on 10 October 2013
SABRINA  [Blu-ray] The Fairest Lady of All Audrey Hepburn! In One Her Most Lavish, Luscious, And Hilarious Hits!
In celebration of 80 years of Audrey Hepburn, introducing an all new re-mastered and re-packaged Blu-ray edition. `SABRINA' is charming, humorous and aglow with some of Hollywood's greatest stars. Sabrina is charming, humorous and aglow with some of Hollywood's greatest stars. Humphrey Bogart, William Holden and Audrey Hepburn star in a Cinderella story directed by renowned filmmaker Billy Wilder for `Sunset Boulevard' and `Some Like It Hot.' Humphrey Bogart and William Holden are the mega-rich Larrabee brothers of Long Island. Humphrey Bogart's all work, William Holden's all playboy. But when Sabrina, daughter of the family's chauffeur, returns from Paris all grown up and glamorous, the stage is set for some family fireworks as the brother's fall under the spell of Audrey Hepburn's delightful charms. Based on the play by Samuel A. Taylor.
FILM FACT: Awards and Nominations: Win: Academy Award® for Best Costume Design for Edith Head. Nomination: Academy Award® for Best Director for Billy Wilder. Nomination: Academy Award® for Best Actress for Audrey Hepburn. Nomination: Academy Award® for Best Art Direction for Black-and-White and Art Direction for Hal Pereira and Walter Tyler. Nomination: Academy Award® for Set Decoration for Sam Comer and Ray Moyer. Nomination: Academy Award® for Best Black-and-White Cinematography for Charles Lang, Jr. Academy Award® for Best Story. Nomination: Screenplay for Billy Wilder, Samuel A. Taylor and Ernest Lehman.
Cast: Audrey Hepbur, Humphrey Bogart, William Holden, Walter Hampden, John Williams, Nella Walker, Martha Hyer, Joan Vohs, Marcel Dalio, Marcel Hillaire, Nella Walker, Francis X. Bushman, Ellen Corby, David Ahdar (uncredited), Raymond Bailey (uncredited), Marjorie Bennett (uncredited), Ralph Brooks (uncredited), Colin Campbell (uncredited), Harvey B. Dunn (uncredited), Fritz Ford (uncredited), Otto Forrest (uncredited), Chuck Hamilton (uncredited), Paul Harvey (uncredited), Nancy Kulp (uncredited), Kay E. Kuter (uncredited), Ralph Moratz (uncredited), Bill Neff (uncredited), Emory Parnell (uncredited), Gregory Ratoff (uncredited), Kay Riehl (uncredited), Marion Ross (uncredited) and Emmett Vogan (uncredited)
Director: Billy Wilder
Producer: Billy Wilder
Screenplay: Billy Wilder, Ernest Lehman and Samuel A. Taylor
Composer: Frederick Hollander
Cinematography: Charles Lang
Video Resolution: 1080p [Black-and-White]
Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
Audio: English: 2.0 Dolby TrueHD Master Audio, French: 2.0 Dolby Digital, German: 2.0 Dolby Digital, Italian: 2.0 Dolby Digital, Japanese: 2.0 Dolby Digital and Spanish: 2.0 Dolby Digital
Subtitles: English, English SDH, Danish, Dutch, Finnish, French, Spanish, German, Italian, Japanese, Norwegian, Portuguese and Swedish
Running Time: 114 minutes
Region: All Regions
Number of discs: 1
Studio: Paramount Pictures
Andrew's Blu-ray Review: "Once upon a time, on the North Shore of Long Island...there lived a small girl on a very large estate." So begins ‘SABRINA’ , an enchanting fairy tale about a chauffeur's daughter in love with the younger son of the master of the estate. Sabrina goes to Paris and comes back a polished princess, but her fairy tale has some romantic complications on its way to an unexpected, but happy ending. However, the complications during the creation of this romantic fantasy were sometimes more nightmare than fairy tale.
It is one thing for Hollywood to remake foreign films for American audiences. But why did the studio feel compelled to remake classic films from Hollywood's Golden Age is hard to comprehend. No matter how good the remake is, it always suffers in comparison to the original film. Take the re-make of ‘Sabrina,’ no offense to Sydney Pollack, Julia Ormond and Harrison Ford, but your version I felt was a total crass mess, as how can you compare the remake to a film directed by Billy Wilder and starring Audrey Hepburn, Humphrey Bogart and William Holden, the original wins hands down.
