Breakfast At Tiffany’s (1961)

Untitled-1Breakfast At Tiffany’s is based on Truman Capote’s novella of the same name, but while Capote’s original revolves around a male homosexual befriending a female prostitute, Blake Edwards adaption is about two people falling in love. I’ve never read Capote’s story, so I can’t really make a comparison between the two, but I have a very strong feeling that Edwards’ film would not be as successful or as memorable if he had gone ahead and cast Marilyn Monroe instead of Audrey Hepburn as the fleeting socialite Holly Golightly. There’s just not enough story supporting her character.

But I write this review somewhat biased, biased because I’ve been polluted by tonnes of romantic comedies that all follow Tiffany’s formula for success: carefree girl pulls in a helpless man but refuses to confess her true feelings for him; she makes off with someone else only for a life changing event to bring the two of them back together just so they can share one last kiss before the screen fades to black. This is one of those times when I wish I had been alive in 1961, alive to watch this movie with a clear head, because I think it would’ve made a difference.

Breakfast At Tiffany’s is about a girl named Holly, who moves from town to town without any real goal in life (she can’t even be bothered to name her cat). She complains about getting the “mean reds” and says that the only way she can be happy is to visit Tiffany’s (a high end jewelry shop named Tiffany & Co). She sleeps naked and keeps her apartment in a perpetual state of untidiness. It’s almost as if she’s the Tyler Durden of Hepburn’s Roman Holiday character, Princess Ann, who dreams of having fun and sleeping in the buff. There, she leads a boring and regimented life, but here, some eight years later, she is wild and free to do what she likes when she likes. Maybe Gregory Peck should’ve made an appearance.

She meets a writer named Paul (George Peppard) — who resembles Cary Elwes — and invites him into her apartment without any hesitation, or concern for her safety. Luckily for her, he’s a charming and genuinely harmless individual who almost instantly takes a liking to her. He discovers that she visits mob bosses in prison and passes weather forecasts between them (clearly unaware that they’re codewords of some sort). This would later come back to bite her in the bum when she’s arrested for her involvement in a drug trade. Of course, she escapes, and just before she leaves for South America to marry a rich guy, Paul confesses his love for her.

Tiffany’s is the movie that Audrey Hepburn is remembered for. Its opening scene is of her strolling down a New York City street in her famous Givenchy dress, stopping outside Tiffany & Co and having breakfast. Never has an actress looked more breathtaking in the plainest of clothes. But I remember thinking to myself that the Givenchy dress isn’t the only thing she looks good in; almost every outfit she wears seems to take on a life of its own as it wraps and drapes, even if it’s just a simple white bathrobe. She lights up every scene she’s in, so much so that she makes Peppard’s hair seem shinier. Her natural charisma and almost childlike enthusiasm holds the film together, and I suppose it’s no surprise that she will always be one of the greatest fashion icons in cinema history.

That being said, one woman isn’t enough to carry a film (even if she’s Hepburn). Blake Edwards certainly knows what he’s doing, and his handling of Capote’s material is sharp and clever (except for Mr. Yunioshi [Mickey Rooney], the xenophobic Japanese pug face who lives at the very top). But there’s no extra level, no push for something greater. What he is giving us is a superficial story about a superficial girl, and her only saving quality is the fact that she yearns for a happier life, to feel what she feels — when she’s standing at the window of Tiffany’s — everyday of her life. Maybe it’s this search for genuine happiness that has transcended the decades and continues to influence us today. We all want our Tiffany’s, and it doesn’t matter if we can’t afford it. All that matters is that we enjoy the happiness it brings, even if all we’ve got is a 10 in our pockets.

Best Moment | The very first scene of Holly outside Tiffany’s. There’s a very interesting contrast happening here: this is the place where she claims to be the happiest, yet she looks forlorn as she peers through the glass.

Worst Moment | Any scene with Yunioshi. I’m not Japanese, but I’m familiar enough with them to know that they don’t look, act, nor talk like he does.

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