Movie Review: SABRINA, 1954. Directed by Billy Wilder

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Movie Reviews

Directed by Billy Wilder
Starring: Humphrey Bogart, Audrey Hepburn, William Holden
Review by Steve Painter


A playboy becomes interested in the daughter of his family’s chauffeur. But it’s his more serious brother who would be the better man for her.

OSCAR winner for Best Costume Design


REVIEW: The story of Cinderella is not new. It has been told and retold in books, movies, plays and whatever other forms a story can be told in. It has been modernized at times, but the story is essentially the same. A girl who doesn’t belong at the ball is able to win over the handsome prince. In 1954 Billy Wilder made Sabrina, another one of the Cinderella movies, except this time the girl doesn’t fall for Prince Charming. Instead she falls for his brother.

Audrey Hepburn plays Sabrina Fairchild a chauffeur’s daughter. She lives with her father over the garage of the Larrabee family. For her whole life she has fantasized about getting to attend one of the family’s famous parties and to be able to dance with the family’s youngest son, David. But David has never given her so much as a look.

On the eve of her leaving to a cooking school in Paris, the Larrabee’s have their huge party. Once again David does not notice Sabrina. Unable to live with the thought of her love not noticing her, Sabrina thinks she will commit suicide. She is unsuccessful however, as the older Larrabee brother, Linus, saves her from poisoning herself after she turns on every car in the Larrabee garage.

Sabrina makes it to Paris where she struggles at the cooking school, but meets a wonderful old Baron who teaches her to be cultured. A few months later Sabrina returns home. Her father is supposed to pick her up at the train station, but he is delayed. David happens to be driving by the station and finally notices Sabrina, although he doesn’t know who she is. It is only when Sabrina arrives back at his house that David notices the major change in her.

Because of this, David finally falls for Sabrina, but that is not the end of the movie. It happens that the Larrabees are a big business family. Linus has made a huge deal for a new plastic. The only problem is a cheap sugarcane source. Luckily Linus and the sugarcane king agree that it would be best if David married the king’s daughter.

David doesn’t like this at all, but when he accidentally sits on some champagne glasses, he is unable to continue his pursuit of Sabrina. Instead, Linus takes over the seduction of the girl, in an effort to ensure that her feelings for David don’t mess up the deal.

Sabrina ends up falling in love with Linus. Although it takes a punch from David at the end of the movie, Linus finally admits that he loves Sabrina. Everything ends happily as the business deal is saved and Linus and Sabrina head to Paris on an ocean liner.

Although Sabrina and David to not get together on screen, Hepburn and William Holden, who played David, had a brief romance in real life during the filming of the movie. This did not seem to bother Wilder any since he was good friends with both of them.

Originally Cary Grant was supposed to play the role of Linus, but like he did several times in his career, he turned Wilder down when the part was offered to him. So Humphrey Bogart, who did not like the fact that he was the second choice or the fact that Wilder was good friends with Hepburn, Holden and Grant, got the role of Linus.

There was plenty of tension on the set, not just between Wilder and Bogie. Bogie disliked Hepburn because she couldn’t remember her lines. Bogie’s personality of being of needler did not rub Holden the right way either. Despite all these problems behind the scenes, the product turned out is top notch.

Although it might seem odd that Hepburn falls for Bogie instead of Holden, even Bogie questioned why this happened, it gives the Cinderella fairytale a different spin. Prince Charming isn’t exactly that charming, but sometimes real life isn’t like a fairytale.

The movie was remade in 1995 with a lot less talented people involved. If you are going to watch a version of the movie, make sure it is the black and white one from 1954.


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