Based on Samuel Taylor's play "Sabrina Fair," the original Sabrina is a delightful romantic-comedy. The ever-versatile Billy Wilder, whose previous film was the war film `Stalag 17,' had an amazing way with actors that are fully on show here. William Holden, Billy Wilder's Academy Award® winning star, reportedly had the time of his life playing billionaire playboy David Larrabee, and his relish for the role shows through every time he is on screen. Billy Wilder also completely recreates Humphrey Bogart in the role of David Larrabee, competing with the all-business competitive brother Linus Larrabee [William Holden]. David Larrabee's workaholic older brother, Linus Larrabee [Humphrey Bogart], sees this and fears that David Larrabee's imminent marriage to Elizabeth Tyson [Martha Hyer] may be endangered. If the engagement is broken off, it would ruin a great corporate deal between the Larrabee Business and Elizabeth Tyson's very wealthy father Mr. Tyson [Francis X. Bushman]. Linus confronts David about his irresponsibility to the family, the business, and Elizabeth, but David is unrepentant. Billy Wilder lets the hardnosed tough guy Humphrey Bogart and lets him show off a sad, soft side as he slowly falls for the allures of Sabrina.
The prologue, with its storybook-like, slightly arch voiceover narration finely read by Audrey Hepburn, suggests a charming fairy tale with a satiric subtext. And indeed, `SABRINA' is Billy Wilder's delightful romantic comedy starring Audrey Hepburn, Humphrey Bogart and William Holden, is a sort of “Cinderella” story, with a chauffeur's daughter who is transformed into the belle of the ball and dances with the prince, except that the "prince" is, if not a beast, at least a shallow cad, while the real love interest is almost more a frog than a prince.
The romantic complications are feather-light, but there's surprising bite both in the intensity of Sabrina's girlish crush on oft-married playboy David Larrabee [William Holden] and in the ambiguous motives of David's hard-nosed older brother Linus [Humphrey Bogart]. For years Sabrina, whose father Thomas Fairchild [John Williams] is the Larabees' chauffeur, has wistfully spied on handsome David Larrabee's ways with women at the family's glamorous parties, and in a despairing moment is even willing to throw her life away over him. When she blossoms, though, David discovers her charms, and she blithely enjoys his attentions despite her awareness of David's fickleness. As for Linus Larrabee, he's ruthless enough to prod David to make another marriage that will help the family corporation, and as he gently takes Sabrina off his brother's hands it's quite a while before his intentions become fully clear, perhaps even to himself.
The only hint of Billy Wilder's usually sharp social commentary in this effervescent film which comes in Linus Larrabee earnest declarations that the role of business in America is to provide good jobs and security to workers, and advancement for all humankind. Now, that's nostalgia. `SABRINA' is not nearly as funny as Billy Wilder's classic screwball comedy `Some Like It Hot,' which was voted the funniest movie of all time by the American Film Institute. Nevertheless, it's a lovely romantic comedy, flawlessly directed by one of Hollywood`s greatest.
Billy Wilder had his own problems during the making of ‘SABRINA.’ He was in pain from a back problem, and he and writer Ernest Lehman were barely keeping up with rewrites during production. On at least one occasion, when he didn't have enough new pages for that day's work, he asked Audrey Hepburn to feign illness so the rest of the day's shooting would be cancelled, giving him time to do more rewrites. Hepburn did as she was told, even though it made her appear difficult or unprofessional.
I have very little to complain about, but if I had to pick out one aspect of the film, and it would be in the second act, which is a bit underdeveloped. Sabrina goes off to Paris where we see a comic scene in the cooking school, which may have been funnier in 1954 than now. One other scene shows Sabrina meeting an elderly Baron, who apparently is responsible for how sophisticated she became during her time abroad, but we are left to guess at this. I'd have liked to lose the cooking scene and get a little more perspective on what she else she learned in Paris. This is an extremely small complaint, but I get to put something in this category.
