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the leading actors in "Sabrina" (1954)


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I've loved the film Sabrina (1954) ever since I first saw it about 13 years ago. Since then, I've seen it many times.

I especially love the music in this film, along with the clothes. The film seems to have a "fantasy world" feel to it, which I like.

Seems like there are a lot of complaints about the leading actors (Humphrey Bogart, William Holden). I have no problem with their performances. They were both well cast, in my opinion. 

Does anyone else feel this way? Or do others think that others should have played the parts of the Larrabee brothers?

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Well, there's the standard objection that becomes increasingly common in modern times to the age difference between the romantic leads. Bogart was 55; Hepburn was 25. And all the accompanying boos and hisses and ooh, yuck, gross, creepy from people who don't know or don't remember that such age differences, while not always so dramatic, were pretty standard fare for Hollywood in those days, especially for Audrey! This doesn't bother me so much personally, as I am a man rapidly approaching something close to what Bogart's age was in the film, and I would have no objection at all if a 25-year-old who looked like Audrey Hepburn wanted to have a romantic relationship with me! But the Me Too people would probably say my paleolithic attitudes are part of the problem ...

I shy away from most social media but I got into a little bit of a debate on Facebook a few years ago with a woman I went to high school with who opined that in every instance, original films are superior to remakes except, in her opinion, for Sabrina. She declared the remake to be "much superior". This threw me for a loop, as I both love the original and find the remake to be an overlong snoozer. Sorry, Sydney Pollack, you made a lot of great films, but this one gave me the heebie-jeebies. So, I asked what her reasons were, and she said it rested pretty much entirely on her finding Harrison Ford so much more romantically desirable than Humphrey Bogart, whom she just found weird-looking and ugly. I didn't feel like this was going to be a rewarding debate, as her entire thesis on comparing the two films was based entirely on the physical desirability of the male, but I kept it going a while longer, saying that in his day, Bogie was both a man's man and a ladies man. She replied, "Bogart, no, yuck, but Cary Grant, mmmmmm ....". I didn't reply again.

Personally, my objection to the remake was with neither Ford, whom I pretty much always love in anything and whom I think deserves more credit for versatility than he receives, nor Greg Kinnear, who uncannily channels the spirit of William Holden and whom it didn't occur to me how Holden-like he was until I saw this film. No, it was with Julia Ormond, who's lovely but was dull as dishwater in this film and brought none of those special charms Audrey brought to the original.

So, to some up, yeah Bogie is a bit of an awkward fit in this film, but he's always watchable, just like he is in every movie. I can't imagine anyone objecting to William Holden's performance. He's a delight as the irresponsible younger brother who's going to be forced to grow up by his family against his will. In contrast to all the really heavy roles he played in the '50s, he seems to be having a blast getting to let loose a little bit with his comic timing in this one.

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Well folks, how many times around here have I said that while Bogie was a great film actor, by the time he made Sabrina, he had very little if any sex appeal left, and definitely not enough left in him in order to make it believable that the young and beautiful chauffeur's daughter would find him attractive enough to eventually run off with him. 

And so, and once again, IF the then middle-aged Robert Taylor who DID still have sex appeal in 1954 had been cast as Linus, THEN I could have believed such a thing.

(...and yes yes, all you "Taylor was a wooden actor" people around here, that is probably true, BUT because the Linus character is pretty much "staid" and "reserved" throughout the picture, Taylor's "woodenness" would have worked in his favor in this case)

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4 hours ago, TomJH said:

One of my favourite Bogart moments in the film

vlcsnap-00023.png

"Look at me - Joe College with a touch of arthritis."

 

LOL! Bogart's age doesnt bother me that much because he's SUPPOSED to be old in the film and there are jokes about it. But he just isnt a good fit for me in the romantic parts. Cary Grant would've been SO much better. (But he turned down the part).......

