Sabrina (1954)

“I want him; I’ve been in love with him all my life.”

Synopsis:
The daughter (Audrey Hepburn) of the chauffeur (John Williams) for a family of wealthy industrialists is sent to cooking school in Paris, where she continues to pine away for the family’s playboy son, David (William Holden). Upon her return, David — despite being strategically engaged to the daughter (Martha Hyer) of another industrialist scion — is suddenly smitten by Hepburn’s chic transformation, and vows to marry her; but his more practical older brother (Humphrey Bogart) is determined to intervene.

Genres:

Response to Peary’s Review:
Peary begins his review of this “Billy Wilder comedy” — adapted from a Samuel Taylor play — by noting that “only in America could the daughter of a mere chauffeur be courted by not one but two millionaires and have the opportunity to marry into an established Eastern family. Sure, sure — if you happen to have the beauty and charm of Audrey Hepburn”. Indeed, it’s Hepburn’s undeniable charisma — and flattering appearance in Givenchy, her designer of choice — that fuel this “Hollywood fluff”, which will appeal most “to those who prefer glamour to content, actors to characters”. The storyline itself is pure fairy tale — and as Peary notes, “Hepburn, of course, is ideal, once again playing a variation on Cinderella”, an archetype she portrayed to cinematic perfection throughout the 1950s. Unfortunately, other than Hepburn, there’s precious little else to hold on to here, given that Sabrina’s schoolgirl crush on David (while understandable) is so clearly wrong-headed, Bogart’s “self-sacrificing” character remains a cypher throughout, and the romantic direction things eventually go in doesn’t make much sense. Film fanatics will be primarily interested in this one simply to see Hepburn at her loveliest — and to catch a glimpse of some truly stunning Givenchy gowns.

Redeeming Qualities and Moments:

  • Audrey Hepburn as Sabrina
  • Lovely Givenchy dresses

  • Charles Lang’s cinematography

Must See?
No, though it’s recommended, and famous enough that most film fanatics will probably be curious to at least check it out.

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One Response to “Sabrina (1954)”

  1. Not a must.

    ~and not among director Wilder’s best work. It’s harmless enough, I suppose…as a 1950s date flick, and little more than that. But it seems the best that can be said of it is that Hepburn fans won’t be disappointed – if they have tuned in just to see her. This is her immediate follow-up to her raging success in ‘Roman Holiday’, and those who loved her in that will no doubt love her in this. Personally, I find it slightly tedious.

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