Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Sabrina (1954)

Young Sabrina (Audrey Hepburn) is the daughter of the Chauffeur. She has a life long crush on the playboy son of her father's employer (William Holden), but he hardly notices her. She is sent off to Paris to learn to cook and returns with a new outlook, and the attention of the Larrabee boys.

Responsible older brother Linus (Humphrey Bogart) arranges for brother David to marry the daughter of a sugar plantation owner as part of a larger plastics deal, when David finally notices Sabrina. Linus' solution is to get David out of the way, make her fall in love with him, then ship her off to Paris again with a half-hearted apology. Nice guy this Linus.

For most of this film I was loving it. Hepburn was absolutely charming and the dialog was great. But I really struggled with Bogart as the rich, responsible, leading man-type. Also, in his mid fifties, he was creepy grandpa next to Hepburn's porcelain skin. Cary Grant was originally cast, but he turned it down. Grant was only a couple years younger than Bogart, but looked much younger and was way more appropriate for the role.

Early critics said Holden should have played the older brother and someone younger play David, and I agree. He seemed old as playboy David, and Bogart was older than the man playing Sabrina's father!

Bogart also didn't think much of Hepburn or Holden, or even Billy Wilder. He wanted wife Lauren Bacall for the lead, but I can't imagine anyone matching Hepburn's charm. In three years he would be gone.

Sabrina is rather charming and well written, but what started well ended up being a fairly generic rom-com by the third act. Maybe I'm holding the fast start or questionable casting choices against it, but there's no helping that. At worst, it's still a fine film. AMRU 3.5.
"A woman happily in love, she burns the soufflé. A woman unhappily in love, she forgets to turn on the oven."

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