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A view on Blu-ray by Gary W. Tooze

Sabrina [Blu-ray]

 

(Billy Wilder,  1954)

 

  

  

 

Review by Gary Tooze

 

Production:

Theatrical: Paramount Pictures

Video: Paramount

 

Disc:

Region: FREE! (as verified by the Oppo Blu-ray player)

Runtime: 1:53:35.391

Disc Size: 41,019,731,060 bytes

Feature Size: 28,802,598,912 bytes

Video Bitrate: 29.94 Mbps

Chapters: 14

Case: Standard Blu-ray case

Release date: April 8th, 2014

 

Video:

Aspect ratio: 1.78:1

Resolution: 1080p / 23.976 fps

Video codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video

 

Audio:

DTS-HD Master Audio English 1566 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 1566 kbps / 24-bit (DTS Core: 2.0 / 48 kHz / 1509 kbps / 24-bit)
DUBs:

Dolby Digital Audio French 224 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 224 kbps / DN -4dB
Dolby Digital Audio Spanish 224 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 224 kbps / DN -4dB

 

Subtitles:

English (SDH), English, French, Spanish, none

 

Extras:

Vintage Featurette: Audrey Hepburn fashion Icon (17:35)

Vintage Featurette: Sabrina's World (11:28)

Vintage Featurette: Supporting Sabrina (16:35)

Vintage Featurette: William Holden: The Paramount Years (29:52)

Vintage Featurette: Sabrina Documentary (11:46)

Vintage Featurette: Behind the Gates Camera (5:11)

 

Bitrate:

 

 

Description: Billy Wilder directs the lighthearted romantic comedy Sabrina, based on the play by Samuel A. Taylor. Sabrina Fairchild (Audrey Hepburn) is the simple, na´ve daughter of a chauffeur, Thomas Fairchild (John Williams). They live on an estate with the wealthy Oliver Larrabee (Walter Hampden) and his two sons: workaholic older brother Linus (Humphrey Bogart) and fun-loving younger brother David (William Holden). Sabrina adores the charming David, but he thinks of her as just a kid. Her father sends her away to Paris for chef school, where she meets Baron St. Fontanel (Marcel Dalio), and she returns a worldly, sophisticated woman. David immediately falls for her, but he is already engaged to marry heiress Elizabeth Tyson (Martha Hyer). Sabrina wants to break up the wedding in order to finally catch the man of her dreams, while Linus fights to keep the marriage on in the interest of family business and Mr. Tyson's (Francis X. Bushman) fortune. In order to keep Sabrina away from David, Linus pretends to court her himself. In doing so, they eventually realize their true feelings for each another.

 

 

The Film:

"Once upon a time, on the North Shore of Long Island...there lived a small girl on a very large estate." So begins Sabrina (1954), an enchanting fairy tale about a chauffeur's daughter in love with the younger son of the master of the estate. Sabrina goes to Paris and comes back a polished princess, but her fairy tale has some romantic complications on its way to an unexpected, but happy ending. However, the complications during the creation of this romantic fantasy were sometimes more nightmare than fairy tale.

British ingenue Audrey Hepburn had become a worldwide sensation in her first American film, Roman Holiday (1953). Sabrina, based on Samuel Taylor's Broadway hit, Sabrina Fair, would be the follow-up, and Paramount assigned it to Billy Wilder, one of their top directors. Wilder wanted Cary Grant to play the stuffy older brother Linus, who woos Sabrina in order to distract her from the unsuitable romance with his irresponsible brother David. Grant was unavailable, and Humphrey Bogart, who had just signed a three-picture deal with Paramount, was chosen to play Linus. To play David, Wilder selected William Holden, who had won an Oscar for his performance in Wilder's Stalag 17 (1953). Location shooting would take place on the Long Island estate of Paramount chairman Barney Balaban.

Excerpt from TCM located HERE

For "Sabrina" -- we might as well say it and get it over with, now -- is, in our wistful estimation, the most delightful comedy-romance in years. Its like in the way of fabrication upon the manners and morals of the rich with respect to the so-called working class has not been seen since pre-war days. And its deftly sophisticated plotting of the ways of a man with a maid -- and the ways of a maid with a man's heart -- has not been surpassed since who knows when.

This is enthusiastic talking. And it may sound extravagant in the light of the thinness of the stage play by Samuel Taylor, from which it was made. But a lot has been done with that fable of the chauffeur's daughter and the rich Long Island men since Mr. Wilder laid hands upon it, including the writing of it into a script. And it is in the telling of the story in the motion picture form -- and with a cast that includes Miss Hepburn -- that the magical trick has been turned.

