Sabrina (1954)

The aura doesn’t diminish, and Sabrina Fairchild’s role will be an all-time favourite character of mine. Surprisingly, this was the first Humphrey Bogart movie I saw. Well, the well-known films of his were all before this movie.

Audrey Hepburn overnight became one of my favourite actresses is because of this movie. The role of Sabrina has such innocence that one would fall in love with her immediately.

The story goes this way, as narrated by Sabrina.

Once upon a time, on the north shore of Long Island, some 30 miles from New York, there lived a small girl on a large estate. The estate was very large indeed and had many servants. There were gardeners to take care of the gardens and a tree surgeon on a retainer. There was a boatman to take care of the boats: to put them in the water in the spring and scrape their bottoms in the winter. There were specialists to take care of the grounds: the outdoor tennis court and the indoor tennis court, the outdoor swimming pool, and the indoor swimming pool. And there was a man of no particular title who took care of a small pool in the garden for a goldfish named George. On the estate, there was a chauffeur named Fairchild, who had been imported from England, years ago, together with a new Rolls Royce.

Fairchild was a fine chauffeur of considerable polish, like the eight cars in his care, and he had a daughter by the name of Sabrina. It was the eve of the annual six-meter yacht races, and as had been a tradition on Long Island for the past 30 years, the Larrabees were giving a party. It never rained on the night of the Larrabee party; the Larrabees wouldn’t have stood for it. There were four Larrabees in all: father, mother, and two sons.

Maude and Oliver Larrabee were married in nineteen hundred and six and among their many wedding presents was a townhouse in New York and this estate for weekends. The townhouse has since been converted into Saks Fifth Avenue. The elder son, Linus Larrabee, graduated from Yale, where his classmates voted him the man Most Likely to leave his Alma Mater Fifty Million Dollars. His brother, David, went through several of the best eastern colleges for short periods and several marriages for an even shorter time. He is now a successful six-goal polo player and is listed on Linus’s tax return as a six hundred dollar deduction. Life was pleasant among the Larrabees, for this was as close to heaven as one could get on Long Island.

Sabrina, since childhood, was fascinated with David (played by William Holden). He hardly notices her but still cannot keep an eye off him.

When things hardly seem to move, she is sent to Paris to a cooking school to take her mom’s place as a cook in the estate. In Paris, she undergoes many changes intellectually, and when she is back to Long Island, she returns as a gorgeous lady. That’s the magic of Paris!

One scene that attracts is when Sabrina, while she waits for a cab, is noticed by David and offers her to give a lift without realizing she was Sabrina, the chauffeur’s daughter.

Oh, Hello… How are you??? asks Sabrina

Hello…. I am fine… How are you? I mean, who are you? David replies….

All this time, Sabrina was warned that she was trying to reach the moon. She believed the moon was trying to get her after her transformation.

The rich and poor status quo comes in between, and this is when Linus (Humphrey Bogart), brother of David, steps in to resolve it.

Rest is something; I would love the movie to narrate because some of the best dialogues and scenes are reserved for Sabrina and Linus.

Linus Larrabee: [while slow dancing with Sabrina] How do you say my sister has a yellow pencil in French?
Sabrina Fairchild: Ma soeur a un crayon jaune.
Linus Larrabee: How do you say my brother has a lovely girl?
Sabrina Fairchild: Mon frere a une gentille petite amie.
Linus Larrabee: And how do you say I wish I were my brother?

Sabrina was the first movie I watched of Audrey Hepburn. Cary Grant refused the role, and Bogie was a late replacement for him.

This movie was later made in 1995 with the same name, starring Harrison Ford playing Linus, Julia Ormond playing Sabrina, and Greg Kinnear playing David.

This is not all; the 1994 Bollywood movie “Yeh Dillagi” was inspired by the 1954 film. Scene to scene, one can see the resemblance. Kajol, playing the title role of Sabrina, while Saif Ali Khan plays David and Akshay Kumar playing Linus.

Directed by Billy Wilder, this 1954 movie earned Audrey Hepburn an Oscar nomination for best actress. Her haircut became a sensation. This movie managed to bag the Best Costume design (B/W) Oscar nevertheless.