Film / Sabrina
"Isn't it romantic?"

"I have learned how to live, how to be in the world and of the world ... and not just to stand aside and watch. And I will never, never again run away from life, or from love, either."
Sabrina Fairchild

Sabrina is a 1954 Romantic Comedy film starring Humphrey Bogart, Audrey Hepburn and William Holden. It was directed by Billy Wilder and based on a play called Sabrina Fair. It was Audrey Hepburn's second film, meant to capitalize on her rising popularity. The film was nominated for several Oscars and won the award for Best Costume Design, further cementing Audrey Hepburn at the top of the best dressed list for years to come. The film has become a classic of the genre. In 1995, it was remade with Harrison Ford, Julia Ormond, and Greg Kinnear in the respective roles.

The story introduces us to Sabrina Fairchild, the waifish daughter of the wealthy Larrabee family's chauffeur. The Larrabees have two sons: the workaholic Linus (Bogart) and the carefree playboy David (Holden). Sabrina is madly in love with David, and tries to kill herself when he doesn't return her advances, but Linus stops her. Sabrina is then shipped off to Paris to attend culinary school, but still pines for David. She returns home extravagant and radiant, and immediately turns David's head, even though he doesn't recognize her at first. This causes problems as David is about to marry Elizabeth, who is essential to an important company merger. Linus tries to direct Sabrina's attention away from David, and unexpectedly falls in love with her himself.

Not to be confused with Sabrina the Teenage Witch.

The films contains examples of:

