Catching the Moon

It’s kind of like the 50s version of Taylor Swift’s “You Belong with Me” . . . except she doesn’t belong with him. She belongs with his brother. Who has the same name as the blanky-obsessed friend in the Peanuts cartoons and is about as emotionally available as a brick wall.

Also, it stars Audrey Hepburn, Humphrey Bogart, and William Holden. Sabrina (1954) is about as classically chick-flicky as it gets. And I love it.

Note: This post may contain spoilers. If you don’t want to know, this is the place to stop.

Overview

Image via Amazon.com. Use on this blog believed to fall under Fair Use.

Sabrina, the daughter of a chauffeur, has been in love with David, the playboy son of her father’s employer, all her life. But he hardly knows she exists.

Sabrina’s father decides to send her to a cooking school in Paris to become a cook like her late mother. On the eve of her departure, devastated by David’s indifference, she attempts suicide by running all of the cars in the garage with the doors shut. Linus, the responsible son of her father’s employer, discovers her and saves her life.

While in Paris, Sabrina matures in style and attitude and somewhat recovers from her unrequited love. When she returns, David suddenly notices her — she’s not the little girl he remembered. But he’s already engaged to facilitate a merger for his family’s company — and they are not impressed by his infatuation with Sabrina.

Linus, ever the company man, offers to court Sabrina on his brother’s behalf. Though he is a bit rusty at the romance game, he slowly causes Sabrina to fall in love with him. His plan is to make her fall in love, invite her to Paris with him, and then send her on the boat alone with some gifts to soften the blow.

This is, of course, until he starts falling back. Sadly, it’s too late — Sabrina discovers the plan and willingly goes back to Paris — the last place she was happy. Linus feels awful and decides to call off the merger and send David to Paris with Sabrina. But David figures out that Linus is in love with Sabrina and helps him to realize it. Linus hurries off to the ship to catch Sabrina, and they sail off for Paris together.

Quotables

Quite a few lines from this movie are so good that they’ve become clichés. Others are just as good but still retain their smack. Here are some of my faves . . .

  • “It never rained on the Larrabee party. The Larrabees wouldn’t have stood for it.” — Sabrina/the narrator
  • “Don’t reach for the moon, child.” — Mr. Fairchild
  • “It’s all in the wrist.” — French cooking teacher
  • “You’re in love. And I will venture to go a step further — you are unhappily in love.” “Does it show?” “Very clearly. A woman happily in love, she burns the soufflé. A woman unhappily in love, she forgets to turn on the oven.” — the baron and Sabrina
  • “He doesn’t even know I exist. I might as well be reaching for the moon.” “You young people are so old-fashioned. Have you not heard? We are building rockets to reach the moon.” — Sabrina and the baron
  • “He’s still David Larrabee. And you’re still the chauffeur’s daughter. And you’re still reaching for the moon.” “No, father. The moon is reaching for me.” — Mr. Fairchild and Sabrina
  • “Paris isn’t for changing planes. It’s for changing your outlook.” — Sabrina
  • “I like to think of life as a limousine. Though we’re all driving together, we must remember our places. There’s a front seat, and a back seat, and a window in between.” — Mr. Fairchild
  • “Never resist an impulse, Sabrina. Especially if it’s terrible.” — Linus
  • “And another thing” (after turning down the brim of his hat) “never a brief case in Paris, and never an umbrella. There’s a law.” — Sabrina
  • “Funniest thing. Linus Larrabee — the man who doesn’t burn, doesn’t scorch, doesn’t melt — suddenly throws a 20 million dollar deal out the window. Are you sure you don’t wanna go with her?” “Why should I wanna go with her?” “Because you’re in love with her.” — David and Linus
  • “Nobody poor was ever called democratic for marrying somebody rich.” — Mr. Fairchild
  • “All columnists should be beaten to a pulp and converted back into paper.” — Mr. Larrabee

Creating Great Lines

“Reaching for the moon” is rather cliché today and doesn’t  hold much punch, but back in the 50s? I imagine it would have been spot on.

It’s use in this movie (and probably many of the subsequent uses) speaks of something that seems hopeless, yet is theoretically possible. That’s what the moon was to folks back then (or so I imagine — I missed that era by a few decades). People were fascinated by the moon during this time — the whole Space Race with the Soviets — and we were working toward exploring space and possibly reaching the moon. But it was all theoretical — a distant hope that maybe one day . . .

Lines like this seem cheesy and bland to us now, partly because we’ve heard the phrasing so often. And partly because reaching the moon doesn’t hold the same weight for us in the 21st century as it did in the 50s. We’ve already been to the moon. Multiple times. It’s still a big deal, but it doesn’t seem as unlikely or impossible anymore. We’re on to the next big thing.

Which means writers need to be too. We need to find our own “moon.” If Sabrina were being written today (or tomorrow), what would that line say? The moon has already been reached, so what’s next? “He doesn’t even know I exist. I might as well be reaching for . . . ” Eco-friendly gasoline? Unity in Washington D.C.? Cars that drive themselves? A comprehensible national debt? Alien contact? Comfortable heels?

10 Random Thoughts During the Movie

  1. David really doesn’t notice her stalking him? She’s not exactly being subtle.
  2. That has to be the shortest, most concise suicide note ever — “I don’t want to go to Paris. I want to die.” 
  3. I wish it were that simple. A haircut and a different dress and POOF — your crush suddenly notices you.
  4. Love Bogie and William Holden, but . . . casting dropped the ball on this one. That age difference is almost criminal.
  5. Ha! I love Mr. Larrabee. Smoking in the closet. Too funny.
  6. Yuck! He really does need to work on his date attire. That beanie and sweater just don’t work.
  7. Did he seriously just LIE to her about having once been suicidal? That’s cold, man.
  8. AGH! Just as he’s having second thoughts, she finds the tickets on his desk. Now he has to be honest.
  9. Those are the most disgusting swim trunks I’ve ever seen. Looks like an adult diaper.
  10. Aw! Love the way he got rid of that umbrella. Very sweet.

Have any of you seen this movie? What was your favorite scene? Do you think the leading man/woman age difference is creepy? Any ideas for an updated “moon” line?

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