SABRINA was a hit with both public and critics in 1954 and remains amusing today. That’s courtesy of the three stars, their director and the frothy, sophisticated script they got to play with.
Humphrey Bogart and William Holden are millionaire brothers who both become besotted with their chauffeur’s daughter, essayed with typical sublime charm by Audrey Hepburn. Bogie is the more responsible, seemingly stuffier fellow, Bill the carefree playboy. Will the sprite choose wisely?
Billy Wilder directed and co-wrote with Samuel Taylor and Ernest Lehman, so the dialogue is bright and the $2,239,000 production moves along its 113 minutes with polish. Walter Hampden, as the father of the bachelors, is darned funny; his martini-mixing scene is a classic.
It’s a treat to see Bogart display a flair for light satire, more so in view that he didn’t enjoy working on the film and hated Holden: “He’s a dumb prick.” He had a strange grudge that he’d held against the younger actor since they’d worked together in 1939’s Invisible Stripes. Holden could never figure it out, but he return volleyed his dislike, “I hated the bastard.” Hepburn was caught in the middle, also getting flack from Bogart (he dished it out to everyone on the set) who may have been a bit disposed against the actress because she was having a passionate off-camera fling with enemy Holden. Holden ever after referred to her as the “love of my life”. Yes, fansters, of such torrid flames are legendary feud fires stoked.
Personnel battles and dressing room romances aside, it all worked. The Costume Design swept away an Oscar and there were nominations for Best Actress (Hepburn), Director, Screenplay, Cinematography and Art Direction. Crowds filed in to the jingle of $8,800,000 here at home, # 18 for the year, with more tallied overseas.
Also featuring John Williams, Martha Hyer, Ellen Corby, Marcel Hillaire, Marcel Dalio, Francis X. Bushman and Nancy Kulp.