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Saturday Night Cinema: Breakfast at Tiffany’s

11

Tonight’s Saturday Night cinema classic is ‘Breakfast at Tiffany’s” starring the Audrey Hepburn who gives “one of her most stylish and iconic performances in this charming version of Truman Capote’s famous novella”. For a born and bread New York City girl like like myself, the film is perfection (with the exception of Mickey Rooney).

‘Breakfast at Tiffany’s’: THR’s 1961 Review

On October 5, 1961, the Audrey Hepburn classic, Breakfast at Tiffany’s, hit theaters in the U.S. The Hollywood Reporter’s original review is below:

An unusual love story, glamorous, sophisticated, with more than a touch of the bizarre. Breakfast at Tiffany’s looks like a box office favorite. The Martin Jurow-Richard Shepherd production for Paramount has good names to add to its appeal, including an appealing performance by Audrey Hepburn. Blake Edwards directed.

The film bears only a slight resemblance to the Truman Capote novelette on which it is based. Capote’s work was a minor tragedy. The screenplay by George Axelrod turned the story into a romantic comedy. It has suggestions of grimmer moments, but they are played now only for contrast for what is, eventually, a happy ending. It will be disappointing to admirers of the Capote work, but they are few in number compared to those who will be attracted to and enjoy the film.

Miss Hepburn plays the central figure, a woman like many others in Manhattan, who dresses well and dines well, living chiefly on the “ladies room” change given her by her escort. If the escort of the evening thinks a $50 “tip” pays for something later, this is not how Miss Hepburn plays it. She is, the picture makes clear, immoral but virtuous. Her values undergo a change from her exposure to George Peppard, a young writer, who convinces her responsibility is less confining than her studied irresponsibility.

Edwards’ direction is smart; he has a way with fashionable comedy. Axelrod’s treatment of the Capote story is convincing in the changes it has made although some of his devices are disappointing, being overly familiar. The script is not altogether neat. No justification or explanation is ever made of why Peppard is being kept by a wealthy lady, except that he is a writer and writers, presumably, get involved in things like that.

Miss Hepburn is responsible to a great degree for the credibility of her complex character and gives a winning portrayal. Peppard virtually overcomes the script deficiencies in his character, because he is an exceptionally virile young leading man who achieves the aura of manliness without sweat. Patricia Neal is strong as Peppard’s lady friend. Martin Balsam gives a wonderfully flexible portrait of a Hollywood agent. Buddy Ebsen has charm as Miss Hepburn’s whilom husband. Mickey Rooney gives his customary all to the part of a Japanese photographer, but the role is a caricature and will be offensive to many. Others helpful include Villanoga, John McGiver, Dorothy Whitney, Stanley Adams, Elvira Allman and Alan Reed.

Franz Planer’s Technicolor photography is beautifully balanced, the color for once the same tones throughout, whether exteriors or studio shots. Hal Pereira and Roland Anderson have done imaginative settings, with good set decoration by Sam Comer and Ray Moyer. Sound by Hugo Grenzbach and John Wilkinson is first-rate, and William McGarry’s editing is excellent. Henry Mancini’s score is another plus. — James Powers

Breakfast at Tiffany’s: Audrey Hepburn in Stylish, Iconic Role
February 18, 2006 by Emanuel Levy

 

Blake Edwards directed this charming is slightly sentimental adaptation of Truman’s Capote’s famous novel about a call girl, Holly Golightly (Audrey Hepburn), an eccentric woman who claims to support herself from tips as a powder room attendant.

That he was a replacement director–John Frankenheimer was going to direct–makes his achivement all the more imoressive.

In this serio romantic tale, Holly falls in love with her neighbor Paul (a miscast George Peppard), an aspiring writer who’s actually playboy supported by an older wealthy matron (a terrific Patricia Neal). This presents an obstacle to his growing attraction, as well as his puzzlement by Holly’s erratic behavior, which goes from giving all-night parties for her friends to being lonely and neurotic in the company of her cat.

Things get more complicated when Holly’s past is revealed through the character of Doc Golightly (Buddy Ebsen), a visitor from rural Texas who reveals some of the truth behind Holly’s surface sophistication.

Nonetheless, Edwards makes sure that his movie fantasy, a real Valentine to New York’s Greenwich Village, where Holly resides and Fifth Avenue’s Tiffany’s, which Holly visits whenever her spirits are down, ends in an emotionally satisfying way. Capote purists have always found the film to be too sentimental. Indeed, Holly’s visit to an imprisoned ganglord (Alan Reed) and coming out of powder rooms are mysterious but understandable, due to the restriction imposed by the Code of Production on the portraiture of prostitution on screen.

With one notable exception, the supporting cast, which includes Buddy Ebsen, Martin Balsam, and John McGiver. As Holly’s agent, Balsam is given the film’s best line, when he notes: “She’s a phony, all right, but a real phony.”

That notable exception is Mickey Rooney, who plays Holly’s unpleasant Japanese neighbor. Blatantly racist, even by Hollywood standards of 1961, Rooney is a caricature, all the way with his buckteeth. It’s a note that almost, but not quite, spoils the fun of an otherwise charming and touching tale, adapted to the screen by George Axelrod.

Hard to believe that Capote himself was initially against Hepburn, instead favoring Marilyn Monroe, who would have turned the movie into something else, closer in vein to The Seven Year Itch, the Broadway hit and later Hollywood movie that Axelrod wrote.

Among the benefits is Hepburn’s wonderful rendition of Henry Mancini’s melodic and elegiac song, “Moon River,” which won the Song Oscar and became a popular favorite played in nightclubs and bars for the rest of the decade; Mancini’s score also received an Oscar.

Hepburn was nominated for Best Actress, but lost to Sophia Loren in the Italian movie, “Two Women.” The Academy voters must have been in a somber mood for the Adapted Screenplay Oscar that year went to Abby Mann for “Judgment at Nuremberg.”

Entering a creative and crucial phase of his career, Edward followed up this romantic drama with “Days of Wine and Roses,” before plunging into the Pink Panther movies that would define the rest of his work.

Oscar Nominations: 5

Actress: Audrey Hepburn

Screenplay (Adapted): George Axelord

Art Direction-Set Decoration (Color): Hal Pereira and Roland Anderson; Sam Comer and Ray Moyer Scoring (Dramatic or Comedy): Henry Mancini

Song: “Moon River,” music by Henry Mancini, lyrics by Johnny Mercer

Oscar Awards: 2

Scoring

Song

Cast:

Holly Golighty (Audrey Hepburn)

Paul Varjak (George Peppard)

2-E (Patricia Neal)

Doc Golighty (Buddy Ebsen)

O.J. Berman (Martin Balsam)

Mr. Yunioshi (Mickey Rooney)

Jose da Silva Perreira (Jose-Luis de Vilallonga0

Tiffany’s Clerk (John McGiver)

mag Wildwood 9Dorothy Whitney)

Rusty Trawler (Stanley Adams)

Credits

Produced by Martin Jurow, Richard Shepherd

Directed by Blake Edwards

Screenplay: George Axelrod (based on the novella by Truman Capote)

camera; Franz Planer

Editor: Howard Smith

Music: Henry Mancini

Costumes; Edith Head

The Truth Must be Told

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