Sabrina (1954) Poster



This was the second film in a row where Audrey Hepburn gets her hair cut as a symbol of maturity. The first was in Roman Holiday (1953). It is also the first of four films in a row where she'd play a character romantically linked with a man old enough to be her father.
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Humphrey Bogart was a last minute replacement for Cary Grant (supposedly, Grant rejected the part because he did not want to carry an umbrella onscreen). Bogart and William Holden couldn't stand each other. Bogart disapproved of Audrey Hepburn (he wanted his wife Lauren Bacall in the role), while Holden fell in love with her. Bogart got $300000, Holden got $150000, and Hepburn only $15000. Asked how he liked working with Hepburn, Bogart replied: "It's OK, if you don't mind to make a dozen takes."
Co-stars Audrey Hepburn and William Holden fell in love during the making of this film, but Hepburn broke off the relationship on learning that Holden could not have children.
When Linus takes Sabrina to the theatre, they see the play "The Seven Year Itch", which was director/writer Billy Wilder's next movie project. The play is mentioned at least twice.
The film began a lifelong association between costume designer Hubert de Givenchy and Audrey Hepburn.
During production Billy Wilder was continuously working on the script. One day he asked Audrey Hepburn to feign illness so he would have enough time to finish the scene to be shot.
Many critics felt that Humphrey Bogart was miscast in the film, and that William Holden should have played Linus with a younger actor as David.
Humphrey Bogart did not get along with Audrey Hepburn and William Holden. He nicknamed Holden "Smiling Jim", and said that Hepburn was quite untalented and could not act.
Originally titled "Sabrina Fair", the title was changed in the US so audiences wouldn't link it with highbrow stories like "Vanity Fair".
Because of the costumes' high price, Paramount insisted that Audrey Hepburn pay for them herself as part of her personal wardrobe.
One of Givenchy's costumes, a black cocktail dress, became a fashion sensation after the film's release, and its high neckline became known as the "Sabrina neckline."
The estate on which the film was shot actually belonged to Paramount Pictures chairman Barney Balaban.
Although Hubert de Givenchy provided Audrey Hepburn's wardrobe, Edith Head won an Oscar for Best Costumes, as Givenchy is uncredited. Head, as the film's official costume designer, was given credit for the costumes, although the Academy's votes were obviously for Hepburn's attire. Head did not refuse the Oscar. In a 1974 interview, Head stated that she was responsible for creating the dresses, with inspiration from some Givenchy designs that Hepburn liked, but that she made important changes, and the dresses were not by Givenchy. After Head's death, Givenchy stated that Sabrina's iconic black cocktail dress was produced at Paramount under Head's supervision, but claimed it was his design.
Ernest Lehman, whom Paramount borrowed from M-G-M, worked frantically to complete the script during filming and eventually suffered a nervous breakdown. One scene was written during a lunch break and shot that afternoon in seventy-two takes.
Hubert de Givenchy originally thought he would be providing wardrobe for Katharine Hepburn, as he had never heard of Audrey Hepburn before they were introduced.
Like Sunset Blvd. (1950), this film started production without a finished script. Ernest Lehman worked himself to exhaustion working on the script with Billy Wilder during production. One day, when Lehman did not have an extra copy of a scene rewrite to give to Humphrey Bogart, Bogart exploded. Wilder told his crew they would not film another foot of film until Bogart apologized to Lehman. Bogart invited Lehman to his dressing room and shooting eventually continued.
Humphrey Bogart was very unhappy during the filming, convinced that he was totally wrong for this kind of film, mad at not being Billy Wilder's first choice, and not liking William Holden or Wilder. But Wilder's offbeat casting produced a performance that critics generally considered successful. Bogart later apologized to Wilder for his behavior on-set, citing problems in his personal life.
Samuel A. Taylor, who is credited as a co-screenwriter, quit the film after Billy Wilder substantially altered his play.
The location used to portray the Larrabee family's mansion in Glen Cove, New York, was 'Hill Grove', the home of George Lewis in Beverly Hills, California. This mansion was later demolished during the 1960s.
Billy Wilder's last film for Paramount Pictures before his contract ended in 1954.
Lewis Stone was cast in a key supporting role of Oliver Larrabee, but when he suffered a fatal heart attack in 1953, he was replaced by Walter Hampden.
Audrey Hepburn originally wanted famed couterier Cristbal Balenciaga to design her costumes, but he turned her down. She then asked Hubert de Givenchy, Balenciaga's lesser known proteg. (One modern source claims that Billy Wilder's wife Audrey discovered Givenchy during a Paris shopping spree and brought him to her husband's attention.)
The sports car driven by the brothers is a Nash-Healey.
Paramount considered changing the film's title to The Chauffeur's Daughter.
The original title of "Sabrina Fair" was reinstated in the UK due to well known TV personality, Sabrina (real name Norma Sykes) who became an icon simply by appearing on The Arthur Askey Show (1961). Askey, at little over 5 feet tall got huge laughs just by standing next to the statuesque Sabrina, whose substantial bosom became her trade mark, never spoke any lines. The film distributors thought the momentary stardom of the Rubenesque Sabrina in the UK would mislead British audiences.
In addition to Billy Wilder's two mentions in the screenplay of his next project, The Seven Year Itch (1955), there was also a line of dialogue that included the name of a film just written by Wilder's co-writer, Ernest Lehman - Executive Suite (1954), which also starred 'William Holden'. Linus (Humphrey Bogart) uses the phrase in the sailboat scene with Sabrina (Audrey Hepburn).
This was Humphrey Bogart's first film for Paramount.
Paramount paid $75,000 for the rights to Samuel A. Taylor's play, prior to its first production. Paramount had bought the rights with the proviso that the film would not be released until the play had run for one year.
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The original Broadway production of "Sabrina Fair" by Samuel A. Taylor opened at the National Theater on November 11, 1953 and ran for 318 performances.
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Some modern sources contend that Audrey Hepburn, whose previous film was Paramount's hit Roman Holiday (1953), had read Samuel A. Taylor's play before Paramount's involvement and convinced the studio to buy it for her. Other modern sources state that Billy Wilder found the play and suggested that the studio, to whom he was under contract, buy it as a vehicle for Hepburn.
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The tugboat's name is Maude Larrabee (the matriarch of the family).
The working title of this film was Sabrina Fair.
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William Holden and Audrey Hepburn had just won Best Actor and Best Actress at the previous Academy Awards for Stalag 17 (1953) and Roman Holiday (1953) respectively.
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The trivia item below may give away important plot points.

The scene in which David forces Linus to reveal his love for Sabrina had to be shot before Wilder and Lehman had decided whether Linus would end up with Sabrina, because William Holden had to leave for another role.

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