The comedic side of the romantic comedy formula is largely successful, with a mixture of slapstick, word play and physical humour that works very well to keep the film interesting between romantic interludes. Some of the jokes are telegraphed pretty far in advance, once a man puts champagne glasses in his back pocket, there’s really only one way things can go, but are executed with enough panache so as to still be amusing when they finally show up. Great use is made in this film of the famous French song “La Vie En Rose,” serving both as a signifier of Sabrina’s social and romantic intentions and attitudes, and as a romantic evocation of Paris and bohemian European ways intruding upon a stuffy American family’s cosy existence. Audrey Hepburn evokes in the significantly older Larrabee brothers, a sense of youth and life, a feeling which the viewer cannot help but engage with too.
Still, trying to surpass Humphrey Bogart and Audrey Hepburn is luminous on screen like no other actress before or since, and Humphrey Bogart scowls and makes wiseass remarks with similar ease. Director Billy Wilder does a good job of creating a fairy-tale environment, from the opening narration to making Audrey Hepburn's Sabrina seem innocent even while she's quite matter-of-fact about trying to steal another woman's fiancé. It places us in a world of the ridiculously rich, with servants who feel happy in and, indeed, proud of their stations, and while never acknowledging the triviality of the characters, seldom looking down upon them or stooping to melodrama.
‘SABRINA’ has been remembered as one of Audrey Hepburn’s finest moments. It’s a quintessential part of her filmography: Audrey Hepburn was in the process of becoming a star, was able to show off her acting ability, had one of the greatest directors of all time directing her and was wearing of Givenchy’s costumes for the first time. If you’ve seen ‘Breakfast at Tiffany’s’ and ‘My Fair Lady,’ then this is your next stop.
Blu-ray Video Quality – Wow! The 1080p encoded picture quality is absolutely fantastic, with a natural black-and-white video rivalling even the best of The Criterion Collection releases in terms of clarity, contrast and sharpness. Grain is definitely noticeable and provides a warm, film-like feel, though the intensity level occasionally fluctuates. Not a speck, mark, or scratch could be detected on the pristine source material, which is distinguished by excellent grey scale variance, and superior contrast and clarity. Though textures aren't as pronounced here as they are in some black-and-white films, details are quite evident; both in the foreground and background, and complex patterns remain stable and resist shimmering. You won't find that lush sheen that's a prime component of the best transfers, but blacks are rich and inky, and whites are bold and bright. Nocturnal scenes abound, yet crush is rarely an issue, thanks to fine shadow delineation and well-defined lines that show no evidence of artificial enhancement. While this very good effort from Paramount Pictures will knock your socks off or rank up there with some of the studio's best classic releases, it represents this 60-year-old classic very well, and beautifully captures the unique magnetism and dazzling allure of its iconic leading lady.
Blu-ray Audio Quality – The 2.0 Dolby TrueHD Master Audio mono track delivers very good quality sound that's devoid of any age-related defects, such as hiss, pops, and crackles. A wide dynamic scale handles all the highs and lows with ease, and no distortion ever creeps into the mix. Fine tonal depth allows the full-bodied orchestrations, which include endless reprises of “Isn't It Romantic” to fill the room with ease and dialogue is always clear and comprehendible. Accents, such as shattering glass and the hum of car engines, come through cleanly, and all the elements are well modulated, creating a seamless soundscape that belies its advanced age. Cleanliness is next to godliness where classic soundtracks are concerned, and this one passes muster with flying colours.
Finally, the film was Audrey Hepburn's second starring role, after her breakthrough role in the equally charming `Roman Holiday.' That film was a kind of “Cinderella” in reverse story, about a princess who becomes a commoner for a day, finding momentary happiness and love but without the happily ever after. In `SABRINA,' Audrey Hepburn gets to play the fairy tale the traditional way, and despite its complications, the story ends the way fairy tales are meant to. If you have a romantic bone in your body, you should see this film at least once. If you are a fan of Audrey Hepburn, Humphrey Bogart, or William Holden you should see this film as well and I give it my 100% recommendation for you to purchase this wonderful Blu-ray disc. The only slightly negative aspect of this Blu-ray is that I just wish they would have included some Extras that were also missing on the UK Release of ‘Funny Face' Blu-ray disc. Anyway despite this, I am still proud to have this in my Blu-ray Collection and especially going with my other Audrey Hepburn Blu-ray Collection discs. Highly Recommended!
