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Breakfast at Tiffany's is a 1961 American film starring Audrey Hepburn and George Peppard, and featuring Patricia Neal, Buddy Ebsen, Martin Balsam, and Mickey Rooney. The film was directed by Blake Edwards and released by Paramount Pictures. It was loosely based on the novella of the same name by Truman Capote.

Hepburn's portrayal of Holly Golightly as the naïve, eccentric rich man's escort (not quite the call girl she may have been in Truman Capote's novella) is generally considered to be the actress's most memorable and identifiable role. She herself regarded it as one of her most challenging roles, since she was an introvert required to play an extrovert. Hepburn's performance of "Moon River" helped composer Henry Mancini and lyricist Johnny Mercer win an Oscar for Best Song.

Plot

Early on a fall morning, a lone taxicab deposits Holly Golightly at the Tiffany's jewelry store on Fifth Avenuemarker in New York City. Holly eats a pastry and drinks coffee while admiring the window displays, then strolls home.

At her brownstone apartment building, Holly successfully fends off her date from the night before, who has been waiting in his car all night and is angry that she disappeared during their evening together. Holly then meets Paul Varjak, a new tenant. After feeding her pet cat (simply named "Cat"), Holly chats with Paul as she hurriedly prepares to visit Sing Singmarker prison, a weekly routine from which she earns $100 for an hour's conversation with Sally Tomato, an incarcerated mob boss. Holly does not seem to realize that she is passing coded messages for Sally's drug ring.

Outside the brownstone, Mrs. Failenson (referred to as "2E" throughout the film) arrives and is introduced as Paul's "decorator." Holly drops by to escape a drunken date and sees Mrs. Failenson leave money and kiss Paul goodbye. It is revealed that Paul is a writer who hasn't been published since 1956 and that Holly, at the age of 14, ran away from home with her brother Fred, who is in the army.

Paul attends a wild party at Holly's, where he is introduced to José da Silva Pereira, a handsome, rich Brazilian, and to Rusty Trawler, a pudgy, rich American. Paul also meets O. J. Berman, who is Holly's "agent." O.J. tells him about Holly's transformation from a country girl with a thick accent into a classy Manhattan socialite, but adds that she is a wild spirit, difficult to pin down, and still can't tell if she is "a phony."

Holly is accompanied by Paul to visit Sally at the Sing Sing prison. Back home, Paul can hear Holly singing "Moon River" from her windowsill. Mrs. Failenson rushes into Paul's apartment, worried about a strange man outside.

Paul is trailed by the man when he leaves the apartment. They confront one another in Central Park. The man introduces himself as Doc, claiming to be Holly's husband. He married her—real name Lula Mae Barnes—when she was turning 14 and explains that he has come to New York to take Holly back home to Texas, where he feels she rightly belongs. Holly later explains to Paul that the marriage was annulled. She puts a dejected Doc on a bus to Texas, but only after he warns her that he will no longer support her brother Fred, who is being released from the Army soon.

A partial screenshot of Audrey Hepburn from the film


At a bar, a drunken Holly explains her feeling of responsibility for Fred. She decides to marry Rusty Trawler for his money, but then discovers that Rusty has married someone else. Holly and Paul then spend a carefree, romantic day together, visiting the library and going to Tiffany's, where they have a cheap ring from a box of Cracker Jack engraved. They share a kiss when they arrive home, and it is implied that they spend the night together.

The next day, Paul informs Mrs. Failenson that he no longer needs her. But now, a money-hungry Holly plans to marry José, which angers Paul.

Holly and José return to her apartment one night and find a telegram notifying her of Fred's death. Holly trashes her apartment in grief and her behavior disturbs José.

Months pass. Paul has moved out of the brownstone. He is invited to dinner by Holly, who is leaving the next morning for Brazil. They suddenly are arrested by police in connection with Sally's drug ring. Holly spends the night in lock-up.

The next morning, Paul is waiting with a taxi when she is released from jail. He is in possession of both Cat and a letter from José, in which the rich Brazilian breaks off the relationship due to her headline-making arrest. An emotional Holly impulsively orders the driver to stop and she throws Cat out into the pouring rain.

Paul tells Holly what he thinks of her behavior and leaves the cab. Holly runs after him and together they find Cat and embrace.

Cast



Production

Development

The Oscar-nominated screenplay was written by George Axelrod, loosely based on the novella by Truman Capote. A number of changes were made to the storyline to adapt the story to fit the medium of cinema. Capote's novella included language that was toned down for the film.

In the novella, there is no mention of anything romantic going on between Holly Golightly and the character who is named Paul in the film. The character of 2E (Patricia Neal) was invented for the film. Mrs. Failenson is called 2E because her real name is Emily Eustace.

In the novella, Mag Wildwood, a model with a stuttering problem, moves into Holly's apartment after Holly falls out with the novelist upstairs. In the film, Mag is a guest at Holly's party and brings Rusty Trawler with her.

The film also changed the novella's unresolved, open ending to a more conventional "Hollywood" romantic happy ending.

Pre-production

Capote, who sold the film rights of his novella to Paramount Studios, wanted Marilyn Monroe to play the role of Holly Golightly in the film. Barry Paris references a quote by Capote: "Marilyn was always my first choice to play the girl, Holly Golightly." Screenwriter Axelrod was hired to "tailor the screenplay for Monroe." When Hepburn was cast instead of Marilyn, Capote remarked: "Paramount double-crossed me in every way and cast Audrey."

