The classic Billy Wilder film Sabrina appeared on TCM (Turner Classic Movies) while I was at my sister’s house on a rainy evening. I had seen the movie in the past, and was quickly drawn into the story once again. A bonus was that there were no commercials on TCM during the film. It stars the lovely Audrey Hepburn, Hollywood star Humphrey Bogart, and bad boy William Holden.
Sabrina is a rags to riches kind of tale from 1954, predating, or perhaps foreshadowing, the ever-popular Pretty Woman (1990) kind of Cinderella story. But Sabrina is not a hooker like Julia Roberts character Vivian. Sabrina Fairchild is instead, the daughter of a rich family’s chauffeur in a time when the working class did not associate with the much wealthier family they served.
David Larrabee (William Holden) is a playboy kind of guy who barely works in his family’s business, and is much more interested in charming the giggling spoiled young girls who frequent their parties and clubs. Linus (Humphrey Bogart) is his responsible older brother who effectively holds the family fortunes together in his controlling and workaholic manner.
Sabrina has had a crush on David since she was a small girl. She is sent away to Paris in an effort it seems to both get her over him and to learn a trade. But when she returns as a sophisticated young woman, whom Audrey Hepburn played so well, David zeros in on her.
This disrupts the family, and Linus sets about seeing that David and Sabrina are kept apart. What happens during his efforts to occupy Sabrina’s time is not wholly unexpected.
The film won an Academy Award for Best Costume Design for a Black-and-White film for Edith Head. She won eight Academy Awards for Best Costume Design during her illustrious career, for everything from Roman Holiday to The Sting. If you like fashion, you’ll really enjoy the elegance of the gowns and really anything Audrey is wearing on her impossibly skinny frame. Sabrina won Best Screenplay at the Golden Globes for Billy Wilder, Samuel A. Taylor and Ernest Lehman. Billy Wilder is known by movie buffs as being the award winning director and screenwriter for such films as The Lost Weekend, Sunset Blvd., and The Apartment. Billy Wilder has here written a flawless screenplay romance that I appreciated very much.
I never thought Humphrey Bogart was all that handsome of a leading man, but apparently he was quite the Hollywood star in his time. After all, Lauren Bacall fell for him head over heels. He is charming, as is William Holden. I recognized Nancy Kulp (Jane Hathaway in The Beverly Hillbillies) who had a small role as a maid.
Many years later, in 1995, the film was remade and I intend to watch it again and review it on these pages. It stars Julia Ormond as Sabrina, Harrison Ford as the responsible brother, and Greg Kinnear as the charming younger brother. Until then, you may want to find the original romantic comedy of Sabrina for yourself.