All right Mr. DeMille, I'm ready for my close-up

12 August 2012

A Sabrina Sunday

"Once upon a time on the north shore of Long Island, some thirty miles from New York, there lived a small girl on a large estate. "

"The estate was very large indeed and  had many servants.  There were gardeners to take care of the gardens, and a tree surgeon on retainer.  There was a  boatman to take care of the boats, to put them in the water in the spring and scrape their bottoms in the winter. There was specialists to take care of the grounds- the outdoor tennis court and the indoor tennis court, the outdoor swimming pool and the indoor swimming pool, and there was a man of no particular title who took care of a small pool in the garden for a goldfish named George."

" Also on the estate there was a chauffeur by the name of  Fairchild who had been  imported from England years ago together with a new Rolls Royce.  Fairchild was a fine chauffeur of considerable polish, like the eight cars in his care, and he had a daughter by the name of Sabrina."

"It was  the eve of the annual  Six Meter Yacht Races and has had been traditional on Long Island for the past 30 years the Larabees were giving a party.  It never rained on the night of the Larabee party, the Larabees wouldn't have stood for it.  There were 4 Larabees in all, Father, Mother and two sons.  Maud and Oliver Larabee were married in nineteen hundred and six and among there many wedding presents was a Town House in New York and this estate for weekends.   The Town House has since been converted  into Saks Fifth Avenue.

 Linus Larabee, the elder son, graduated from Yale where his classmates voted him the the man most likely to leave his Alma Mater 50 million dollars.  His brother, David, went through several of the best eastern colleges for short periods of time and  through several marriages for even shorter periods of time.  He is now a successful 6 goal polo player and is listed on Linus' tax return as a $600 deduction    Life was pleasant among the Larabees, for this was as close to heaven as one could get on Long Island."

Thus begins Billy Wilder's enchanting fairy tale of the chauffeur's daughter named Sabrina, whose father warned her not to reach for the moon, and the Larabees two sons-handsome playboy  David /William Holden, and crusty stiff old bachelor Linus/ Humphrey Bogart.  I won't give it all away... but that little girl, the one who grew up on the outside looking in, living above the garage with her nose pressed against the ballroom window all the while hopelessly and madly in love with the ne'er do well  David...

 ...and who  like a "nobody" watched as David twirled the society girls around the dance floor or met them with champagne in a rendez-vous at the indoor tennis court, all to the orchestra playing "Isn't it Romantic"...

... is sent off to cooking school in Paris by her Father in the hopes she will get over David.  Sabrina,however, arrives back on Long Island, chic and transformed, along with her poodle named- David.   The real David is instantly smitten, though he has no idea who she is...and...well Go Watch!

"He's still David Larabbe and you're still the chauffeur's daughter, and you're still reaching for the moon.."  No Father, the moon's reaching for me" 
 Yes, Sabrina does get to go to the ball and wear that iconic Givenchy gown, but oh what happens at that ball....

"I have a lovely evening dress with yards of skirt and way off the shoulder, should I wear it?"
Of course I adore Audrey Hepburn in this film, but for me it is the remarkable Humphrey Bogart, a softer Bogie under the spell of a sublime Audrey. 

"...its as though a window had been thrown open and a lovely breeze swept through this stuffy old house"

Billy Wilder's fairytale stands the test of time-a charming classic where all the parts fit and the romance is nontraditional, unexpected and perfect.  Written by Billy Wilder and Ernest Lehman from the play by Samuel Taylor Sabrina will always be one of my favorite fairy tales-and remember Paris is always a good idea!