Breakfast at Tiffany’s (1961)

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9.0 Overall Score
Story: 9/10
Acting: 9/10
Visuals: 9/10

More anti-romance than romance

The movie has been appropriated by people buying into the Hepburn mystique instead of the story

Movie Info

Movie Name:  Breakfast at Tiffany’s

Studio:  Jurow-Shepherd

Genre(s):  Comedy/Drama/Romance

Release Date(s):  October 5, 1961

MPAA Rating:  Not Rated

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Who’s up for some breakfast?

Paul Varjak (George Peppard) is an aspiring writer living in New York City as a paramour of Emily Eustace (Patricia Neal).  When he meets his neighbor Holly Golightly (Audrey Hepburn), Paul discovers he’s never met anyone like her.  Spending her days living off the money of men and trying to keep the life of a socialite, Holly isn’t everything she seems.  As Paul finds himself growing closer to Holly, he begins to question if Holly is even capable of love.

Directed by Blake Edwards, Breakfast at Tiffany’s adapts Truman Capote’s short 1958 novella.  The movie became Hepburn’s most recognized role and was nominated won Academy Awards for Best Original Score and Best Original Song (“Moon River” which producers allegedly wanted to cut from the film).  Breakfast at Tiffany’s also was nominated for Best Actress (Hepburn), Best Art Direction, and Best Adapted Screenplay and in 2012 was selected for preservation in the National Film Registry by the Library of Congress.

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Suddenly, it turns into a high concept crime thriller!

Breakfast at Tiffany’s is one of those cult romantic films, but I always find that odd since it is really an anti-romance.  The movie’s story doesn’t work like a real romance and in general I end up with other emotions when watching it.

The movie kind of depresses me.  Holly is so lost and putting on such a fake show that it is often seen by those around her and it feels as if they are humoring her instead of buying into her projected, forced persona.  Even when she gets called out on it in the end and “resolves” her problems, I don’t see her future being bright because she hates herself so much.  The character is just running and no matter what Paul does, I feel she’s almost beyond the point of saving.

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Meet Holly Golightly…world’s worst pet owner

The movie could have been very different.  Capote wanted Marilyn Monroe for the film and was upset by the selection of Hepburn after Monroe’s people advised her not to play a call-girl (Monroe’s leaving created a domino effect that led to the leaving of John Frankenheimer as director when Hepburn didn’t know him).  The movie also make Peppard the romantic lead for Holly when in the story, the character was a stand in for Capote who had no romantic interest in Golightly.  Peppard, on the other hand, was supposedly difficult and butted heads with many of the other cast including Patricia Neal and director Blake Edwards.

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Ugh…unfortunate, Mr. Rooney…

The most unfortunate thing about Breakfast at Tiffany’s is the uncomfortable scenes involving Mickey Rooney who plays the Asian upstairs neighbor I.Y. Yunioshi.  Almost all parties involved in the movie have denounced picking a white guy to play a very, very stereotype of an Asian man, but at the time it was more acceptable and kind of like trying to watch the blackface portion of Holiday Inn.  It is cringe-worthy and Mickey Rooney claimed he was hurt by the backlash against the character in the years before his death.

Breakfast at Tiffany’s is definitely not a “go-lightly” movie no matter what you might think.  It does have fun, light moments, but it also has a dark edge to it that I think is more pervasive.  If the rabid fan base of sorority girls who plastered Audrey Hepburn in her signature sunglasses on their wall might have scared you away, Breakfast at Tiffany’s is much more layered than you might think.

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Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

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