Sabrina (1954)

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Released 7-Sep-2001

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Drama Featurette-Sabrina Documentary
Rating Rated PG
Year Of Production 1954
Running Time 108:42
RSDL / Flipper RSDL (63:23) Cast & Crew
Start Up Language Select Then Programme
Region Coding 4 Directed By Billy Wilder

Paramount Home Entertainment
Starring Humphrey Bogart
Audrey Hepburn
William Holden
Walter Hampden
John Williams
Martha Hyer
Joan Vohs
Case Amaray-Transparent
RPI $39.95 Music Frederick Hollander

Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame Full Frame English Dolby Digital 2.0 mono (224Kb/s)
French Dolby Digital 2.0 mono (224Kb/s)
Italian Dolby Digital 2.0 mono (224Kb/s)
Spanish Dolby Digital 2.0 mono (224Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio None
16x9 Enhancement No
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.37:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English
Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

    This is the second film Audrey Hepburn made in Hollywood. I guess that makes it apt that it is the second Audrey Hepburn film I review. The first was Funny Face, and I was disappointed with it, so I approached this one with some trepidation. I'm very pleased to say that this one has turned out much better.

    Sabrina the movie started life as Sabrina Fair, a play by Samuel Taylor. Paramount bought the rights specifically for Audrey Hepburn. They turned the project over to Billy Wilder, a veteran producer and director. He began work with Samuel Taylor to convert the play into a movie, but Taylor dropped out, and Ernest Lehman finished the job. They cast William Holden as the younger brother, and gave the part of the older brother to Cary Grant. One week before the start of shooting, Grant dropped out, and they had to replace him. They got Humphrey Bogart, and I am very glad they did - I can't imagine the film being quite so credible with Cary Grant.

    Sabrina is a fairly simple story. A young girl (Sabrina - Audrey Hepburn), grows up as a chauffeur's daughter in the household of a wealthy family, developing a crush on the younger playboy son (David - William Holden), and being sent away to Paris to study cooking (all chauffeur's daughters learn cooking in Paris, didn't you know?). On her return, she is a dazzlingly beautiful and well-dressed young woman, and she draws the attention of the man she's wanted for so long. Only catch is that he is engaged to be married to the daughter of a man who is about to merge his company with the company run by the elder brother (Linus - Humphrey Bogart), so the elder brother sees it as essential that he break up Sabrina's romance. There are some interesting twists, and I refuse to spoil them for you, so I'll tell you no more about the plot.

    Sabrina has been remade fairly recently, but this is the original, and very definitely the better version. Audrey Hepburn is absolutely perfect as both the unsophisticated waif-like young girl (before she leaves for Paris), and as the much more glamorous young woman when she returns. William Holden makes an excellent playboy, while Humphrey Bogart gets some of the best comic lines, and delivers them completely dead-pan, increasing the humour.

Don't wish to see plot synopses in the future? Change your configuration.

Transfer Quality


    This movie was made in the Academy ratio: 1.37:1. That is very close to the 1.33:1 aspect ratio in which this version is presented. During the 50s, it was quite normal for musicals to be made in colour and wide-screen, while other films continued to be made in black-and-white and in this ratio - that's why Funny Face is wide-screen, and this film is not.

    The image is quite sharp and clear, but shadow detail is somewhat reduced from what we are used to these days. I'm very happy to see that Billy Wilder felt no need for a soft-focus filter - the picture is well-defined throughout. There's some very fine film grain, which is pretty much inevitable in a black-and-white film of this vintage, but it merely adds to the charm. There is no low-level noise.

    The colours range from a fairly bright white, to a deep and satisfying black. There's not much more that we can ask for.

    The print used is clearly a release print (with reel-change markings apparent), but it is quite a clean one - there are not too many film artefacts, and they are not distracting. There's surprisingly little aliasing, and only brief moments of moire or shimmer. I saw no MPEG faults.

    There are nine subtitle tracks, but I only reviewed the English. It is a nice font, easy to read. The content of the subtitles is fairly accurate, if a little abbreviated from the spoken word.

    The disc is single sided, and dual layered (RSDL-formatted). The layer change is located at 63:23. It is quite visible, but untroubling.

Video Ratings Summary
Shadow Detail
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts


    There are four soundtracks available on this DVD: English, French, Italian, and Spanish, all in mono. I only listened to the English soundtrack.

    Dialogue is clear and easily understood. Audrey Hepburn's French is unaccented - a little too good for an American girl, but understandable given her background.

    The score is by Frederick Hollander. Nice pleasant stuff, including some songs that even I have heard (Isn't It Romantic? and La Vie En Rose). Audrey Hepburn sings part of La Vie En Rose, and her singing voice is rather well-suited to the song.

    The mono soundtrack gives the centre channel speaker plenty to do, but the other speakers get the night off. 

Audio Ratings Summary
Audio Sync
Surround Channel Use


    The extras are quite limited.


    The menu is static and silent, with a suitable image in the background.

Sabrina Documentary (11:14)

    This is a fancy name for a featurette. It is quite interesting, concentrating on the process of making the film, and the personalities involved. Well worth a look.

Photo Gallery

    This comprises 22 black and white stills clearly taken on the sets during the making of the movie.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

    The Region 1 version of this disc has identical features, and is presented in the same aspect ratio. Looks like we have a tie. 


    Sabrina is an enjoyable romantic comedy, sporting a decent transfer to DVD.

    The video quality is decent.

    The audio quality is about as good as a 50s mono soundtrack can get.

    The extras are sparse.

Ratings (out of 5)


© Tony Rogers (bio-degrading: making a fool of oneself in a bio...)
Saturday, September 08, 2001
Review Equipment
DVDArcam DV88, using Component output
DisplaySony VPH-G70 CRT Projector, QuadScan Elite scaler (Tripler), ScreenTechnics 110. Calibrated with Video Essentials. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Video Essentials.
AmplificationDenon AVC-A1SE
SpeakersFront Left and Right: Krix Euphonix, Centre: Krix KDX-C Rears: Krix KDX-M, Subwoofer: Krix Seismix 5

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