Sunday, June 19, 2016

SS United States Silver Screen Review: Sabrina (1954)

"...And you're still reaching for the moon."
"No, father. The moon's reaching for ME."
- Quote from Sabrina (1954)

Sabrina is the story of Sabrina (Audrey Hepburn), the daughter of a chauffeur for a vastly rich Long Island family. Sabrina loves the family's youngest son David Larrabee (William Holden), but he barely acknowledges her existence. Sabrina's father sends her to Paris to go to cooking school for two years. When she returns, she finally is able to catch newly-engaged David's eye. But through mishaps and circumstance, she starts to also catch the attention of the family's older son, Linus Larrabee (Humphrey Bogart). A star-studded love triangle romance ensues. Who knows what will happen??

Sabrina was a pretty fun movie to watch. The person I was watching this with wasn't sure they were going to be able to stay up to watch the whole movie [we started the movie later than we expected], but we were both glued to the television from start to end.

The movie had great little lines throughout. David asks, "Where have you been all my life?" Sabrina coyly responds "Right over the garage." It was fun and witty. 

I didn't really feel any romance between Bogart and Hepburn. Bogart seemed to just be there. According to the movie's IMDB page, Bogart didn't like working with her. Holden and Hepburn had great chemistry, probably due to their off-screen romance.

(I have a great theory on how this movie could have turned out. It's a little long and a big tangent, but if you want to see it, it's below the Final Thoughts.)

Let's go find that ship!

There are four ocean liners seen in this movie.

As soon as I heard Sabrina was going to go to Paris, I thought, Ah, we'll get a nice 'Going to Paris by Boat' montage. Not so. She instantly appears there. Two years later, she says she'll be taking an airplane back home, and a second later instantly appears across the pond. Well okay, Sabrina, someone clearly doesn't understand that getting there is half the fun.

When Linus wants to go to France, he buys tickets for a ship. The SS United States? No, the SS Liberte, a well-known French Line/CGT ship (originally the German SS Europa). This becomes the main ship spoken about in the movie and is featured prominently in the climax & end.

The night before the Liberte sails, Linus and Sabrina are in Linus's office. What do they see out the window? The huge forward funnel of the SS United States!

Still from Sabrina (1954), featuring the SS United States

This was the ship's first cameo in a movie. She is not mentioned, but what needs mentioning when you have the most iconic funnels any ocean liner could have?

In the shot above, it looks like another night on luxury liner row. On the far right are the funnels of an unknown Cunard liner. In-between the United States and the Cunard ship is the SS Liberte. I didn't catch her here upon first watching because her dark funnels blend in with the background.

That's a great view our your window, right? Well, it's brought to you by the magic of film. From prominent exterior shots taken, Linus's office building is 30 Broad Street in Manhattan, aka the Continental Bank Building. This building is smack dab land-locked in the middle of the financial district. The United States Lines' pier (86, where the USS Intrepid is currently docked) is in Hell's Kitchen, almost in line with Times Square. About five miles away. That's some view without any skyscrapers in the way. Or, his office is actually on a soundstage and the "view" was another film overlaid on the background.

Still from Sabrina (1954), SS Liberte sails off in the distance.

The fourth ocean liner is a model in Linus's office. The Larrabee family is involved in numerous industries, including owning a shipping line. I assume the ship model is either a prominent ship in the line or a future endeavor Linus is planning. The model is never referred to, and the corner it inhabits rarely gets screen time.

The model ship in Linus's office in Sabrina (1954). This is the
best screen-grab, David (Holden) walks in front of it, so two
shots had to be combined.

Movie: It was pretty enjoyable, pacing holds up well for today. 4/4
SS United States: It's the actual ship. It's just there because it was in town the night they filmed. 2/4

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*My crazy tangent: Sabrina's character was kind of creepy at first. If the beginning of the movie was kept and the rest of it was rewritten today, let me tell you, this would be an entirely different movie. It has the whole setup for a crazy thriller. Sabrina spies on David at the family's party from a tree. She's able to be invisible until she wants to be seen. She follows David, and keeps spying on his romance with a random girl. She's so devastated he's going after the random girl, she tries to commit suicide in the most dramatic way possible - turning on the Larrabee family's 8 cars and closing the garage doors. She goes off to Paris for two years, and comes back an entirely new person. She's fine David is engaged... or is she?

Watch the video below of Sabrina's narrating at the 1:36 mark, and watch for her glance up.

It's exactly the moment when someone with a devious revenge plan would look up.

From there, the 1954 movie takes a romance route. A 2016 movie would have Sabrina take revenge and terrorize (possibly murder) David and his fiancee. Sabrina is clearly an unstable person, ready at a moment to explode her fury. 'If I can't have him, no one will!' Madness would ensue.

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