Friday, November 18, 2011

The Classic List: love triangle edition

It's time for another installment of what I like to call The Classic List. Where I wax poetic about my favorite cinematic contributions from old-school Hollywood, and hope to inspire y'all to go out and explore some awesome vintage films for yourselves. In no way is this list definitive, because, you guys, that would take AGES, and I wouldn't want to bore you. So, without further ado, I give you this week's selection: Sabrina.

Filmed in 1954 by one of my favorite directors of the time: Billy Wilder, Sabrina tells the story of Sabrina Fairchild (Audrey Hepburn in one of her best roles). The movie opens with our heroine observing a party, or should I say observing a certain David Larrabee (William Holden); Sabrina has been in love with David since they were children. Her father works for the Larrabee family as their chauffeur; he and his daughter (whose mother died when she was young), live over the family's garage. Despite Sabrina's undying devotion to him, David doesn't really acknowledge her existence, being the shameless flirt and playboy that he is.

The events that proceed after our heroine's fated night of swooning over Mr. Larrabee are part of what makes this movie so Victorian Swag-worthy. Sabrina, very much a girl after our own hearts, in very dramatic teenager fashion, decides that if David won't love her, then life isn't worth living. So she goes into the garage where all of the Larrabee family's swanky automobiles are stored, closes the doors, and turns all the cars on. Like I said, drama all the way!

Because her father is so absolutely fabulous, he decides that his daughter simply must get away, i.e: escape her obsession. So he SENDS HER TO PARIS to attend culinary school. While there Sabrina learns how to be more comfortable in her own skin, she also becomes quite the chef and fashion icon!

This, dear readers, is where our story picks up. Sabrina arrives at the train station and is waiting for her father to pick her up, when David Larrabee goes roaring by in his fancy car. And in perhaps what is one of the most memorable moments in film history, he puts his car in reverse and offers Sabrina a ride. To quickly summarize, David, over the course of the next few days, finally takes notice of the chauffeur's daughter. He falls in love with her, and his older brother: the staid and imposing Linus, does not approve. He has seen this before, because, his brother IS quite the ladies' man and what could possibly be different about this time? Oh boy, Linus, do YOU have it coming. David injures himself (by sitting on a pair of champagne glasses, no less. ouch!), and he forces Linus to keep Sabrina entertained. It turns out that Linus is more than a little entertained, even he can't resist the charming girl that has stolen his brother's heart:

Now, I KNOW what you're thinking. That this sounds exactly like some typical romantic comedy that you just saw in theaters, but you couldn't be further from the truth. Because the cookie-cutter movies from today don't have Audrey Hepburn or Humphrey Bogart. Just look at the way he looks at her in the clip above: like his heart is breaking because he's finally allowed himself to fall in love, but he can never have her because he isn't exactly "prince charming." And have you ever seen an actress that is as effortless, beautiful, and enigmatic as Audrey Hepburn? No.

The thing that makes this movie so special, besides its fabulous actors, is that it's real. Yes, it is also a fairytale, because what little girl doesn't wish for the boy that she's always loved from afar to one-day fall in love with her because she has grown beautiful and sophisticated. But when you move beyond that and realize that this story is just as much about Linus as it is about Sabrina, a man who is rich and powerful but has always considered himself to be beyond something as mortal as love, there is where you see the heart of Sabrina.

My goodness, when Linus, predictable, "boring," Linus shows up on the boat at the end of the movie to profess his love for Sabrina, I just go to pieces. Because isn't that what love's really about? Moving past your faults and differences towards something that is about more than just yourself.

If Audrey and Bogie and a swoon-worthy love story aren't enough to convince you that Sabrina should be at the top of your must-watch list, then I leave you with this:

THANK YOU, Givenchy!


  1. "A woman happily in love, she burns the soufflé. A woman unhappily in love, she forgets to turn on the oven." Oh, I love it! I love it all!

  2. Now I want to go watch it again. It really is a MAGICAL movie.