The 1995 version of Sabrina is, I believe, superior to the 1954 version. In the earlier movie, Humphrey Bogart (Linus) as well as William Holden (David) both appeared to be too old for the 22-year-old Sabrina, played by Audrey Hepburn.
Of course, Harrison Ford as Linus in the later version also showed his age beside Julia Ormond who did a fine job of playing Sabrina, even though many fans would vote for Audrey Hepburn as the quintessential Sabrina. Greg Kinnear seemed a more real David than William Holden who was surprisingly somewhat wooden in the role. Nancy Marchand (Buffalo native) as Linus and David’s mother in the 1995 version was priceless in her portrayal.
In both versions, Sabrina is the daughter of the chauffeur of the very rich Larrabee family. Linus is serious about his commitment to the family business, while David takes advantage of his situation and remains the playboy. The early movie relates that David has been married three times; the later movie makes no reference to this.
It would appear to many that we are looking at two entirely different movies. The earlier version was made in black and white. In that version, when Sabrina moves to Paris to try to forget her life-long love for David, she attends a cooking school; in the later version, she becomes a photographer’s assistant. In the early version, she attempted suicide. This scene was omitted the second time around.
The premise of the movie is problematic. David becomes engaged to Elizabeth Tyson, whose very wealthy family owns a business which would make a great merger with Larrabee Enterprises, if all could fall into place. The engagement is the frosting on the cake for the merger to take place; that is, until David eyes Sabrina after her stay in Paris and jeopardizes his upcoming marriage as well as the merger.
Linus is obligated to step in to save David’s marriage and more importantly, the Tyson-Larrabee merger. He woos Sabrina in order to distract her from David’s omnipresence. It works and Sabrina becomes enamored with Linus. However, Linus is forced to tell her in all honesty that his courtship was a ploy to get Sabrina away from David and back in Elizabeth’s arms.
Up until the end, the viewer is unsure who will end up with whom. It could go either way. Rather than spoil it for the reader, it is best to omit the final scenes from this article.
Other differences between the two versions are obvious. For instance,
In 1954, Sabrina stayed in Paris for 2 years; in 1995, she stayed for 1 year.
In 1954, a 70-year old Baron takes Sabrina under his wing and teaches her; in 1995, a handsome young photographer squires her around Paris.
In 1954, Sabrina brings home from Paris a dog she named David; the 1995 version omits this sequence.
In 1954, Sabrina returns to Paris on an ocean liner; in 1995, of course she takes a jet.
I believe the later version has more hilarious lines as well as more believable scenarios. It was fun to compare the two movies. Netflix enabled me to accomplish this.
Movie: Sabrina – 1954 version; 1995 version