Breakfast at Tiffany’s: Anniversary Edition
March 14, 2006
Starring: Audrey Hepburn, George Peppard, Patricia Neal, Buddy Ebsen, Martin Balsam, José Luis de Villalonga, John McGiver, Alan Reed, Dorothy Whitney, Beverly Powers, Stanley Adams, Claude Stroud, Elvia Allman, Orangey, Mickey Rooney,
Based on the novella by Truman Capote, Breakfast at Tiffany’s (1961) is one of those classic, quintessential New York City movies, like Sweet Smell of Success (1957), The World of Henry Orient (1964) and Manhattan (1979). It is a snapshot of the city at a particular point in time. It is also one of Audrey Hepburn’s signature roles that she will always be remembered for.
Right from the start, with the shots of Holly Golightly (Hepburn) walking through the deserted streets of the city while Johnny Mercer sings “Moon River,” director Blake Edwards establishes a wistful, romantic atmosphere. Holly is a carefree, single girl living a glamourous life in the Big Apple. She was clearly the prototype for Carrie Bradshaw and the girls in Sex and the City. Holly is “crazy about Tiffany’s,” the legendary jewelry store that we see her staring at dreamily in the opening credits. For Holly, going to Tiffany’s is like going to church.
Paul (Peppard), a struggling writer moves into her building and is quickly introduced to the whirlwind force of nature that is Holly. He’s been working on a novel for five years but one gets the sense that he lacks inspiration. He seems a bit defeated, still stinging from a bad review in The New York Times years ago (which he can still quote from, bitterly). Holly dreams of marrying a rich man – what better way to maintain her glamourous life? As the film progresses, we, along with Paul, learn that there is much more to Holly than meets the eye.
Audrey Hepburn is absolutely adorable as Holly, an irresistible, charming individual. Under Holly’s bubbly exterior, Hepburn’s performance hints at a loneliness, an inner sadness. She conveys a heartbreaking vulnerability underneath her cheery façade. One gets the feeling that she needs to be rescued, to be saved and this gives the film a melancholic tone.
She was wonderful chemistry with George Peppard who plays it cool, downplaying his role which acts as a nice contrast to Hepburn’s flamboyance. He has a tough job of playing the straight man to Hepburn’s colourful Holly. He is the audience surrogate. However, Peppard is excellent because he knows exactly how to react to all of Holly’s outrageous behaviour. At first, his character seems a bit on the bland side but as the film progresses we get bits and pieces of his past which flesh out his character.
The film’s only blemish is the racist Asian caricature played by Mickey Rooney that is horribly dated and offensive. Fortunately, he is only a small part of the film. Regardless, Breakfast at Tiffany’s is a great film about two lonely people each harbouring their own dark secrets and that find one another and fall in love.
There is an audio commentary by the film’s producer Richard Shepherd. He candidly speaks about his opposition to Rooney playing a Japanese man but Edwards wanted his scenes kept in. Apparently, Marilyn Monroe wanted to play Holly but Hepburn was Shepherd’s first choice. There are quite a few lulls of silence between comments which makes listening to this track something of a chore. But when he is talking, Shepherd recalls several factoids and anecdotes about filming this classic.
“The Making of a Classic” is a retrospective featurette. Shepherd wanted Hepburn to play Holly but Paramount didn’t think she was right for the part. Cast members, friends and family gush about Hepburn. Blake Edwards recounts some decent anecdotes about filming and admits that he didn’t want Peppard to play Paul but grew to appreciate him. Everyone, including Edwards, wishes that they could have recast Rooney in the role of the upstairs Japanese neighbour.
“It’s so Audrey! A Style Icon” examines Hepburn’s look in the movie. She was not considered a classic beauty but was very beautiful. She flew against the voluptuous Jayne Mansfield type popular in the 1950s. Hepburn had a great eye for fashion and what suited her body type. This is illustrated by numerous clips from several of her films that show off her personal style.
“Brilliance in a Blue Box” takes a look at the famous jewelry store Tiffany’s. They talk about the famous Tiffany Canary diamond – the largest at the time – and how Hepburn was one of the select few that ever got the chance to wear it. Some of the store’s history is covered but this feels suspiciously like a promo for the store.
“Audrey’s Letter to Tiffany’s.” Hepburn was a huge admirer of the store and wrote a preface for the 50th Anniversary book in 1987. This letter is read by one of the store’s representatives.
Finally, there is the original theatrical trailer.