• TOP NOTCH (my top choices)
• HONORABLE MENTION (well worth watching)
• YOU MIGHT WANT TO CONSIDER (I like them but you might not)
• CLASSICS (Great movies up through the 1960s - many don't have any rating)

Harrison Ford, Julia Ormond, Greg Kinnear  

Summary - An ugly duckling having undergone a remarkable change, still harbors feelings for her crush: a carefree playboy, but not before his business-focused brother has something to say about it.

Cautions -Mild language and thematic elements

Commentary - My wife and I watched both Sabrina movies (1954 and 1995) and, I hate to admit it - the modern version was better. I hadn't seen either of them for years and, considering my love of classic era movies, I expected to like the Hepburn, Bogart team up the best. But, it just doesn't work.

Up front I will say that, whether old or new, this love story isn't a great one, even in concept. A teenage daughter of a chauffeur is obsessed with the wealthy older playboy son of her fathers employer. She goes away to Paris where she "grows up" and returns with a new haircut. Now the playboy, David, is very interested in her but, because he might leave his current fiancé and spoil a business deal, his older brother, the super serious Linus, must seduce Sabrina to keep her away.

Regardless of the version, Sabrina comes off as an unstable, easily manipulated pawn in the world of men. This is most evident in the '54 version. As much as I like Humphrey Bogart, he was poorly cast as Linus. He never shows any emotional cues that would lead us to believe he ever developed any true feelings for Sabrina, so the ending seems abrupt and out of character. Plus, he is WAY too old for Audry Hepburn's Sabrina. There is nothing about their chemistry that works for me. The story comes off more creepy than romantic.

The '95 remake, fixes some of the problems of the original story. First of all, Harrison Ford does not look like Julia Ormond's grandfather. This time it's Linus's mother (not the father) who is alive and she has much more to bring to the story. Also, Ford plays up the conflict and emotional journey of Linus and, Kinnear, as his brother, David, comes off as much more capable. Instead of useless, David is ready to shine once he get's out from under his brother's shadow.

The best update is Sabrina herself. Instead of the deer in the headlights naïveté of the '54 version, Ormond gives us a comparatively self-possessed young woman who brings something substantial to the relationship with Linus. She gives him a humanity that works it's magic on him. I really appreciated the integrity of her character more.

Both films are incredibly similar but the small changes made in the '95 version made a big difference in the efficacy of the story. It's still not my favorite romance but I think it deserves an honorable mention.


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