I don’t know how you can ignore Audrey Hepburn before she goes to Paris, impossible I say!
Screenplay By: Ernest Lehman, Samuel A. Taylor & Billy Wilder
Directed By: Billy Wilder
Every once in a while you need to watch a lighthearted movie with slight social commentary under its surface. Sabrina is one such movie, it is the lightest of takes on the Cinderella story while also containing slight bits of social commentary. Audrey Hepburn is gorgeous, Humphrey Bogart is brittle yet just waiting to be cracked open and William Holden is charming and full of himself. The dialogue is funny, sly and witty, and the direction is typical Wilder, simple and to the point but also full of visual delights.
The social commentary in Sabrina isn’t touched on too much and a lot of people may miss it if they don’t want to look for it. Wilder takes jabs at the tired and true social foundations of the wealthy versus the not as financially inclined, love as a concept and most of all love versus achievement in the world or whether or not success can make you happy to put it better. Bogart as Lionel is very successful, and he appears to be happy. But, the moment he begins to realize he is in love with Sabrina his success feels hollow and so does his life as a result. The old adage is that love conquers all, and in very non-Wilder, read not cynical, fashion love conquers any dreams of financial or business success that Lionel may have still harbored. The other ideas, love as a concept and the wealthy versus the non-wealthy aren’t given as much time, but they are still briefly looked at and given a once over.
The only failings in Sabrina aren’t all that much of failings, it is a story that has been done numerous times throughout history and there is the Hepburn factor. The Cinderella model of the poor girl redone into a princess has been around for ages and for as great as it is Sabrina doesn’t tread any new ground with the battle tested mythos. I also have a bit of a hard time envisioning any scenario where pre-Paris Sabrina would not be looked upon as a beauty by David or Lionel, because even when they try to smudge her up and downplay her beauty, Audrey Hepburn is Audrey Hepburn and is simply gorgeous. However, the acting is good throughout, it’s a very whimsical tale and moves at a very swift pace, taking you along for a very enjoyable ride that overcomes by a wide margin any pitfalls it may house.
Sabrina is very light, it’s a breeze to watch and it flies by fast mainly due to how light it is in tone and in the way it takes on any of the above social issues. Watching Hepburn in any good romantic comedy is always a treat, but pairing her with such stalwarts as Holden and Bogart made Sabrina even more of a treat than her usual romantic comedy fare. I’ve heard the remake is pretty good as well, but it doesn’t have Hepburn and that’s why if you need to see one version of Sabrina make this the one you check out.