Sabrina (Billy Wilder, 1954): USA

Reviewed by Collier Grimm. Viewed on DVD.

Wilder’s 1954 classic film, Sabrina, is yet another take on the director’s fascination with the love triangle scenario. Sabrina, played by Audrey Hepburn, is a shy, awkward daughter of a chauffeur. Her father works for the wealthy Larrabee family, and Sabrina has been infatuated with David, the youngest Larrabee son, all of her life. In hopes of distracting his daughter, Sabina’s father, played by classic character actor John Williams, sends her off to cooking school in Paris.

Wilder incorporates a cooking-challenged-Hepburn montage to express Sabrina’s Parisian transformation into womanhood. Not only has Sabrina learned to cook, she has also traded in her black slacks and ballerina flats for an exquisite wardrobe designed by Edith Head, who won an Oscar for her work. Upon her return, Sabrina is finally noticed by David (William Holden) who does not realize she is the same woman who used to live above the garage. However, playboy David is already engaged, and a corporate deal with the bride’s family is in the works.

Humphrey Bogart plays Linus, the oldest Larrabee son in charge of the family business. In this film, Bogart strays from his typical rough and tough Hollywood persona, giving his best performance ever as romantic lead. Linus, hoping that his business deal won’t go to pot, keeps Sabrina as far from David as he can before the wedding. In doing so, Linus and Sabrina discover feelings for one another, and Wilder’s triangle is complete. Although not quite as gender bending as his most memorable love triangle in 1959’s Some Like It Hot, Wilder still keeps it racy as Sabrina must choose between brothers.

I highly recommend this film to any romantic movie lover, Hepburn, or Bogart fan. Hepburn won the Oscar for her performance, and she dazzles on screen in the famous black and white party-scene gown. Wilder is always very entertaining, and his plot here is full of twists and turns that will keep you on lovers’ edge until the very end. I won’t give anything away…let’s just say Sabrina keeps it all in the family.

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