter of Change, and they are the ickiest couple in the canon.  Heroes are typically about 12 years older than their [future] wives.]

Does this movie work as a romance for you?  Porquoi, as Sabrina would say?


  1. Argh! Blogger ate my comment, Nasty Blogger.

    Let me try again--
    Betty Barbara agrees with your take on this movie. It isn't one of my favorites, even though I adore Ms Hepburn and Mr Bogart.

    I think one of the reasons the age difference is so squicky is that Sabrina is still a girl when she comes back from Paris. She may be 20 and have great clothes, but she hasn't quite grown up yet.

  2. I agree--creepy.

    That said. Hmmm. I always assumed that the age difference worked because Linus took over the family business at an early age (after Harvard), and never had a playful, enjoyable middle years. He went from 22 to CEO, with all the burdens that come with it. Because he was so good at it, David let him continue doing it, as did the rest of his family who lived idly on his hard-won profits, including Sabrina's chauffeur father who listened in to business discussions and took advantage of it (can you say insider trading!). Wooing Sabrina launched Linux into a full-on mid-life crisis. He was going back with her to Paris to learn about living life without the burden of the business and family.

    I give it 6 months until David blows the business deals and sends the stocks spiraling, and Linus has to go back to being a CEO. Perhaps she'll come with him, and have lots of twins to raise--at least 6. She can teach them to climb trees and be nice to the servants.


    Catherine (a Betty van den Wasatch)

  3. I love Audrey Hepburn (bonus she was born in the Netherlands) but I preferred the later version of Sabrina with Harrison Ford, it was a bit more modern and the age differences perhaps not as great as Bogart and Hepburn. She did wear wonderful gowns (as per Givenchy), and I also loved her in Roman Holiday with Gregory Peck who would be great RDD material.

  4. I saw it first in my youth. I've seen it lots of times. Loved it from the first. Saw it again in this millennium and all of a sudden Mr Bogart looked – sigh – too old for this role, past middle-age... I always thought David Larrabee (William Holden) seemed, well, not very bright. What did Sabrina see in him? And Sabrina (Audrey Hepburn) was very naive. I rather like the new version: Linus (Harrison Ford) is not too old, Sabrina is not naive, well, not really, David is smarter, his future wife a doctor!!!, the French photographer (Patrick Bruel) really cool.

  5. I don't know what's happening, while I've been reading and writing just now I have seen a lot of people online from the Netherlands!

  6. I agree, I liked the more recent version with Harrison Ford. Like with all the older movies, it was a hit or miss. Of course,knowing that they were on contract and had to do what they were told basically. Great discussion!!

  7. As it so happens, I have just finished a (Brighton-free) Regency Christmas novella by Bronwyn Scott, Finding Forever at Christmas, where the heroine returns home to England after spending five years in Paris with an aunt. Home to her is not her own home but the estate of the friends whom she grew up with. She left when she was fifteen, with a dream in her heart: she thought herself in love with the younger son of the family and hopes that now that she is grown up, dressed in the latest fashion, he will fall in love with her too so she can become a real part of the Deveril family. The younger son is blond and, at least in this story, nothing but a playful slightly immature butterfly. The older son, the Viscount, heir to a marquessate (I refuse to look up the spelling of that word), she remembers as dark and dour. He is recently (?) returned from an excursion to the rainforest... And, of course, he's the one, not his brother!

    1. OOPS ! ! ! Correction:
      In my book Deverill is spelt with two "L", I took a peak at one of the books (that has Brighton spelt all over it) where the younger brother is the hero, there the name is spelt with one "L".

      Heir to an Earldom only. (The - absent - marquess was father two two of the other guests of the house party. I got that mixed up.)

      It was not the heroine's aunt, it was her great-aunt.

      Ms Scott should perhaps have employed the Neesian method of doing sums on the back of an envelope.

      HERO AND HEROINE'S AGE in Finding Forever at Christmas

      The heroine remembers when they were all young the hero, Finn, was five years older than she.

      Hero's age - 5 = Heroine's age

      Next his Finn's father tells him he is 28 now.

      28 - 5 = 23 Means Catherine, the heroine would be 23.

      At last, we learn Catherine was 15 when her great-aunt called for her to live with her in Paris where, as we know, she lived for 5 years.
      15 + 5 = 20 Means the heroine would be 20 in the story. And if the hero were 5 years older he would be 25. Not 28. But he is 28. His father should know.

      How old does that make his younger brother? He is 30 in his own story where a reference is made to his older brother's marriage, which sounds as if it took place during the last two years. I would have to read the book to find out for sure... 30 - 1 or 2 = 29 or 28 Means the younger brother would have been 28 or 29 at the time his older (28-year-old) brother got married.

      I give up.

  8. I am watching a talk show. One of the guests, journalist and author Katja Kessler, has just published a book about how she moved to the United States with her family because her husband had to go to Silicon Valley for a year. She said she moved into an appartment in Mountain View with her children. Mountain View, we have a Betty in Mountain View.

    P. S.: She is a doctor of dentistry who instaid of taking over her dad's office turned to journalism.