Sabrina (1954)


Sabrina (1954)I went into this film mainly for the direction of Billy Wilder for Sabrina (1954), not so much the female lead of Audrey Hepburn who I saw as a woman with her head in the clouds, which now is all part of her charm. My eyes are more open to her appeal as a film-star. In terms of acting my mind is yet to be made up completely.

Beginning with my old perceptions I began this film wondering where it who Sabrina Fairchild (Hepburn) would fall for, I knew this was the aim of the film, I wasn’t put off by how straight forward it appeared, knowing there was more to the longing of a chauffeurs Thomas Fairchild (John Williams) who had devoted her affections from afar for the Larrabee’s charming son David (William Holden) very much a ladies man with a big heart, who had already been through 3 marriage, not exactly good material for someone who is blind to what David may really be like.

To stop her going mad with her obsession that would never come true her father sends her away to a French cooking school to learn new skills and more importantly to get her mind of David. A very dated idea today but that doesn’t matter in the world of Hepburn who tries her best to concentrate, her mind always being thousands of miles away, until an elderly man takes her under his wing, she begins to blossom and grow as a woman.

Whilst back home in Long Island the industrial Larrabee’s are hoping to invest in the new and exciting possibilities of plastic, which is far away from the world of Paris. Lead by the hard-working Linus Larrabee (Humphrey Bogart) who will do what ever it takes to make it happen. Even marrying off his brother David to the partner companies daughter Elizabeth Tyson (Martha Hyer) who is remains oblivious to the films events. Especially when Sabrina returns home, unintentionally stirring things up. Coming back a new and confident woman, complete with new hair cut, her dreamy outlook has been pulled back to reality.

David soon rediscovers the chauffeurs daughter, a new woman stands before him, he knows she is the one. Its love at first sight for him, a dream come for a resolved Sabrina.  Spelling nothing but bad news for the plastic deal, so much is on the line. Linus steps in to start “damage limitation” ensuring the deal goes through. However he doesn’t intend to fall for the affection of Sabrina. Unwittingly a love triangle takes form and fast and only she doesn’t even know it.

Wilder again works his charm with material which would on the face of it be disgraceful and depressing. Crossing the boundaries of class to the 20th century as Linus promotes over his fathers wishes. The heart is more important, even in matters of business, as exciting as they can be. Choosing plastic a then new material which was just being discovered, here exploited for comic effect. Wilder takes the innocence of Hepburn not long out of Roman Holiday (1953) starting to mould her on already forming perception of an angel. Which he also did similarly with Marilyn Monroe. The script doesn’t so much sizzle and spit, usually tight, there is room here for a looser story to be told, it’s romance, with a spot of business to lift it up from just another romance. Satorising the class system and business in the process. It’s not has hot as some of his other works, still standing up with his others with pride. Along with interesting casting, of course William Holden had become a regular, the choice of Bogart a straight actor heading into his 3rd decade on screen, a chance that Wilder has taken before with great effect. Finally if it takes one film to start to change my mind on one actress then I’m glad it was this one to get me on my way, all courtesy of Wilder.

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