  • Adorkable: Sabrina before her Paris transformation.
  • Anguished Declaration of Love: Sabrina gives one to David before her trip to Paris in the remake. Unfortunately, she gives it to Linus by accident.
    Sabrina: If there's anything I can do for you...
    Linus: (stepping out) Can you get me one of those little Eiffel Tower paperweights?
    (Cue Sabrina fleeing.)
  • Arranged Marriage: David is supposed to marry someone against his will because it benefits the economic interests of both families. He agrees to it at the end.
  • Blowing Smoke Rings: Who knew an exhaustion pipe can do this?
  • But for Me, It Was Tuesday: When Sabrina retells the story of her and David's first kiss when they were kids but David doesn't remember.
  • Closet Shuffle: At one point Linus is opening a closet in his room and sees his father hiding in it.
  • Cool Old Guy: The Baron, Sabrina's classmate, who immediately discerns her problems and helps her come out of her shell in Paris.
  • Cutting the Knot: Linus breaks his father's olive jar in order to get the last olive out.
  • Dance of Romance: Sabrina's dreams come true when she has one of these with her longtime crush David... then she dances with his brother Linus.....
  • Deadpan Snarker: Linus is one, with a hint of menace.
    David (1995): I met a real woman! You know, not a...
    Linus (1995): Transvestite?
    • Then there's Patrick Tyson in the remake.
      Maude: Did Elizabeth pick out her dress yet?
      Ingrid: We're still working on the guest list. Six hundred so far, and that's just on our side!
      Patrick: (snarky) That's not a wedding, it's a town.
      Ingrid: Stop, it's going to be wonderful! Elegant but simple, lavish but tasteful...
      Patrick: (snarky) Cheap but expensive.
  • Dialogue Reversal: When the newspaper shares a story about David and Elizabeth becoming engaged, David and Linus have this exchange:
    David: Did you plant this?
    Linus: Me?! I thought it was common knowledge about you and Elizabeth Tyson.
    • Later, news gets out of Linus and Sabrina fleeing to Paris together, causing him and David to have this exchange:
      Linus: Did you plant this?
      David: Me? I thought it was common knowledge about you and Sabrina.
  • Disposable Fiancé: Subverted with Elizabeth. Until the end it looks like David is about to dump her in order to hook up with Sabrina but then he has a change of heart and decides to go through with the marriage.
  • The Dreaded: Linus.
    Sabrina: What was Linus like when he was younger?
    Fairchild: Shorter.
  • Eiffel Tower Effect: The cooking workshop's main window provides a splendid view of the Eiffel Tower.
  • Endangered Soufflé: Happens naturally to Sabrina in Paris when she forgets to turn on the oven in the first place.
  • Everyone Has Standards: In the remake Linus's mother learns of his plan to string Sabrina along then dump her. Linus tells her that she is no stranger to dirty dealing in business. She retorts, "I didn't teach you this."
  • Family Business: Both Larrabee brothers as well as their father sit in the board of directors of the family company.
  • Fiction 500: The Larrabee Conglomerate has its fingers in just about every industrial sector in the world, and its own towering skyscraper in Manhattan. Linus admits that at this point he doesn't even care about making more money, to him that's just a "byproduct" of his managerial activities. To stress their power, Sabrina notes Maude's been on the cover of Fortune, while Linus was on the cover of Time. (David? He did a print ad to sell clothes.)
  • Foolish Sibling, Responsible Sibling: David and Linus. Subverted at the end in the remake when David takes control of the merger.
    Maude: David! When did you ever...?
    David: Mother, you've copied me on the financial standings of this company for 17 years. You just assumed I couldn't read.
    • It's earlier Deconstructed, as David's status as the younger brother may have been a reason for his flightiness.
      Sabrina: My father once asked David why he stopped coming to the office and David said, "What do they need me for? Linus is there."
  • Gay Paree:
    • In the original, where Sabrina spends two years to learn cooking. She comes back having learned head-turning sophistication as well.
    • In the remake, she's a fashion photographer's assistant at Vogue.
  • Goodbye, Cruel World!: Sabrina's suicide letter to her father.
  • Have a Gay Old Time: While Sabrina learns how to make a souffle, the teacher tells her and the other students, "The souffle, it must be gay. Gay like...two butterflies dancing the waltz in the summer breeze."
  • Hypocritical Humor: Larrabee Sr. when calling his wife out for accusing him of having smoked while he is holding a cigar behind his back. His wife has been pressuring him to quit smoking, and he claims to have quit the habit for three months. He actually never quit, and spends most of the film trying to hide his smoking habits from his wife.
  • Idle Rich: In the original film, David Larrabee has no actual job, though he is nominally an executive in the family company. He never sets foot in the office (and one point his brother gives him the address to the office), repeatedly admits that he does not understand anything about the stock market, chases after every pretty woman in Long Island, and attends parties. That is his daily schedule. The introduction mentions that after three failed marriages, David is still living with his parents and he is financially supported by his father. His father is getting a tax deduction due to this financial support for him.
  • Important Haircut: Sabrina loses her ponytail after the Baron jokingly tells her it makes her look like a horse. In the remake, she doesn't have a ponytail, but a huge mop that conceals her face. It is no wonder David genuinely doesn't recognize her when he first sees Sabrina post-snip.
  • Interrupted Suicide: Pre-Paris, Sabrina tries to suffocate herself on carbon monoxide due to her failure to catch David's attention, but Linus stops her. Later, Linus confides in Sabrina that he nearly jumped off of his office balcony after a woman broke his heart, but decided against it, after noticing children playing hopscotch on the sidewalk.
  • Ironic Echo: In the remake, Linus tells David about Elizabeth: "You don't deserve her, but she appears to love you." Linus says the same thing of Sabrina and himself.
  • I Want My Beloved to Be Happy: Used by both parties. Linus knows Sabrina is in love with David even though he [Linus] is in love with her. He tells David to get on the boat with her, and they'll cancel the merger. David recognizes his affection, and takes his responsibility with the company so that Linus and Sabrina can be together.
  • Knuckle Cracking: Larrabee Sr. does this menacingly before giving David a stern rebuke about him dancing with Sabrina at the party.
  • Last-Name Basis: Thomas Fairchild is only called Fairchild by his employers.
  • Like Brother and Sister: In the remake, Maude tries to make Elizabeth's father less paranoid when David and Sabrina are dancing by invoking this trope. His retort?
    "I have a sister. That's not how we dance."
  • Literal Ass-Kicking: David sitting on his champagne glasses.
  • Little Black Dress: Sabrina wears one during the party.
  • Longing Look: Sabrina gives these to David pre-Paris.
