Movies watched: Sabrina, Dial M For Murder
Where watched: Home
Movie times: 113 minutes, 105 minutes
Total elapsed time: 1 day, 23 hours, 31 minutes
Sometimes only an Audrey Hepburn movie will do. Have you ever been to a really good massage therapist, one who knows exactly where that troublesome spot in your shoulder is, and soothes the pain away? Audrey’s movies have that effect on me. She can smooth over the rough spots. Not all of her movies; Lord knows she was in her fair share of crap. But most of her performances are great. Roman Holiday, Funny Face, and my favorite, Sabrina.
Sabrina has two of the greatest leading actors of all time in it: Humphrey Bogart and William Holden. Holden was at the peak of his career here, while Bogart was only a couple of years away from his sudden and far-too-early death from cancer. There was tension on the set; Bogart, who was a consummate professional for most of his career, could be petty and petulant when things were not going his way. He felt like an outsider on this film, not part of director Billy Wilder’s sanctum sanctorum. The off-screen tension does not appear on-screen, but there is no real chemistry between Bogart and Hepburn. This is a typical Billy Wilder movie in that it mixes tone, and does so very well for the most part. But most of the scenes that feature Bogart and Hepburn alone have a palpable melancholy undertone. Is it a perfect film? Far from it. But overall, it is delightful, and charming, and it is a thousand times better than the remake.
In addition to the leads, there are a lot of great character actors in this movie. Nancy Kulp (who would stake her claim to fame as Miss Hathaway in TV’s Beverly Hillbillies) plays a servant in the Bogart/Holden household. Francis X. Bushman also has a small role. Also featured in this movie is the fantastic character actor John Williams, in the role of Thomas Fairchild, Sabrina’s father.
John Williams is one of the most trustworthy and stalwart character actors of all time. He was so reliable that Alfred Hitchcock and Billy Wilder both used him multiple times. He is the epitome of British charm and class. After re-watching his brilliant performance in this movie, I decided that I wanted to see some more of John Williams, so I decided to re-watch Alfred Hitchcock’s Dial M For Murder.
John Williams does not even enter this movie until the 55th minute, almost the halfway point. But his character is arguably the most important in the entire movie, for he is the one that unravels the mystery, and saves a life. John Williams won a Tony award for playing the role of Inspector Hubbard in the Broadway performance of this play. He was one of only two actors from the Broadway performance who reprised his role in the movie version.
John Williams appeared in 3 Alfred Hitchcock movies and 2 Billy Wilder movies. He also appeared in 9 episodes of the Alfred Hitchcock Presents TV series (the most appearances by any actor), as well as appearances in The Twilight Zone, Family Affair, Night Gallery, and several other TV shows and movies.
Sabrina may be the most memorable performance of John Williams’ entire career. His affection for his daughter Sabrina, and his sense of obligation and duty to the Larrabee family, are so believable If you have not seen actor John Williams before, you owe it to yourself to watch these movies. He is unique, eminently talented, and unforgettable.