Sunday, May 4, 2014

The Cinematic Experience - Sabrina

Sabrina, 1954

Hello Darlings and Happy May!

watch the trailer
While it is technically over, my Audrey April project went swimmingly and I had a marvelous time!  I'm happy that it will last a bit longer as I finish the posts for it, I'm hoping you are as well!  The second Audrey Hepburn film I chose, unbeknownst to me, was also the second film that she made!  What are the odds?  Seriously, while it would have been really cute to chose her first film as the first film I watched and then her second as my second, this worked its way out without any premeditation from me!  Also something that happened without my doing was this film's addition to the Library of Congress' National Film Registry in 2002.  Just as Hepburn's first Film, Roman Holiday was added to this very important list, her second was as well - it seems that she was a bonafide star from the get-go!

In this classic romantic comedy, we have a love triangle and a predictable plot where one character pretends to get involved with another for a somewhat dubious reason, only to find their feelings develop and end up truly falling in love.  We've seen it so many times before and we will see it many times again, but this film truly does it right!

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The film stars Audrey Hepburn as Sabrina Fairchild, the daughter of the chauffeur to one of the wealthiest families in New York, the Larrabees.  The film opens on the night of the annual Larrabee party.  "It never rained on the Larrabee party, the Larrabees wouldn't have stood for it."  Sabrina has been living in the apartment above the garage with her father since she was a child.  Mr. and Mrs. Larrabee have two sons - Linus, played by Humphrey Bogart was voted the man most likely to "leave his alma mater $50 million", and David, played by William Holden, who "went through several of the best eastern colleges for short periods of time and several marriages for even shorter periods of time."  Translation - David is a definite play boy...and kind of a man-whore.

Linus and David could not be any more different.  While Linus is a serious businessman, David has not a care in the world.  Currently, he plays semi-professional polo, although we have no proof of that.  The only thing we do have proof of is that he likes the ladies.  On the night of the party, he is dancing with a vapid, irritating woman who does nothing but giggle.  Sabrina watches the party from her vantage point in a tree (obviously 'the help' is not invited) and tells her father "I hate girls who giggle all the time."  He responds with, "You hate every girl that David looks at."  And David is probably the only person who is unaware that Sabrina has been in love with him for years.

Sabrina is scheduled to go Paris in the morning, but she is so distraught after watching David play out his tried and true seduction routine with Giggle Girl, that she closes herself up in the garage and starts all eight cars parked inside.  Linus hears all the commotion and, unknowingly, puts an end to her plan to end her life.  And she goes to Paris.  Sabrina's father sends her to culinary school, but the added bonus is to get her away from David in hopes that out of sight truly is out of mind so that she can move on.

Though it is short, one of my favorite parts of the film is when the instructor tells the class that they should execute the eggs quickly, "like with the guillotine.  Tzack!"

While in Paris, Sabrina sends letters back home and it is clear that the distance has not done much to put an end to her feelings for David.  In her cooking class, she befriends an older man who notices her undercooked soufflé.  "Your mind has been elsewhere...A woman happy in love, she burns the soufflé.  A woman unhappy in love, she forgets to turn on the oven."

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It is also this man who gives Sabrina some advice.  He tells her, "You need to stop looking like a horse."  So she cuts off her ponytail.  Which established that Audrey Hepburn does a Hollywood makeover like no one else!  After two years in Paris, Sabrina has a new hairdo, a new wardrobe, a new outlook on life, a newfound confidence, and a new poodle named David.

She returns home and is waiting for her father at the train station when David drives by, spots her, and turns the car around.  It does not take long for us to realize that David has absolutely no idea who Sabrina is, and she has quite a fun time keeping her identity from him.  It is during this ride back to the house that David 'falls in love with her.'  Right.  We all know what this guy is thinking, but Sabrina eats it up like a starving woman at a buffet.  Though it's a bit hard to blame her...she is finally getting the response from him that she's been aching for for years.  He even invites her to the annual Larrabee party that evening.
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While Sabrina was away, David had been seeing a woman named Elizabeth.  Elizabeth is the daughter of a plastics manufacturer and, as Linus is trying to put together a merger, he is pushing for a wedding.  So much so, that he places an engagement announcement in the paper.  Understandably David is upset and marches into Linus' office to confront him.
"I'm supposed to be offered up as a human sacrifice on the alter of industrial progress, is that it?"
"You make it sound so vulgar, David, as if the son of the hot dog dynasty were being offered in marriage to the daughter of the mustard king.  Surely you don't object to Elizabeth just because her father happens to have $20 million?  That's very narrow-minded of you."
David asks Linus why HE doesn't marry Elizabeth and asks, "You want to die an old maid?"
"I was just thinking if I were ever to get married, I'd have to take a Dictaphone, two secretaries, and four corporation counselors along on the Honeymoon.  I'd be unfaithful to my wife every night of my life with vice presidents, boards of directors, slide rule accountants...THIS is my home.  No wife would ever understand it."