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4 hours ago, sewhite2000 said:

Well, there's the standard objection that becomes increasingly common in modern times to the age difference between the romantic leads. Bogart was 55; Hepburn was 25. And all the accompanying boos and hisses and ooh, yuck, gross, creepy from people who don't know or don't remember that such age differences, while not always so dramatic, were pretty standard fare for Hollywood in those days, especially for Audrey! This doesn't bother me so much personally, as I am a man rapidly approaching something close to what Bogart's age was in the film, and I would have no objection at all if a 25-year-old who looked like Audrey Hepburn wanted to have a romantic relationship with me! But the Me Too people would probably say my paleolithic attitudes are part of the problem ...

I shy away from most social media but I got into a little bit of a debate on Facebook a few years ago with a woman I went to high school with who opined that in every instance, original films are superior to remakes except, in her opinion, for Sabrina. She declared the remake to be "much superior". This threw me for a loop, as I both love the original and find the remake to be an overlong snoozer. Sorry, Sydney Pollack, you made a lot of great films, but this one gave me the heebie-jeebies. So, I asked what her reasons were, and she said it rested pretty much entirely on her finding Harrison Ford so much more romantically desirable than Humphrey Bogart, whom she just found weird-looking and ugly. I didn't feel like this was going to be a rewarding debate, as her entire thesis on comparing the two films was based entirely on the physical desirability of the male, but I kept it going a while longer, saying that in his day, Bogie was both a man's man and a ladies man. She replied, "Bogart, no, yuck, but Cary Grant, mmmmmm ....". I didn't reply again.

Personally, my objection to the remake was with neither Ford, whom I pretty much always love in anything and whom I think deserves more credit for versatility than he receives, nor Greg Kinnear, who uncannily channels the spirit of William Holden and whom it didn't occur to me how Holden-like he was until I saw this film. No, it was with Julia Ormond, who's lovely but was dull as dishwater in this film and brought none of those special charms Audrey brought to the original.

So, to some up, yeah Bogie is a bit of an awkward fit in this film, but he's always watchable, just like he is in every movie. I can't imagine anyone objecting to William Holden's performance. He's a delight as the irresponsible younger brother who's going to be forced to grow up by his family against his will. In contrast to all the really heavy roles he played in the '50s, he seems to be having a blast getting to let loose a little bit with his comic timing in this one.

 

What I find hard to buy is Holden's complete reversal at the end. Maybe there were scenes cut, but it's too abrupt and hard to believe........

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6 minutes ago, Hibi said:

 

LOL! Bogart's age doesnt bother me that much because he's SUPPOSED to be old in the film and there are jokes about it. But he just isnt a good fit for me in the romantic parts. Cary Grant would've been SO much better. (But he turned down the part).......

Yes, but don't you think Grant might have had too MUCH sex appeal for the Linus part, Hibi?

(...I mean, right from the start of the movie wouldn't ya be thinking that a now more mature and sophisticated Sabrina would naturally find Grant more appealing than the immature and carefree Holden?...and thus the "surprise" at the end that she picked Linus wouldn't have been all that much of a "surprise"?) 

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7 minutes ago, Dargo said:

Yes, but don't you think Grant might have had too MUCH sex appeal for the Linus part, Hibi?

(...I mean, right from the start of the movie wouldn't ya be thinking that a now more mature and sophisticated Sabrina would naturally find Grant more appealing than the immature and carefree Holden?...and thus the "surprise" at the end that she picked Linus wouldn't have been all that much of a "surprise"?) 

Possibly, but they could've nerded him up with glasses and such like they did in a few of his films......

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5 minutes ago, Hibi said:

Possibly, but they could've nerded him up with glasses and such like they did in a few of his films......

Yeah maybe, but once he'd have opened his mouth to speak, he'd STILL have sounded like Tony Curtis' impression of him in Some Like It Hot, ya know! ;)

(...I mean you can only dress-down Cary so much, ya know!)

