Movie Critique - Sabrina

For review of all movies starring Humphrey Bogart, go here.

Stars: 3 / 5

Recommendation: It is a charming romantic movie with some beautiful outfits by Hepburn, and comedy popping up at every turn of the plot. 

Sabrina is a 1954 American romantic-comedy drama directed and produced by Billy Wilder. It was released as Sabrina Fair/La Vie en Rose in United Kingdom. It stars Humphrey Bogart, Audrey Hepburn, William Holden, John Williams, Walter Hampden and Nella Walker in the lead cast among others. 

Sabrina Fairchild (portrayed by Audrey Hepburn), the daughter of Larrabee family's chauffeur, Thomas Fairchild (portrayed by John Williams), has been in love all her life with David Larrabee (portrayed by William Holden), the younger of the two Larrabee sons. However, David ignores her completely. She leaves to France to attend Le Cordon Bleu, disheartened, but returns a sophisticated and attractive woman. Now both brothers - Linus Larrabee (portrayed by Humphrey Bogart) and David - fall for her. 

The film was adapted from the 1953 play Sabrina Fair by Samuel A. Taylor. Screenplay for the film was written by Billy Wilder, Ernest Lehman and Taylor himself. The film opens with Audrey Hepburn's character Sabrina telling the tale of her character.

Bogart's role is quite different from all the other roles he had done up until then. Instead of being casted as a tough guy or a villain or a cynical hero, he is made into a smart businessman gradually changing into a romantic lead. Despite Bogart hating this role, the film proved a successful hit for him.

Edith Head won an Oscar for Best Costume Design - Black-and-White for the costumes she designed for Audrey Hepburn including the iconic black cocktail dress. Although it is rumored that all of her outfits were created by Hubert de Givenchy instead. The iconic black cocktail dress's high neckline became to be known as "Sabrina neckline" in the fashion world. Here are some of the costumes that Hepburn wears in the movie.

And her iconic black cocktail dress.

Co-stars Audrey Hepburn and William Holden were involved in a real-life passionate affair during the filming of this movie, but subsequently they broke up. Incidentally both actors died at the age of 63 - Hepburn died on January 20, 1993; Holden died on November 12, 1981.

William Holden made a very charming playboy David Larrabee in the film. I can see how Audrey Hepburn could have been swept off her feet by him in real-life as well. However it was Bogart who shined bright even if this was him acting while he was going through his health and personal life issues on the side. 

This is the second film in which Audrey Hepburn cuts her hair to look older, matured and sophisticated. She did the same in the 1953 American romantic comedy Roman Holiday. After watching the film, Audrey Hepburn reminded me of Hindi Indian language actress Sadhana Shivadasani more so because her signature haircut called "Sadhana Cut" was inspired by Audrey Hepburn's very own style. Sadhana Cut was introduced first to Indian silver screen in the 1960 romantic Hindi film Love in Simla. 

As much as I am a huge fan of Sadhana, the Indian actress, I have never been much of a fan of Audrey Hepburn. I remember watching one of her films, the 1966 American heist comedy film How To Steal a Million. Yes, she is considered one of the talented actresses, and has received several awards and nominations including a Best Actress Oscar for the 1953 Roman Holiday. Yet, somehow she always came across as plastic, unreal and with stage emotions rather than real. May be its just my opinion. 

This is also the first of four films that Hepburn would act in which her character would be linked romantically to a man who is old enough to be her father in real-life. In this film one of her romantic interest, Linus, portrayed by Humphrey Bogart was 53 years while Hepburn was 24 years at the time of the filming of this movie.

John Williams who plays the part of Sabrina's father, Thomas Fairchild, is a famous British stage, film and television actor. I remember him for his role as Chief Inspector Hubbard in the 1954 American crime mystery psychological thriller Dial M for Murder, an Alfred Hitchcock film.

What irritated me is the foolish way Hepburn's character Sabrina loves a guy who breaks every girl's heart he meets, who is a playboy through and through. It's like Sabina doesn’t want to grow up and remove the rose colored glasses from her eyes and look at the real world. The character didn’t want to change or seek the truth at all for the better half of the film. That irritated me the most in the film. 

Although not a straight forward musical, the film does come with some lovely songs. In the background. Hepburn even sings one French song titled La Vie en Rose in the film. Music composed by Louiguy to the Lyrics penned by Édith Piaf. Here is the video of the same.

A tale of two brothers pitted against each other in pursuing a girl's heart while the girl's heart does a pendulum between the two brothers. One a playboy and the other a smart and shrewd businessman. It is a charming romantic movie with some beautiful outfits by Hepburn, and comedy popping up at every turn of the plot. 

Spoiler Alerts:

1) Movie Trivia:

a. This was Billy Wilder's last film for Paramount Pictures.

b. The film was remade in 1995 with the same name with Harrison Ford, Julia Ormond and Greg Kinnear in the roles played by Bogart, Hepburn and Holden in the original film. Sydney Pollack directed the film.

c. The film was adapted to several Indian languages - 1961 Tamil language Manipanthal starring S. S. Rajendran, B. Saroja Devi and S. A. Ashokan; 1961 Telugu language Intiki Deepam Illalu starring N. T. Rama Rao, B. Saroja Devi and Jaggayya; inspired the 1944 Hindi language Yeh Dillagi starring Akshay Kumar, Kajol and Saif Ali Khan. 

d. There is a rocking chair in Sabrina's room which is exactly like the one in the 1967 American psychological thriller Wait Until Dark which also starred Audrey Hepburn.

e. Linus and Sabrina discuss about a Viennese Operetta in which a prince falls in love the waitress at the rathskeller, and the prime minister is sent to buy her off. Wonder what that operetta was titled?

f. Linus plans to take Sabrina to watch a play titled "The Seven Year Itch" which would become Billy Wilder's next project.

2) Grammatical / Historical / Location / Character Errors:

a. Sabrina leaves a suicide note for her father. But she is rescued by Linus and goes to Paris. However she never retrieves her suicide note nor does her father Thomas ever find it.

b. Note that the scene shows snow fall in Paris. However the snow is seen only on the terrace of the cooking school and the window pane. If you look far into the streets and near Eiffel Tower there is no snow. 

c. Note the height of the Soufflé in the hand of the third chef from the right. It is very tall. But the very next scene when the teacher is examining them, it's size remarkably reduces. 

d. Linus is showing David how the plastic they manufacture at Larrabee's doesn’t burn or scorch. Yet when he turns the plastic cover over you can see a giant black spot visible. And in the very next shot it goes invisible. 

e. The passage tickets to Paris show the date as September 15, Thursday. But neither in 1952 or 1953 or 1954 did September 15 fall on a Thursday.

f. Towards the end of the film, when Linus is dismissing his secretary he inadvertently calls her "Miss McCartney". Her character name is actually Miss McCardle (portrayed by Ellen Corby).


default userpic

Your reply will be screened

Your IP address will be recorded 

When you submit the form an invisible reCAPTCHA check will be performed.
You must follow the Privacy Policy and Google Terms of use.