So the engagement stands.  And when David sees Sabrina in the now iconic white and black Givenchy dress at the party that evening, he spills a drink on his fiancé to buy some alone time with Sabrina.  While they are dancing cheek to cheek, he murmurs to her, "Sabrina, Sabrina, where have you been all my life?"  To which she responds, "Right over the garage." in classic Audrey fashion.

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David's father gets very upset when he learns that David wants to call off the engagement to Elizabeth. "I'm gelling you Linus, the boy should be thrown out of the family!  I'm not saying that all Larrabees have been saints, there was a Thomas Larrabee that was hung for piracy and there was a Benjamin Larrabee who was a slave trader and there was a Joshua Larrabee who was shot in Indiana while attempting to rob a train, but there never was a Larrabee who behaved as David Larrabee has behaved here tonight!"  David was planning on pulling the whole seduction routine that he used on Giggle Girl on Sabrina.  This routine involved tucking one champagne flute in each of his back pockets, grabbing a bottle of bubbly, and sneaking away from the party out to the tennis court.  Linus is fully aware of this game and, in all the commotion with their father, Linus gets David to sit down which breaks the glasses and embeds his backside with hundreds of shards of glass.

Pretending to be on David's side, Linus takes it upon himself to keep Sabrina occupied while David is recuperating from his injuries.  His goal is to flirt shamelessly with her, get her to fall for him, and prove that Sabrina isn't really in love with David so that he will go through with his wedding to Elizabeth.  Linus establishes that he is aware of how much older he is than she when he takes a look in the mirror after putting on a college sweater and says, "Look at me, Joe College with a touch of arthritis!"  On the first day of 'keeping her entertained,' he takes her sailing.  And that is the first time that they share a connection and she starts to crack through his tough outer shell.  This young woman is definitely NOT what Linus expected!

A few days later, they go for a drive and this drive is very different from when David brought Sabrina home from the train station.  This one is between two people who are trying to feel each other out and who are actually connecting rather than the shameless flirting of two people who only appreciate the way the other one looks.  There's a sadness but a playfulness to this drive, and as much as Linus thinks he's playing a part, the fact that he is softening under her innocent, genuine charm is undeniable.

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Not only does Linus try to deny the feelings he's developed for Sabrina, but she is fighting them as well.  Do they give into temptation?  Does she go running back into David's arms once he's all healed up?  If you've never seen this movie, you will need to watch and find out - you will be left guessing until the VERY end!

-While Cary Grant passed on the part of Joe Bradley in Roman Holiday because he felt he was too old to play opposite Audrey Hepburn, he accepted the part of Linus, but dropped out only a week prior to shooting.

-Humphrey Bogart was so unhappy with his decision to take this part that was so unlike the roles he'd been taking that he behaved very badly towards Billy Wilder, the director, and to Audrey Hepburn, who he said was too inexperienced.  Years later, apologized to Wilder for it.

-Audrey Hepburn and William Holden fell in love during the filming.  It was rumored that Hepburn broke it off after learning that Holden could not have children.

-Billy Wilder had already decided on his next project, The Seven Year Itch, which was mentioned twice in this film.

-Edith Head designed Audrey Hepburn's costumes for the scenes prior to going to Paris.  Givenchy designed the ones she wore after she returned.

-Audrey Hepburn personally called Hubert de Givenchy to ask him to design the clothing for this film.  He only took the call because he believed it was Katharine Hepburn, but Audrey charmed him into helping her.  Sabrina was the beginning of a very long relationship between the two.

-The film was nominated for six Academy Awards - Audrey Hepburn for Best Actress, Billy Wilder for Best Director, and Edith Head for Best Costume Design Black and White.  It was also nominated for Best Screenplay, Best Cinematography, and Best Art Direction/Set Direction.  Only Edith Head won and although she was not responsible for all the costumes, she accepted the award.

We have one more movie for Audrey April, I hope you're excited!!

Haven't seen this film?  You may want to remedy that.  And soon!  Happy Viewing Darlings!

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