First off let me say that it’s a good thing that they never remade this movie because that would have been idiotic and foolish and would have just a worthless piece of…what? They did what? With her? Are hallucinogenics a requirement to be the person who greenlights films?
Sabrina the story of a young woman who has always loved the young rich rake her family works for…but ends up falling for his older more serious brother. It’s a classic with some beautifully timed scenes of comedy and wit…and with the rare appearance of Bogart in a comedy.
However, while it’s a classic, I will be the first to admit you have to be in just the right mood for this film to enjoy it…otherwise there are just so many plot points that just don’t work. You spend most of the movie loathing William Holden’s character of David Larrabee: the younger son of a wealthy family who exhibits every cliché of the vulgar and useless rich. Yes lots of jokes are wonderfully made at David’s expense, but if you’re not in the right mood you just don’t understand why the family didn’t have the brat exposed at an early age. And you also have to be in right mood to ignore Audrey Heburn’s Sabrina, and her rather naïve and childish behavior. The only character you do like throughout most of the film is Linus Larrabee, Humphrey Bogart’s rather likable rich executive…and even then you have to overlook things like age and temperament difference (I will never understand Hollywood’s obsession with sticking Hepburn with significantly older men…Bogart, Peck, Grant…).* Complaints aside, it is a good movie, you just have to be in the right mood to ignore the odd setups.
So let’s get to the truly positive aspects of this film. Linus Larabee played by Humphrey Bogart. Now some people I know find him distasteful for keeping Sabrina and David apart via his shrewd and not-so-shrewd stratagems (Yeah, cause letting her go off with the eternal playboy David who would use her and throw her away would be so much more humane?).
But what I really love is that Linus, and by extension the writer of the film, understood the true and positive nature of capitalism, outsourcing, and globalization.
LINUS LARRABEE: What’s money got to do with it? If making money were all there were to business it’s hardly worthwhile going to the office. Money is a by-product.
DAVID: What’s the main objective? Power?
LINUS: Agh! That’s become a dirty word.
DAVID: Well then, what’s the urge? You’re going into plastics now. What will that prove?
LINUS: Prove? Nothing much. A new product has been found, something of use to the world. So, a new industry moves into an undeveloped area. Factories go up, machines are brought in, a harbor is dug and you’re in business. It’s purely coincidental of course that people who’ve never seen a dime before suddenly have a dollar. And barefooted kids wear shoes and have their teeth fixed and their faces washed. What’s wrong with a kind of an urge that gives people libraries, hospitals, baseball diamonds and movies on a Saturday night?
Capitalism creates prosperity and wealth where none existed before.
And while more data is presented even Bhagwati’s book In Defense of Globalization, does not put the power of capitalism so succinctly as Linus’ speech.
Capitalism, business, creation, innovation, this is what rich can bring us through investment and management…
…and occasionally a romantic plot line as well.
This is actually what motivates a lot of people—this is the motivation of Ayn Rand’s heroes that she could never actually articulate in a way that was acceptable to most people—this is why capitalism works, because people love creating things that make the world better AND get paid to do it! You mean I get to do something great AND make a fortune? Sign me up.
The romance, the comedy, the bizarre situations, for me all is secondary to the beauty of this one little speech.
*Not to mention this film would almost be more sympathetic from the viewpoint of David’s fiancée as her future brother-in-law distracts the gold digging chauffer’s daughter who seems to have no qualms about going after an engaged man…you really have to wonder how the original pitch session went, “So we’re rooting for the girl who is trying to steal a man from his fiancée over nothing more than an infantile crush? Oh, no, we’re rooting for the guy old enough to be her father to get her?” Granted, the movie is far better than my cynical side is suggesting…but still, it has these elements are just a little off kilter. **
**I think this election year is just making me more jaded than ever and I’m just nitpicking.