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Sabrina (1954 film)

Not to be confused with Sabrina (1995 film).
Theatrical re-release poster
Directed by Billy Wilder
Produced by Billy Wilder
Screenplay by Billy Wilder
Ernest Lehman
Based on Sabrina Fair
1953 play 
by Samuel A. Taylor
Starring Humphrey Bogart
Audrey Hepburn
William Holden
Music by Frederick Hollander
Cinematography Charles Lang
Edited by Arthur P. Schmidt
Distributed by Paramount Pictures
Release dates
  • September 9, 1954 (1954-09-09) (London premiere)
  • September 22, 1954 (1954-09-22) (NY premiere)
  • October 15, 1954 (1954-10-15)
Running time
113 minutes[1]
Country United States
Language English
Budget $2,238,813
Box office $4 million (rentals)[2]

Sabrina (Sabrina Fair in the United Kingdom) is a 1954 American romantic comedy film directed by Billy Wilder, adapted for the screen by Wilder, Samuel A. Taylor, and Ernest Lehman from Taylor's play Sabrina Fair. It stars Humphrey Bogart, Audrey Hepburn, and William Holden. This was Wilder's last film released by Paramount Pictures, ending a 12-year business relationship with Wilder and the company. The film was selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry by the Library of Congress in 2002.[3]


Sabrina Fairchild (Audrey Hepburn) is the young daughter of the Larrabee family's chauffeur, Thomas, and she has been in love with David Larrabee (William Holden) all her life. David is an oft-married, idle playboy, crazy for women, who has never noticed Sabrina, much to her and the household staff's dismay.

Sabrina then attends culinary school in Paris, and she returns home as an attractive and sophisticated woman. David, after initially not recognizing her, is quickly drawn to her.

David's workaholic older brother, Linus (Humphrey Bogart), sees this and fears that David'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's very wealthy father. Linus confronts David about his irresponsibility to the family, the business, and Elizabeth, but David is unrepentant.

Linus then tries to distract Sabrina from David by drawing her affections to himself. He succeeds, but in the process falls in love with her, though he cannot admit this even to himself.

Linus reveals his maneuver to Sabrina, leaving her disillusioned about him and David. Sabrina agrees to leave and never come back, and Linus arranges for her to return to Paris by ship the next day.

The next morning, Linus has second thoughts and decides to send David to Paris with Sabrina. This means calling off David's wedding with Elizabeth and the big Tyson deal, and he schedules a meeting of the Larrabee board to announce this. However, David shows up at the meeting and declares that he's decided to marry Elizabeth after all. As a result, Linus finally recognizes his own feelings for Sabrina. He rushes off to join her on the ship, and they sail away together to Paris.


Holden and Bogart
Bogart and Hepburn


Initially, Cary Grant was considered for the role of Linus, but he declined,[4] and the role was taken by Bogart.

During production of the film, Hepburn and Holden entered into a brief, but passionate and much-publicized love affair. Bogart, meanwhile, complained that Hepburn required too many takes to get her dialogue right and pointed out her inexperience. His behavior towards Hepburn, however, was better than his behavior towards other members of the cast and crew.[citation needed]

Bogart was very unhappy during the filming, convinced that he was totally wrong for this kind of film, mad at not being Wilder's first choice, and not liking Holden or Wilder. But Wilder's offbeat casting produced a performance that critics generally considered successful. Bogart later apologized to Wilder for his behavior on-set, citing problems in his personal life.[citation needed]

Although Edith Head won an Oscar for Best Costumes, most of Hepburn's outfits are rumored to have been created by Hubert de Givenchy and chosen personally by the star. Head, as the film's official costume designer, was given credit for the costumes, although the Academy's votes were obviously for Hepburn's attire.[5] Edith Head did not refuse the Oscar. In a 1974 interview, Head stated that she was responsible for creating the dresses, with inspiration from some Givenchy designs that Hepburn liked, but that she made important changes, and the dresses were not by Givenchy.[6] After Head's death, Givenchy stated that Sabrina's iconic black cocktail dress was produced at Paramount under Head's supervision, but claimed it was his design.[7]

The film began a lifelong association between Givenchy and Hepburn. It has been reported that when Hepburn called on Givenchy for the first time in Paris, he assumed that it was Katharine Hepburn in his salon.[8]

The location used to portray the Larrabee family's mansion in Glen Cove, New York, was 'Hill Grove', the home of George Lewis in Beverly Hills, California.[9] This mansion was later demolished during the 1960s. The location used to portray the Glen Cove train station was Glen Cove (LIRR station), which is a train station along the Oyster Bay Branch of the Long Island Rail Road.[10]

La Vie en rose

Hepburn sings, in French, La Vie en rose (a reference to seeing the world through rose-colored glasses), the signature song of French singer Édith Piaf—which had been highly popular in the English-speaking world as well as in France. The occasion for Hepburn to sing it is at the episode of Sabrina's return from Paris, when she is far more assertive than before setting out, and her life does turn rosier.


File:Edith Head costume designs for Audrey Hepburn in 1954 film "Sabrina.".jpg
Six sketches in pencil, ink, and watercolor with two fabric samples for a skirt, blouse, and apron designed by Edith Head for Audrey Hepburn in the film "Sabrina".


In 1995, Sabrina (1995 film) was produced, starring Harrison Ford, Julia Ormond, and Greg Kinnear in the roles originally played by Bogart, Hepburn, and Holden respectively.

It also served as the inspiration for the 1994 Hindi film Yeh Dillagi, starring Akshay Kumar, Kajol and Saif Ali Khan. While there are changes to the plot, it was a considerable success at the box office. It also boosted the careers of Akshay Kumar and Kajol, both of whom got best actor nominations at the Filmfare Awards for their performances.

Manappandal (1961) was inspired by this movie in Tamil. It featured S.S.Rajendran, S.A. Ashokan and B.Saroja Devi. It was a box-office success and ran for 100 days in many cinemas. [12] In Telugu also it was remade as Intiki Deepam Illaley, featuring N.T. Ramarao, Kongara Jaggaiah and B. Saroja Devi.


  1. ^ "SABRINA FAIR (U)". British Board of Film Classification. 1954-03-29. Retrieved 2012-12-09. 
  2. ^ 'The Top Box-Office Hits of 1954', Variety Weekly, January 5, 1955
  3. ^ Films Selected for the National Film Registry in 2002 – The Library of Congress.
  4. ^ Jaynes, Barbara Grant; Trachtenberg, Robert. Cary Grant: A Class Apart. Burbank, California: Turner Classic Movies (TCM) and Turner Entertainment. 2004.
  5. ^
  6. ^ Dorléac, Jean-Pierre (2010-10-24). "Edith Head and the 'Sabrina' dress". Los Angeles Times. 
  7. ^
  8. ^
  9. ^ Film location
  10. ^ Film location
  11. ^ "NY Times: Sabrina". NY Times. Retrieved 2008-12-21. 
  12. ^ Guy, Randor. "Manappandal". The Hindu. Retrieved 27 April 2014. 
Further reading
  • Shaw, Mark; Juliet Cuming; David Taylor (2009-04-14). Charmed by Audrey: Life on the Set of Sabrina. San Rafael, CA: Insight Editions. ISBN 978-1-933784-87-8.  (Candid photographs of Audrey, on and off the set, taken by Mark Shaw for LIFE magazine during production of the film.)
  • Shaw, Mark (photographer) (1953-12-07). "Audrey Hepburn, Many-sided Charmer". LIFE (Time, Inc.) 35 (23): 127–135.  (LIFE article on Audrey including some of the photos from the Sabrina set.)

External links

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