Sabrina – 1954 – English
Film directed in 1954 by Billy Wilder, and starring Humphrey Bogart, Audrey Hepburn, William Holden, Walter Hampden, John Williams, Martha Hyer, Joan Vohs, Marcel Dalio, Marcel Hillaire, Nella Walker, Francis X. Bushman, Ellen Corby…
Synopsis: Linus and David Larrabee are the two sons of a very wealthy family. Linus is all work — busily running the family corporate empire with no time for a wife and family. David is all play — technically employed in the family business but never showing up for work, spending all his time entertaining, and having been married and divorced three times. Sabrina Fairchild is the young, shy, and awkward daughter of the household chauffeur, who has been infatuated with David all her life, but whom David hardly notices till she goes away to Paris for two years and returns an elegant, sophisticated, beautiful woman. Suddenly, she finds she’s captured David’s attention, but just as she does so, she finds herself also falling in love with Linus, and she finds that Linus is also falling in love with her.
Review: This is the reason why you watch movies. This is why people feel so strongly about them, make them part of their lives, and love to talk about them. It reminds us of what is good about the movies and makes us long for a time when you can have this kind of talent, both in front of and behind the camera, make wonderful, touching, hilarious films.
Sabrina may not be the best film that Wilder, Bogart, Holden, or Hepburn made, but it came along at a time when all four of them were going through the best part of their careers.
Holden was not too far removed from winning the Oscar for Stalag 17 and was about to enter a “golden” period, starting with The Country Girl and continuing on until Bridge on the River Kwai. Bogart ( a last minute replacement for Cary Grant), had just completed The Caine Mutiny. Hepburn had just won the Oscar for Roman Holiday, and Wilder had Stalag 17 and Sunset Boulevard completed, and would have a string of hits that started with Sabrina and continue on until One, Two, Three in 1961.
All of the stars were properly aligned for Sabrina. Although I think Grant might have been better in the part, Bogart worked hard to be semi-tough and likable. I’ll be honest and say I found it disturbing to see him try to win over Hepburn. His features were too worn and hard to be completely winning. He and Holden worked well together, which is amazing when you consider they couldn’t stand each other off screen.
Hepburn, of course, is gorgeous. She’s the perfect combination of charming, elegant, tom-boyishness, and beauty.
Wilder does it again with his screenplay and directing. First he assembles an excellent supporting cast, especially Walter Hampden and John Williams. Then he keeps the comedy coming and seldom lets up for us to catch our breath. His use of the camera is terrific too. I love the shot of Bogart at his desk in the distance, while the camera shoots through several doorways.
Top notch production, first rate cast and wonderful screenplay and directing add up to a classic every movie lover should own.