Sabrina (1994): Dull, Unnecessary Remake

Paramount

Hollywood must be running out of idea A remake of Billy Wilder’s charming “Sabrina” in 1994, forty years after it was first made.

It’s hard to imagine any actress today embodying Audrey Hepburn’s immortal role in Wilder’s classic l954 romantic comedy, which co-starred Bogey and William Holden as two wealthy brothers wooing their chauffeur’s daughter.

In Sydney Pollack’s polished but vacuous remake, the rising British movie star Julia Ormond (Legends of the Fall, First Knight) plays the romantic lead, fought over by Harrison Ford, who probably needed a break from his Tom Clancy’s action thriller (Clear and Present Danger) and newcomer Greg Kinnear, who took over when first-choice Tom Cruise smartly turned it down. Watch out for Kinnear, a TV talk show host, rumored to be Hollywood’s next heartthrob.

Sabrina’s long, expensive location shoot arrives in town amidst rumors of tensions on the set, and a story that doesn’t exactly scream out to be remade. Director Pollack is understandably overanxious after the bitter effect of his l990 failure Havana, which was an informal remake of Casablanca, with Redford and Lena Olin.

Ormond, who won the role over competition British ballerina Darcey Bussell and French actress Juliette Binoche, lacks the charm to pull this old yarn off. On paper, it must have sounded a good idea and not too risky, considering that Harrison Ford has never had a flop. But alas, with all due respect, Harrison Ford in not Bogie, and Greg Kinnear ain’t William Holden, yet.

But Pollack’s version, credited to scribes Barbara Benedek and David Rayfiel (based on Wilder’s film) lays on the love story thicker than the original, which was not the hippest tale even four decades ago