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25 minutes ago, Hibi said:

 

LOL! Bogart's age doesnt bother me that much because he's SUPPOSED to be old in the film and there are jokes about it. But he just isnt a good fit for me in the romantic parts. Cary Grant would've been SO much better. (But he turned down the part).......

Doesn't Casablanca count as a romantic part?

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24 minutes ago, Hibi said:

 

What I find hard to buy is Holden's complete reversal at the end. Maybe there were scenes cut, but it's too abrupt and hard to believe........

I find that a little problematic, too. It's sort of like the film had reached its pre-approved running time, and they needed to just wrap things up. But it doesn't drag down my overall enjoyment of the film.

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48 minutes ago, sewhite2000 said:

I find that a little problematic, too. It's sort of like the film had reached its pre-approved running time, and they needed to just wrap things up. But it doesn't drag down my overall enjoyment of the film.

Yeah, the ending seems rushed. I've always felt there was a cut scene in there or something.

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Loved your first post sew...spot on.

I would also like to point out that Bogey IS a lady's man-after all, he snagged young Lauren Bacall didn't he? I think the entire point of the movie is sometimes "maturity" can be sexier than "fun" or irresponsible types.

I also think for this day & age, maturity levels have fallen dramatically.
My parents married at 19 and started having children by 21-22 and matured on-the-job. Responsibility used to be doled out in incremental (babysitting/newspaper delivering/lawn mowing) tasks given to tweens and many had real employment by 16-18. In the mid seventies, I took my first real job at 15, riding my bike to work!

These days, a 19 y/o is considered a "baby" and still treated as such. Kids are not brought up with any ambition to become an adult, but to remain childlike forever, just like their logo t-shirt wearing parents clamoring for the next STAR WARS movie or comic book.

The Sabrina charactor was much more mature than those her age today and she recognised all that is wonderful about a mature man. Of course, Linus' charactor was somewhat inexperienced with women, having been so focused on business, making his personality a good fit with youthful idealistic Sabrina.

Cary Grant was far too confident to play Linus-Linus needs to be much more humble and unassuming, just like Bogie played it.

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I like the original Sabrina much more so than the remake.  I do think Linus looked like he was old enough to be Sabrina's father and it seems odd that she would be more into him than David whom she'd pined over since childhood.  I do think however, that Linus is supposed to be younger than Bogart himself.  Sabrina mentions watching Linus go off to work every day.  I'm guessing Linus is supposed to be in his late 30s-early 40s maybe? I think David is older than Sabrina, but from the dialogue in the film, it sounds like he and Sabrina did grow up together a little bit.  Perhaps David is supposed to be late 20s-early 30s? I get the sense that there is a bit of an age difference between Linus and David. 

I am thinking that Sabrina may have found an opportunity to "help" Linus and get him out of the drudgery of the 9-5 businessman life and show him that there's more to life than money and sitting in an office.  While in Paris, Sabrina discovered that there was a whole world to explore and she was also forced to grow up and become independent during the two years she was away.  She probably wanted to share some of that with Linus who, while an adult, was trapped in the corporate world.  Linus may have discovered another side of himself, a less serious side, when he was with Sabrina.  This was a side of himself that he enjoyed.

I also agree that David's reversal at the end was a little abrupt and sudden.  Though David was not depicted as being too serious about any girl he was dating.  The girls are a dime a dozen to him.  Perhaps he didn't care about losing Sabrina because he had 10 other girls lined up.  Or, he may have graciously given up Sabrina as he saw a different side of Linus and wanted to give him a shot at having his own romance.  Maybe he figured if Linus was more relaxed, he'd get off his back.

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I've wanted to read the play version to see how different it was from the film (I know Wilder changed things) I know there was an aunt in the play that's not in the movie. I find Bogart hit and miss. In some scenes he's good, others he's off.  He just doesnt seem comfortable in the role. Not a lot of sparks there with Hepburn either, I dont think. Maybe because he wanted his wife in the part........