Andrew C. Miller – Your Ultimate No.1 Film Fan
Le Cinema Paradiso
WARE, United Kingdom
Everybody loves a good Cinderella story, especially if it has a dash of realism and a sense of humour. And unbaked souffles.
And methinks it also helps the case if you have Audrey Hepburn as the modern Cinderella-with-a-wit, which is the strongest point in the charming little romance called "Sabrina." While the chemistry between Hepburn and Humphrey Bogart is never entirely believable, the movie is as buoyant and whimsical as a summer daydream, but with way better dialogue ("Bounce please, ladies").
Sabrina Fairchild (Hepburn) is the daughter of the chauffeur at the palatial Larabee estate. She's also in love with the ne'er-do-well second son, David (William Holden) -- and even attempts suicide after seeing him with one of his many girlfriends, although she's rescued by David's stiff older brother Linus (Humphrey Bogart). The next day Sabrina is sent away to Paris to attend a cooking school, where she meets a kindly old count who teaches her sophistication, ambition and confidence... as well as the ability to make a souffle properly ("A woman happily in love, she burns the souffle. A woman unhappily in love, she forgets to turn on the oven!").
When she returns to the Larabees' estate, the lovelorn little chauffeur's daughter has become a clever sophisticated Parisian beauty (and a pretty good cook). David is instantly smitten. But even if marrying a chauffeur's daughter were okay with his family, Linus has arranged a business marriage for David for the family's newest innovation, which requires large amounts of sugar. And to make sure David doesn't run off with Sabrina, Linus begins wooing her too... and falling in love for real.
"Sabrina" is one of those shimmering romantic comedies that Hollywood once succeeded in whipping together every now and then, and which they now desperately try to imitate with cutesy scripts and arch performances. No such artificiality is present in this movie, though -- it's just a relaxed little romance that ambles through a predictable little plot, and is content to let itself to be illuminated by Hepburn's presence. No gimmicks, no cutesiness.
Part of "Sabrina's" charm is the way Billy Wilder handles the comedy aspect of it -- rather than playing everything for laughs, he simply lets the laughs fall like a shower of petals. There are some laugh-out-loud moments (David sitting on a pair of champagne flutes, and having to lie in a hammock with a cut-out for his injured bottom) but most of the humour is gentle and mildly mocking, such as Mr. Larabee standing in his son's closet so he can have a smoke. And the dialogue adapted from Samuel A. Taylor's play is no less adorable ("You make it sound so vulgar, David, as if the son of hot dog dynasty were being offered in marriage to the daughter of the mustard king").
And perhaps what makes "Sabrina" a really heartwarming experience is the sunny, hopeful attitude. Despite starting with an attempted suicide (which is thwarted in a very tongue-in-cheek manner), the movie soon decides to "throw open the windows and letting in... letting in la vie en rose." It's all about having dreams come true by refusing to run away from love or life, and being open to the suddenly curve balls that they throw you.
But even so, the movie would only be a sweet featherlight curiosity if it weren't for Audrey Hepburn, who was only in her second major movie. She's absolutely transcendent in her role -- bursting with sweetness, enthusiasm, confidence and an almost gleeful joie de vivre. And while she's never entirely convincing as a plain teenager, she is magnificent as a confident, stylish young lady who sweeps into a moneyed party in a black-and-white ball gown. And steals the show, of course.
And the cast supporting her is pretty brilliant -- William Holden is full of sprightly charm as David, Walter Hampden is hilarious as the brittle henpecked Larabee patriarch, and John Williams is quietly solid as Sabrina's long-suffering dad. Humphrey Bogart's gruff, slightly angular Linus is a nice foil for the exuberant Sabrina, but there's pretty much zero chemistry between the two leads. Perhaps it's because Bogart didn't like Hepburn in real life, or maybe their styles just didn't click.
"Sabrina" is a frothy, romantic little tale about reaching for the moon, filled with sparkling dialogue and still-fresh comedy. But its crowning gem is Hepburn, whose early performances showed what a brilliant actress she was.