Excerpt from the NY Times located HERE

Image :    NOTE: The below Blu-ray captures were taken directly from the Blu-ray disc.

Firstly, surfing around I see comments sprinkled about by those in the know; "Sabrina began production in late September 1953, and Paramount went all wide-screen in mid-March of that year. Their pre-VistaVision wide-screen ratio is 1:66. I understand that the actual aspect ratio of Sabrina was 1.75:1." I have heard the Australian Blu-ray is 1.33 but I don't know about the European 1080Ps - but I assumed they would be the same as this (1.78:1) but it is, in fact, 1.33:1 (see sample - thanks Per-Olof!). This composition finally looks right.  Sabrina appears pretty sweet in HD.  The image quality shows some grit and minor grain and handsome, solid, contrast. This is dual-layered with a high bitrate and the contrast advances beyond the past SDs. There is a sense of texture in the image and detail can rise to the occasion in close-ups. It has softness but I suspect this is inherent. I thought it looks excellent in-motion and I could see no signs of manipulation. There is not a lot of depth - some in the sailing sequence and other outdoor scenes and I noticed no noise in the darkness in the shadows of the party. This Blu-ray has a consistent feel. By modern standards this is fairly tame visually but as a representation of the original - I suspect that this Blu-ray does as good a job as we are likely to get in regards to the film's video.

 

CLICK EACH BLU-RAY CAPTURE TO SEE ALL IMAGES IN FULL 1920X1080 RESOLUTION

 

 

US Region FREE Blu-ray TOP vs. European Region FREE Blu-ray BOTTOM

 

(Eu BD not expandable captures - contrast/brightness irrelevant - only for comparison of composition)

 

 

US Region FREE Blu-ray TOP vs. European Region FREE Blu-ray BOTTOM

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Audio :

Paramount use a reasonable DTS-HD Master 2.0 channel at 1566 kbps. It supports the presentation quite well. We get the echoes of Hepburn singing La vie en rose a well as music from Rodgers and Hart, Irving Cohn and more. There is a nice subtle depth and dialogue is always clean and clear via the lossless. My Oppo has identified it as being a region FREE disc playable on Blu-ray machines worldwide.

 

Extras :

Supplements consist of the 6 video featurettes previously found on older DVD editions including Audrey Hepburn Fashion Icon, Sabrina's World, Supporting Sabrina, William Holden: The Paramount Years, Sabrina Documentary and Behind the Gates Camera. Although all 'Vintage' - they are quite good - over 1.5 hours worth, especially the piece on supporting actor John Williams. It was also interesting to see Sabrina's World for the ostentatious locations represented in the film.

 

 

BOTTOM LINE:
Classic romance of the highest order starring two of the most magnetic of large-screen personas. It is always gratifying to see the transformation of Sabrina from mousy chauffeur's daughter to Hepburn's big smiling eyes, and the dark brows, full lips, and elegant neck of a lady. Sabrina is a rich, compelling, fantasy for the love-lorn. With Wilder, the master of multiple genres, at the helm - we get a memorable, satisfying and thoroughly beautiful film. And many will be grateful to have the Blu-ray so close to its intended widescreen ratio. Absolutely recommedned!

Gary Tooze

March 20th, 2014

  

  

 

About the Reviewer: Hello, fellow Beavers! I have been interested in film since I viewed a Chaplin festival on PBS when I was around 9 years old. I credit DVD with expanding my horizons to fill an almost ravenous desire to seek out new film experiences. I currently own approximately 9500 DVDs and have reviewed over 5000 myself. I appreciate my discussion Listserv for furthering my film education and inspiring me to continue running DVDBeaver. Plus a healthy thanks to those who donate and use our Amazon links.

Although I never wanted to become one of those guys who focused 'too much' on image and sound quality - I find HD is swiftly pushing me in that direction.

Gary's Home Theatre:

60-Inch Class (59.58” Diagonal) 1080p Pioneer KURO Plasma Flat Panel HDTV PDP6020-FD

Oppo Digital BDP-83 Universal Region FREE Blu-ray/SACD Player
Momitsu - BDP-899 Region FREE Blu-ray player
Marantz SA8001 Super Audio CD Player
Marantz SR7002 THX Select2 Surround Receiver
Tannoy DC6-T (fronts) + Energy (centre, rear, subwoofer) speakers (5.1)

APC AV 1.5 kVA H Type Power Conditioner 120V

Gary W. Tooze

 

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