  • Love Epiphany: David causes Linus to have one after he jokingly calls Sabrina a Gold Digger who only loved Linus for his money. An offended Linus punches David so hard, he falls backwards onto the table. David proudly declares that he succeeded in helping Linus realize his love for Sabrina.
  • Love Makes You Dumb: The Baron claims to have noticed that a woman who tries to bake a soufflé while happily in love ends up burning it, while one who tries to bake while unhappily in love forgets to turn on the oven.
  • Manipulative Bastard: Linus. He doesn't realize she'd been manipulating him too in ways he didn't expect.
  • Married to the Job: Linus, by his own admission. "If I got married, I'd have to take a dictaphone, two secretaries and four corporation counsellors along on the honeymoon. I'd be unfaithful to my wife every night with vice presidents, boards of directors, slide-rule accountants... This is my home. No wife would ever understand it."
  • May–December Romance: Sabrina is 21. Linus is much older.
  • Meaningful Name: Sabrina is named after a water sprite who saves a virgin from a Fate Worse Than Death. While Linus is probably not a virgin, he's at the very least loveless.
  • Millionaire Playboy: David's love life is like this, until the end when he decides to be more responsible.
  • Missing Mom: In the original film, Sabrina Fairchild's only living family seems to be her father. During a conversation, Thomas Fairchild mentions that his wife used to be the best cook in Long Island, and that they had a good life together. But the implication is that he is a widower, and that his efforts to have Sabrina educated as a cook is his way of ensuring that she follows in her mother's footsteps.
  • Ms. Fanservice: Sabrina washes a car in a tied plaid shirt and Daisy Dukes at one point.
  • Nautical Knockout: This happens to Linus Larrabee in the remake.
  • No Doubt the Years Have Changed Me: David doesn't recognize Sabrina after her two years in Paris.
  • "No. Just... No" Reaction: In the remake, when Linus realizes that David intends to flirt with Sabrina, he reacts like this.
    Linus: David... no.
    David: What are you talking about? I was just...
    Linus: NO.
  • Not Distracted by the Sexy: Linus insists this about Sabrina ("I don't care what she did to her hair!"). He's wrong.
  • Oblivious Guilt Slinging: Sabrina's joy about her and Linus going to Paris makes Linus uncomfortable because it's a lie. He can't take it anymore and ends up spilling the beans to her.
  • Once Upon a Time:
    • Audrey Hepburn opens the original movie by delivering narration that begins like so:
      "Once upon a time, on the North Shore of Long Island, some 30 miles from New York, there lived a small girl on a large estate..."
    • In the remake, Julia Ormond delivers both opening and ending narration containing this phrase.
  • One Steve Limit: Averted in the remake. For whatever reason, Linus has two personal assistants named Ron.
  • O.O.C. Is Serious Business:
    • Linus realizes David is serious when he reminds him that he never visits the office.
    • Then how David realizes Linus is in love with Sabrina: "You'd blow a billion dollars over this? ... Uh... huh."
  • Opening Monologue: Sabrina provides one introducing the setting and major characters.
  • Pan and Scan: Inverted: 4:3 prints actually show more picture than originally shown in theaters. This probably explains why the film never received a widescreen home video release until the 60th anniversary Blu-Ray.
  • Papa Wolf: In the remake, Sabrina's father Up to 11. He even stands up to The Dreaded Linus.
    Fairchild: ...
    Linus: Go on, say it.
    Fairchild: You don't deserve her.
  • Pimped-Out Dress: Sabrina's dress at the party has lots of embroidery, and a voluminous second skirt (in the shape of a Showgirl Skirt) attached to the narrow main skirt.
  • Production Foreshadowing: Linus orders two tickets for the play The Seven Year Itch, which was Wilder's next film. In interviews, Wilder said this was intentional.
  • Protagonist Title
  • Punch Spin Gape: When Linus punches his brother David after he badmouths Sabrina.
  • Race for Your Love: By the time Linus realizes his love for Sabrina, she has already boarded a boat back to Paris. David helps Linus catch up to her by arranging for a tugboat to transport him. In the remake, Sabrina flew back to Paris, so Linus had to take a Concorde to beat her there.
  • Romantic False Lead:
    • David Larrabee.
    • The man Sabrina dates in Paris (remake).
  • Sealed with a Kiss: Averted in the original (which ends with Sabrina and Linus hugging instead), but played straight in the remake.
  • She Cleans Up Nicely: David doesn't even recognize Sabrina when she comes home. He is just stunned when he find out who she is.
  • She's All Grown Up: "Would you have recognized her? That scrawny kid who'd run away when she saw us, her knees painted with Mercurochrome. How do you like those legs now? Aren't they something?"
  • She's Got Legs: The newly sophisticated Sabrina wears Daisy Dukes at one point (it is Audrey Hepburn, after all).
  • Sibling Triangle: The brothers for Sabrina.
  • Society Marches On: In the original, Sabrina goes to Paris to become a chef. Meanwhile, Elizabeth has no discernible profession. In the remake, Sabrina goes to Paris for a photography internship, while Elizabeth is a doctor.
    • In the original film, Elizabeth Tyson gets very little screen time and few speaking lines. Other than the fact that her family owns sugar-cane plantations in Puerto Rico, the viewer does nor learn much about her.
  • That Came Out Wrong: The Tysons in the remake.
    Elizabeth: Every time they try to be funny, it comes out sounding perverse... or terrifying.
  • Unequal Pairing: Both Linus and David are members of the upper crust. Sabrina is a chauffer's daughter. Her father attempts to discourage her budding feelings for this very reason.
    • Subverted in the remake where her father causally reveals that he regularly invested his paycheck into Mister Larrabee's own investments for the entirety of his career as a chauffer. As a result, he's a millionaire and his daughter was unknowingly born into money. Thus, there's no need to worry about her being a Gold Digger.
  • Unlimited Wardrobe: As Christopher Buckley put it, Sabrina apparently takes along "about 10 steamer trunks full of Givenchy" when she returns to America.
  • Verbal Backpedaling: Sabrina does this after she almost lets Linus know what she was up to the night before she left for Paris:
    Linus: Sabrina, do you find it hard to believe someone might want to blot out everything, for sentimental reasons?
    Sabrina: Oh, I believe it! You know what I almost did because of sentimental reasons? I...I went to Paris to blot it out. Maybe you should go to Paris, Linus.
  • Was It All a Lie?: Played straight, then subverted.
  • We Named the Monkey "Jack": Sabrina's poodle is named David.
  • Wham Line: From the remake:
    "Are you telling me you have a million dollars?"
    "No, more like two."
  • What the Hell, Hero?: David gives Linus a big one over being a Manipulative Bastard. When he asks what made him think he could toy with personal lives, Linus snaps with a hint of sadness, "Habit."
  • You Have Got to Be Kidding Me!: In the remake, when Maude reacts to David's bullshit.
    Maude: Do I look stupid? You know I never thought of my self as stupid, but maybe I am!