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1 hour ago, Hibi said:

I've wanted to read the play version to see how different it was from the film (I know Wilder changed things) I know there was an aunt in the play that's not in the movie. I find Bogart hit and miss. In some scenes he's good, others he's off.  He just doesnt seem comfortable in the role. Not a lot of sparks there with Hepburn either, I dont think. Maybe because he wanted his wife in the part........

I do like the movie in spite of everything that *could* be better about it.  I think it would have been interesting to have had Holden in Bogart's role and a younger actor in Holden's role--like Robert Wagner or someone like that.

I also agree with Bogart being hit or miss sometimes.  I love Bogart, he's one of my favorites, but he very much belongs in a specific type role and environment.  He's great in the roles where he's cynical and very much his own person, but very loyal to those close to him.  He is Rick Blaine in Casablanca--how he didn't win the Oscar for that is beyond me.  He was perfect for the world of noir.  But he's completely out of his element in other genres, like westerns and weepies.  Anything where he has to affect an accent other than his native one usually doesn't go well. In The African Queen, he plays a little more comical version of his persona.  It works, but I think his Oscar was a consolation prize for his career achievements.

 

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Just now, speedracer5 said:

I do like the movie in spite of everything that *could* be better about it.  I think it would have been interesting to have had Holden in Bogart's role and a younger actor in Holden's role--like Robert Wagner or someone like that.

I also agree with Bogart being hit or miss sometimes.  I love Bogart, he's one of my favorites, but he very much belongs in a specific type role and environment.  He's great in the roles where he's cynical and very much his own person, but very loyal to those close to him.  He is Rick Blaine in Casablanca--how he didn't win the Oscar for that is beyond me.  He was perfect for the world of noir.  But he's completely out of his element in other genres, like westerns and weepies.  Anything where he has to affect an accent other than his native one usually doesn't go well. In The African Queen, he plays a little more comical version of his persona.  It works, but I think his Oscar was a consolation prize for his career achievements.

 

I love Sabrina despite the casting of Bogart;  Despite being too old and miscast Bogie does some fine acting in the film and mostly makes me forget those things.   Of course maybe I'm so focused on the charms of Hepburn I just overlook those faults.

It would have been an interesting film with Holden in the role of the older brother and a 20 something actor as the younger one.    BUT the issue with that would be that the younger brother would be about the same age as the girl and the early scenes where she was a young teen wouldn't have worked if the younger brother was also a young teen or only a few years older;  e.g.  a teen male wouldn't be taking women to that tennis court with the same type of flair that an experienced man would have.    Teen girls don't have fantasies for peers. 

  

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I would have liked to have seen things spruced up a bit in this film. Too bad Edna May Oliver was gone. Seeing her cast as a cougar chasing after Bill Holden would have been interesting.

Knowing Edna May, she'd probably have a pretty direct approach too.

697ea920418272625057c23a02299795.jpg

"You! David! Let's get it on!"

 

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I am her biggest fan so thanks for mentioning her, Tom!

If she were alive today, they could probably doll her all up and she could be playing leads instead of just spinsters, old rich aunts and grammar school teachers. She'd still probably be making that characteristic sniffing sound of disapproval though if she played opposite a Matt Damon, Tom Cruise or Bruce Willis.


 

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I'm not usually one for sloppy, romantic stories, but I do adore this film. I think Bogie was way too old for the part, but I think he carried it off quite well. Sabrina is smitten now, but wait ten years and see what happens when she has to change his diapers and feed him his gruel. Will she still be madly and passionately in love or feel like a slave to an old man? For me, it's still a nice film and I love it.

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1 hour ago, TomJH said:

I would have liked to have seen things spruced up a bit in this film. Too bad Edna May Oliver was gone. Seeing her cast as a cougar chasing after Bill Holden would have been interesting.

Knowing Edna May, she'd probably have a pretty direct approach too.

697ea920418272625057c23a02299795.jpg

"You! David! Let's get it on!"

 

 

LOL!!!

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