Sunday, April 09, 2006

Two Guys, A Girl, And A Plastics Deal

The Billy Wilder Centennial

is probably the most well-known Wilder film I had yet to see before last night, it is also his most successful romance, and I'm saying this as an utter devotee of The Apartment. It is the story of two rich men who both fall in love with the daughter of the family chauffeur. The daughter is Audrey Hepburn, who as Sabrina Fairchild grew up in the shadow of the vast Larrabee estate and was stricken at a young age with a love for the youngest Larrabee child, David. David is played by Wilder favorite William Holden, returning to work with the director who revitalized his career just a year after his Oscar win for Stalage 17. David is an irresponsible play-boy who never really noticed Sabrina until after her transformative return from cooking school in Paris. When David decides to forgo his 4th marriage, this time to the daughter of wealthy businessman whose support is vital to the company's landing a successful plastics merger, so that he can run off with Sabrina, his brother is forced to intervene.

Playing the part of older brother Linus is Humphrey Bogart, in his middle-50's he seems an unlikely suitor for the waffish young Audrey Hepburn, but it works in this picture. Linus ensures that David experience a little 'accident' that puts him out of commission for a while, and then attempts to romance Sabrina himself so as to save the plastics deal. For those of you who might think Bogart mis-cast as a wealthy Long Island born businessman, its important to remember that Humphry, cragy features and all, came from a weal-to-do New York family and was going to be a doctor before catching the acting bug. The slow formation of Linus and Sabrinas mutual love in the film is brought about in subtle and intricately constructed ways, and despite its seeming unlikelihood feels more real them most any other romance I've seen in a motion picture.

This is a strong little cast in a beautiful and simple film that seems a real break from the kind of slightly callused stuff Wilder was doing in this period. The director in fact seems to be letting us all know that inside that cynical exterior he's a real softy, and I find myself wondering how much of his take on this movie (which comes form the Samuel Taylor play) was inspired by his deep love for his much younger wife Audry. Sabrina was remade in 1995, and though I haven't seen it I can't imagine it topping the original. Billy Wilders Sabrinia is an A1 romance enjoyable for even those who are not huge on the genre, and thusly comes highly recommended by me.

Also seen by me last night:

  • The Thirteenth Floor: Now I was intrigued by the concept of this film when I first learned of it back in 1999. In the movie computer scientists have created an exact replica of 1937 Los Angeles on the 13th floor of a city high-rise. In short The Thirteenth Floor is an attempt at Film Noir by way of The Matrix. This movie promises much but delivers little, at least part of this is due to the trailer which gives away far to much. You start out the movie knowing exactly where its going and what the twist is, your just a little short on the details. It reminded me of watching The Boys From Brazil, you know those Nazi's are cloning little Hitlers from the start, it just takes Sir Laurence so *#%! long to figure it out! None of the characters in the movie is all that interesting and the casts acting is sub-par, this is especially true of Vincent D'Onofrio's two one-note characterizations. However Dennis Haysbert is in it, and when President Palmer is stuck in Los Angeles you just know craziness is about to ensue. The Thirteenth Floor has craziness aplenty, but little else worth recommending.


At 11:16 AM, Blogger GlennBeckFan said...

I hear the remake of Sabrina is absolute blasphomy (though not as bad as The Truth About Charlie or whatever that remake was called) but the original has always been my favorite Audrey Hepburn film... well, Sabrina and Roman Holiday.


Post a Comment

<< Home