Review by Brian Koller|
2½ stars out of 4
Audrey Hepburn was the daughter of a Dutch
baroness, and had youth, beauty, charm and an
exquisite accent. Since she could play the
vulnerable innocent as well, she was perfectly
suited for Cinderella-type roles.
Hepburn had a star-making role in 1953's "Roman
Holiday", in which she played a princess who
pretended to be a commoner. In her next film,
"Sabrina", she plays a chauffeur's daughter who
blossomes into a lady. The theme of changing her
social class would be used once again in her most
successful film, "My Fair Lady".
While Hepburn was well-cast for "Sabrina", she
was given two unlikely love interests. William
Holden, at 36, was only a little too old for his
role, as was the case for an earlier film also
directed by Billy Wilder, "Sunset Boulevard".
But Humphrey Bogart was 55, a full thirty years
older than Hepburn. Also, "Sabrina" was
something of a comedy, and Holden and Bogart were
not known as comedic actors.
Nonetheless, "Sabrina" was a great critical and
commercial success, cementing the reputations of
Wilder, Hepburn, and Bogart. The film was
nominated for six Academy Awards, including Best
Actress (Hepburn), Best Director (Wilder), Best
Screenplay (Wilder, Samuel Taylor, and Ernest
Lehman), and Best B & W Cinematography (Charles
Bogart and Holden play brothers who have vastly
different personalities. Linus (Bogart) has
never married and lives for work, controlling the
business empire that was founded by his father,
Oliver (Walter Hampden). David (Holden) is a
playboy who cares nothing for work and has gone
through several marriages.
Sabrina (Hepburn) is the daughter of a chauffeur
(John Williams) employed by the wealthy family.
Sabrina pines for David, who initially shows no
interest in her. Sabrina is exiled to France,
where she adopts the dress and manner of a lady.
Meanwhile, David has become engaged to the
daughter of an industrial magnate. Linus is
depending upon the marriage, as it is a
precondition of a favorable business merger.
Sabrina returns home, and catches David's eye.
To prevent the merger from falling through, Linus
begins courting Sabrina, trying to win her from
Many comic touches don't quite work. David sits
on champagne glasses. Linus puches David,
sending him rolling across a table (and somehow
coming up smiling). It isn't explained why
Sabrina would fall for Linus, unless money truly
can buy love. Holden is transfixed by Sabrina,
but then is happy to pawn her off on Linus.
There is some confusion about Oliver's character,
who sneaks drinks and smokes like a schoolboy,
yet can give a stern lecture to David. The
problems with the characters are mitigated,
however, by the graceful performances of Hepburn
"Sabrina" was remade in 1995, with Harrison
Ford taking Bogart's role.
Copyright © 1997 Brian Koller