Frankie and Johnny and the remake of “Sabrina” appeared to be slam dunks for Paramount when they were released in 1991 and 1995, respectively. Despite name casts and respectable reviews, both were commercial disappointments, and various theories of varying ludicrousness were bandied about (particularly in the case of the former–one thought was that the Clarence Thomas-Anita Hill hearings had the target female audience glued to the television instead of at the cinemas). Away from the marketing hype, hopefully audiences will be able to see the films as the charmers that they are.
Sydney Pollack’s take on Billy Wilder’s 1954 romance “Sabrina” had a lot of history to fight against; after all, who could possibly fill the shoes of the legendary Audrey Hepburn in the title role? Then-hot Julia Ormond was tapped for the impossible task, and the cold reception she received–not to mention the career deep freeze she experienced not long after the film’s release–seem especially unfair after watching this film with fresh eyes. Certainly no one could possibly live up to Hepburn’s luminous turn as the made-over chauffeur’s daughter caught between the affections of two polar opposite brothers (Harrison Ford and Greg Kinnear here), but on her own terms, Ormond definitely gives an appealing performance and offers ample reason why anyone would be bewitched by her. While I was a bit overenthusiastic in my original reaction to it in 1995, I still think the film to be a lovely, underrated update, and I also still prefer Ford’s take on slow-to-warm older brother Linus to Humphrey Bogart’s awkward and uncomfortable work in the original.
Since both films were notable box office underachievers, it’s no surprise that for their DVD premieres, Paramount has taken the barebones approach: nothing more than average audio/video transfers and the theatrical trailer, though the “Sabrina” disc also offers a French language track.
Sabrina subtitles: 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen; English 5.1 Surround; English Dolby Surround; French stereo; English subtitles; English closed captioning.