Senior HTF Member
- Apr 24, 2006
- Charlotte, NC
- Real Name
- Matt Hough
Sabrina: Centennial Collection Directed by Billy Wilder Studio: Paramount Year: 1954 Aspect Ratio: 1.37:1 Running Time: 112 minutes Rating: NR Audio: Dolby Digital 2.0 mono English, French, Spanish Subtitles: English, French, Spanish MSRP: $ 24.99 Release Date: November 11, 2008 Review Date: November 3, 2008
4.5/5Billy Wilder’s Sabrina is a cool glass of cinematic champagne. It’s a bubbly, utterly sophisticated romantic comedy featuring three movie stars whose collective charisma could jump start a dozen other similar pictures alone. Together, they make movie magic guided by one of the real masters of elegant filmic fairy tales. Sabrina Fairchild, the daughter of the millionaire Larrabee family’s chauffeur (John Williams), has loved the playboy Larrabee brother David (William Holden) her entire life, but being the child of a servant didn’t exactly put her in David’s sights. After a two year stint in Paris studying the culinary arts and being taken under the wing of an elderly baron (Marcel Dalio), Sabrina returns home a polished, sophisticated woman, one who knocks the engaged David on his ear. But David’s engagement to a sugar cane heiress (Martha Hyer) is partly business motivated, and David’s business-minded brother Linus (Humphrey Bogart) isn’t about to let anyone stand in the way of a financial merger that could spell millions for the family. However, the dour, soulless Linus finds himself being drawn to Sabrina, so the sticky triangle that develops couldn’t be any messier than one of Sabrina’s failed soufflés. The screenplay for Sabrina was based on Samuel Taylor’s hit Broadway play Sabrina Fair, but Wilder has added some tantalizing spice to this ugly duckling yarn (assisted by screenwriter Ernest Lehman) which keeps the fizzy dialog continually witty and filled with great lines. He’s done some wonderful things with the camera, too, such as shooting part of a scene through the clear plastic of a hammock David is lying in or shooting from high above a couple dancing on a darkened indoor tennis court brightened only by moonlight. The cynical Wilder of A Foreign Affair and Ace in the Hole seems eons away when Hepburn makes her stunning debut at the party in a Givenchy ball gown that puts Cinderella to shame, and her subsequent enchantment at being in David‘s arms slow dancing to “I Don‘t Want to Walk Without You” and “Lover” just breathes romance, perhaps the most purely and sentimentally amorous sequence in Wilder‘s entire oeuvre. Humphrey Bogart was a last minute replacement for Cary Grant in the role of Linus, and, truth to tell, he’s miscast in a romantic comedy of this ilk, at least at this stage of his career. He seems less than committed at certain moments as well, never quite getting into the sparkling mood of the piece. William Holden (who pundits say was despised by Bogart in real life and which made filming difficult) is a much better fit as David, casually charming and handsome enough to imagine Sabrina being swept off of her feet. But the picture truly belongs to Audrey Hepburn. Transforming from an unsophisticated doe-eyed schoolgirl with an annoying crush to a heart-stopping sophisticate with a gamin quality that would make most men rush to protect her, Hepburn’s total ease and believability in both guises is still astonishing to watch even after seeing so many other fantastic performances of hers on screen. Little wonder that the world took her to its heart after her work in Roman Holiday and in this marvelous follow-up vehicle. John Williams does his droll best as her starchy father, and Walter Hampden has some marvelous moments as the Larrabee paterfamilias constantly sneaking off to have a cigar and a cold martini (with olives). Charming stars, witty dialog, and expert direction make Sabrina one of the real romantic gems of the 1950s, as enjoyable today as it was more than fifty years ago.
4.5/5According to HTF theatrical aspect ratio expert Jack Theakston, Sabrina was intended to be shown theatrically at 1.75:1. However, this disc as well as every other home video release of Sabrina I’ve ever seen has framed it at 4:3. Clearly there is too much head room, and one can only imagine how splendid a widescreen anamorphically enhanced version of this movie would look. As it is, however, this is a gorgeous transfer without a single age-related spot or speck to be seen. Sharpness is ideal, and the grayscale is so rich as to be breathtaking. In comparison to the 2001 release in the Audrey Hepburn Collection, this new transfer is much cleaner and offers slightly more contrast making for a better defined image and with a deeper sense of depth to the picture. The film has been divided into 14 chapters.
3.5/5The Dolby Digital 2.0 mono sound is decoded by Dolby Prologic into the center channel. There are no age related instances of hiss, pops, crackle, or flutter in the audio, and while there might have been a little more bass in the mix, the sound is certainly typical of the sound mixes of the era.
3.5/5The bonus features contained on disc two are all in anamorphic widescreen except where noted. “Audrey Hepburn: Fashion Icon” features a host of designers discussing Hepburn’s sense of fashion in her films and in real life. Two designers, Eduardo Lucero and Trina Tirk, present new creations inspired by Audrey in her various films. This featurette runs 17 ½ minutes. “Sabrina’s World” is an 11 ¼-minute mini-history of the Gold Coast area of Long Island, specifically Glen Cove, where Sabrina takes place. This luxurious resort area was home to the likes of the Astors, Vanderbilts, Woolworths, Morgans, and many of our country’s wealthiest families, and photographs and movie footage of some of the grandiose estates make for fascinating viewing. “Supporting Sabrina” offers mini-biographies of several of the famous character actors who were a part of the film’s cast. Profiled are John Williams, Ellen Corby, Nancy Kulp, Marcel Dalio, Walter Hampden, Francis X. Bushman, and Martha Hyer. This feature runs 16 ½ minutes. “William Holden: The Paramount Years” profiles the life and career of William Holden with excerpts from many of his Paramount films. Stephanie Powers, Bob Thomas, A.C. Lyles, and Patricia Crowley all offer warm recollections on him as a man and an actor. The featurette runs 29 ¾ minutes. “Audrey Hepburn: In Her Own Words” is something of a misnomer. This is actually a making-of featurette on the film which runs for 11 ¾ minutes and is presented in 4:3. “Behind the Gates: Camera” is an entertaining mini-lesson on the history of cameras used at the studio from the hand-cranked Bell and Howells through the Mitchell cameras and into the Vistavision years. We’re given a tour of the storage facility at Paramount and shown several of the cameras discussed in the featurette. It’s much too short at 5 minutes in length. It’s also presented in 4:3. “Paramount in the 50s” is the overly familiar 9 ½ minute documentary on the studio’s hit films of that decade, all of which are coincidentally available on DVD. The disc offers four photo galleries which the viewer can step through. Photographs are grouped by behind-the-scenes production shots, movie stills, publicity portraits, and pictures taken at the Hollywood premiere of the picture. On disc one is a preview trailer for the latest DVD release of It’s a Wonderful Life. There is an enclosed 5-page booklet featuring some stills from the movie and some liner notes on the film.
4.5/5 (not an average)A sparkling romantic comedy cum fairy tale, Sabrina is a film to be savored over and over again. This edition offers the movie in the best presentation it’s yet had and comes highly recommended. Matt Hough Charlotte, NC