Saturday, March 26, 2005

Sabrina

Believe it or not I had never seen Billy Wilder's Sabrina until last night. I don't know why but I had this vague perception that it was a dated clunker. Maybe my fear of the remake (Remember that Julia Ormond vehicle in the 90s? Remember when they were trying to make Ormond into a big star?) which I never saw somehow bled into the original and, knowing that some classics are unworthy of their reputation, I somehow assumed Sabrina was one of those. Also this film is brought up in every article about Hollywood's sexism/ageism collision so I naturally thought "ew" about Bogie and Audrey as a couple.

But as per usual with Billy Wilder, it has the just-right combo of laughs, drama, and overall cleverness. If Wilder made beds, the princess would never feel a pea under the mattress. If Wilder made porridge Goldilocks would never feel it was too hot or too cold. Sabrinais "just right." It's lovely to look at (not just for Audrey Hepburn) and a couple of images/scenes will stick with me for their sheer perfection; I'm thinking of two shots of otherwise prim and proper people smooshed up against one another hopping up and down on a sheet of plastic. Once as a plot point joke, the next as a beautiful refrain and comic aside. It's all just so graceful. Wilder is such a confident smooth filmmaker. And my favorite scene is a climactic one in which Sabrina (Hepburn) finally understands out what Linus (Bogart) is up to with their frequent dating. Watching it I'm marvelling at how Hepburn geniusly underplays it. It's the type of scene that I think most lesser actors and directors would have really pushed -and thereby lost it's quiet wounding force. As she leaves the scene in beautiful longshot b&w cinematography -(haven't seen it but I bet the remake used a closeup) I just said to myself 'Doo-Wah!*'

* 'Doo Wah' being a term once overused as personal shorthand amongst friends in the 90s whilst in the collective fan throes of dance group Deee-Lite's shortlived 'World Clique'dominance. 'Doo Wah' being pulled from the song "Good Beat" as in 'I just wanna hear a...' Doo Wah being a term of respect/endearment/drop-jawed awe usually provoked by some diva-esque action. In the vernacular family of the finger/vocal 'Snap' and "you go girl!" -- i.e. unneccessary verbal/physical punctuations to dramatic/showstopping moments. This lesson in personal 90s pophistory is brought to you by Nathaniel's early morning coffee.

10 comments:

Anonymous said...

I just can understand Wilder... Bogart is miscast... Holden is more handsome, funny, atractive, and charming...
sabrina would never date Linus in real world. Bur nevermind, I just love this picture...

Anonymous said...

sorry :i just can't understand Wilder

Nick Davis said...

I'm going to have to give this a try one day, but I have personal hang-ups, such as, I don't much care for Audrey Hepburn or for a good amount of Billy Wilder; Roman Holiday and The Apartment both wear my nerves. And William Holden can be touch-and-go, too. But you're the FilmBitch, so I'm gonna believe you. Anyway, I loved this mini-review.

NATHANIEL R said...

I don't obsess on Audrey as many do. While it's obvious that she's a great movie star, I also think she's a better actress than she gets credit for being (albeit one with limited range). But yes, anonymous, Bogie is miscast in this. I was watching the documentary on it afterwards and as it turns out Cary Grant was originally to play the role and dropped out right before filming began. Replace Grant with Bogart and the movie goes from "just right" to "very great" says me.

As for Billy Wilder --My favorites are Sunset Boulevard and Some Like it Hot ---original choices I know. snort.

But Nick you don't love William Wyler's Roman Holiday? I'm a sucker for that one. Audrey and all.

Nick Davis said...

Re: Roman Holiday, I might just be a grouch, 'cuz Derek and I seem to be the only people who were just bored with her and with the story. (I suspect I would have prefered it with Jean Arthur or Claudette Colbert when they were the right ages, or someone like them who could contribute to the fun of the movie even when they're really just playing 'The Girl.'")

Re: The Caine Mutiny - I've never seen the movie, but the novel inexplicably won the Pulitzer Prize, so there's a whole history of that material duping awards bodies. We read it in high school right after The Color Purple, and it was like, from this to this???

Re: Once & Again, who knows if this is really attached to anything, but here is a petition I signed months ago to get the other seasons put out on DVD.

ryan said...

Aagh. I can't listen to criticism of Audrey. Please, has there ever been a more lovely, classy, elegant woman (well, other than Deneuve, perhaps). Discovered and crowned by none other than Colette - surely you're not going to argue with Colette?!

Nick Davis said...

Fuck, not only did I pick an unintentional argument with Colette, I posted to the wrong entry. Don't mind me, off in the corner, getting dumber.

Anonymous said...

I don't particularly like Breakfast At Tiffany's... does that make me a bad person?

"As for Billy Wilder --My favorites are Sunset Boulevard and Some Like it Hot ---original choices I know. snort."

here here.

-Glenn

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