Sabrina – Billy Wilder
Sabrina is next sent to Paris by her father, who hopes that the cooking school she attends will cure her of her hopeless ambitions and romantic dreams and prepare her for servant work. Sabrina, however, cannot cook no matter how hard she tries, and she is miserable in cooking school. Then an elderly baron adopts her, and two years later, Sabrina returns to Long Island a glamorous, chic, and poised woman, thanks to the baron’s tutelage. As Sabrina waits for her father to-pick her up from the station, David happens to drive by, and, not recognizing Sabrina as the chauffeur’s daughter, he picks her up. Not until they both arrive at her destination and David realizes that he is home does Sabrina reveal her identity; and David determines to see more of the transformed woman.
At this point Sabrina enters another important phase in her education. On the verge of beginning a romance with a womanizer, she meets a second man, older and wiser than David—his brother Linus. In terms of convention, he represents the perfect match for Sabrina: he is wise and reliable as well as romantically interested, and Sabrina is gradually won over. Wilder, however, turns the genre conventions topsy-turvy by making the older man turn out to have dishonest intentions, and making the shallow playboy show him the error of his ways. Sabrina, trying to make sense of the men who court her, follows the path the audience expects any girl in her position to follow—and her world almost collapses around her as a result.
Sabrina is at first delighted to have made a big hit with David. She accepts his invitation to a party at the Larrabee,mansion, and when she arrives, she is the center of attraction and has all the men in the room interested; but David keeps his prize to himself. Linus, meanwhile, watches his brother’s growing involvement with Sabrina with some trepidation. Linus, for business purposes, has already arranged for his easily amused brother to marry a sugar heiress. The marriage will improve the Larrabee fortune and make little difference to David, who can never keep his mind on anything for long anyway. In the best interest of the business, Linus decides to date Sabrina himself and wean her away from his brother. It is also, incidentally, in her own best interest, since she is still too naïve to see David for what he really is.
Linus thus wines and dines Sabrina, who soon realizes that David suffers by comparison. She begins to fall in love with the man who seems to have the better character; and, to his dismay, Linus also develops a keen interest in Sabrina. Linus, however, is determined to belong only to his business and plans to get rid of Sabrina. He tells her that he has booked passage for them aboard an ocean liner; when the ship sails, Linus is not on board, and Sabrina heads out to sea alone. When Linus shows up at the board meeting, David, who expected his brother to be honeymooning at sea, realizes what Linus has done. David gives his brother a lecture on the importance of love over business; Linus sees his error and takes a helicopter out to the ship to join Sabrina. David stays to watch over the family fortune, and so an uncertain role reversal is made complete.
With that ending Sabrina manages to include one more form of conventional film education, that of the singleminded businessman discovering the importance of his private life. In the combination of these various conventions, however, Sabrina manages to undercut them all. The viewer feels uneasy about any of the structures of romantic education proposed in the film. The happy ending does have a couple sailing for Paris, but the complications which got them there reveal a fragile set of assumptions.
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