“Sabrina” (1954) starring Audrey Hepburn, Humphrey Bogart, and William Holden
It was clear that when Audrey Hepburn appeared in “Roman Holiday” (1953), after a few rather unmemorable British films, she was a bonafide Hollywood star. And if there were any doubt, the release of “Sabrina” (1954) earned her top billing over two other stars—Humphrey Bogart and William Holden.
Directed by Billy Wilder, “Sabrina” has Hepburn playing a Cinderella-like character—the daughter of Fairchild (John Williams), the chauffeur for the Larrabees, a rich family on Long Island’s North Shore. She pines for the handsome ne’er-do-well son, David (a blond Bill Holden) but he and his older no-nonsense brother Linus (Humphrey Bogart) don’t give her a second glance. At least not until she returns after a year in a cooking school in Paris, all grown up and beautiful.
David is smitten with Sabrina although he is already engaged to Elizabeth (Martha Hyer). While attempting a rendezvous on the family’s indoor tennis court with Sabrina, he accidentally sits on the two champagne glasses in his pocket which promptly cut his buttocks to shreads. While he recovers, big brother Linus babysits Sabrina. They get to know each other, one thing leads to another…and well, that’s why they call it a rom-com, right?
“Sabrina” was a hit on Broadway before Wilder made it into this charming bit of romantic fluff. But it’s more than another love triangle; it’s also a story about romance across social class. As the chauffeur says, “I like to think of life as a limousine. Though we are all riding together, we must remember our places. There's a front seat and a back seat and a window in between."
The young Hepburn has never rocked a Givenchy so well. She has great chemistry with both Holden and Bogart. The latter clearly looks out of his element playing a rich WASPY businessman, although he actually did grow up rich and WASPY in Manhattan. A charming old classic that 69 years later seems as fresh as a rose. And to hear Hepburn sing “Yes We Have No Bananas” alone makes rewatching it worthwhile.
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