Kim Novak was approached to play the role of Holly Golightly, but she turned it down, for fear of being typecast as a scared sex kitten.

Originally producers Martin Jurow and Richard Shepherd had picked John Frankenheimer as the director, but as production began they replaced him, fearing that Frankenheimer would make the film "too dark".

Filming and music

Most of the exteriors were filmed in New York Citymarker, except the fire escape scenes and the alley scene at the end in the rain where Holly puts Cat out of the cab and then Paul and Holly look for Cat. All of the interiors, except for portions of the scene inside Tiffany & Company, were filmed on the Paramount Studios lot in Hollywood.

It has been rumored that the film's on-location opening sequence, in which Holly gazes into a Tiffany's display window, was extremely difficult for director Blake Edwards to shoot. Although it was simple in concept, crowd control, Hepburn's dislike of pastries, and an accident that nearly resulted in the electrocution of a crew member are all said to have made capturing the scene a challenge. However, Edwards, in an interview given for the 45th anniversary DVD, said that the sequence was captured rather quickly due to the good fortune of an unexpected traffic lull despite the location in the heart of Manhattan.

Hepburn introduced the film's signature song, "Moon River" by Henry Mancini, with lyrics by Johnny Mercer. Sung by Hepburn, it was written to her singing range based on the vocal solos she had performed in 1957's Funny Face. According to Mancini and Edwards, a studio executive hated the song and demanded it be cut from the film; Hepburn, who was present when this proclamation was made, responded to the suggestion by standing up and saying, "over my dead body."

Reception

Influence

Hepburn as Holly, carrying an oversized cigarette holder, is considered one of the most iconic images of 20th century Americanmarker cinema.

One of three dresses designed by Givenchy for Hepburn for possible use in the film sold at auction by Christie's on December 5, 2006 for £467,200 (~US$947,000), about seven times the reserve price.

The film rejuvenated the career of 1930s movie song-and-dance man Buddy Ebsen, who had a small but effective role in this film as Doc Golightly, Holly's ex-husband. His success here led directly to his best-known role as Jed Clampett on The Beverly Hillbillies.

Criticism

The film has been criticized for its portrayal of the character Mr. Yunioshi, Holly's bucktoothed, stereotyped Japanese neighbor. Played by Caucasian Mickey Rooney, Rooney wore Yellowface makeup to change his features to a caricatured approximation of a Japanese person. The issue was raised in the 1993 film Dragon: The Bruce Lee Story, when Bruce Lee and his girlfriend Linda Emery (portrayed in the film by Jason Scott Lee and Lauren Holly) watch Breakfast at Tiffany's in the theater, but Linda suggests they leave midway through the picture after she notices that Bruce is upset at the stereotypical depiction of an Asian man portrayed by Mickey Rooney.

In the 45th anniversary edition DVD release, producer Richard Shepherd repeatedly apologizes, saying, "If we could just change Mickey Rooney, I'd be thrilled with the movie." Director Blake Edwards stated, "Looking back, I wish I had never done it...and I would give anything to be able to recast it, but it's there, and onward and upward." In a 2008 interview about the film, 87-year-old Rooney said he was heartbroken about the criticism and that he had never received any complaints about his portrayal of the character.

A free outdoor screening in Sacramentomarker, California, scheduled for August 23, 2008, was replaced with the animated film Ratatouille after protests about the character Mr. Yunioshi. The protest was led by Christina Fa of the Asian American Media Watch. In light of the protest, Sacramento vice mayor Steven Cohn stated that "the intent was never to create controversy, to make political statements or to be on the avant garde of the movie world, let alone to offend significant members of our community."

Awards and honors

Academy Awards

Award Person
Academy Award for Original Music Score Henry Mancini
Academy Award for Best Song: "Moon River" Johnny Mercer

Henry Mancini
Nominated:
Academy Award for Best Actress Audrey Hepburn
Academy Award for Best Art Direction Hal Pereira

Roland Anderson

Sam Comer

Ray Moyer
Academy Award for Writing Adapted Screenplay George Axelrod


Other awards



American Film Institute recognition

Soundtrack

DVD availability

Breakfast at Tiffany's was one of the first Hepburn films to be released to the home video market in the early 1980s, and is also widely available on DVD. On February 7, 2006, Paramount released a 45th anniversary special edition DVD set in North America with featurettes not included on the prior DVD release:
  • Audio Commentary - with producer Richard Shepherd
  • Breakfast at Tiffany's: The Making of a Classic - a making-of featurette with interviews by Edwards, Neal, the "laughing/crying" woman from the party, and Sean Ferrer, Hepburn's son.
  • It's So Audrey! A Style Icon - a short tribute to Hepburn.
  • Brilliance in a Blue Box - a brief history of Tiffany & Co.
  • Audrey's Letter to Tiffany - an accounting of Hepburn's letter to Tiffany & Co. on the occasion of the company's 150th anniversary in 1987.
  • Original Theatrical Trailer
  • Photo Gallery


On January 13, 2009, a remastered Centennial Collection version of the film was released. In addition to the special features on the 45th anniversary edition, this version includes:
  • A Golightly Gathering - Reuniting some of the past cast members from the party with interviews on their experiences filming that segment.
  • Henry Mancini: More Than Music - A featurette about Henry Mancini, "Moon River" and interviews with Mancini's wife and children.
  • Mr. Yunioshi: An Asian Perspective - Documentary discussing the reaction and Asian perspective of the character of Mr. Yunioshi, one of the most controversial characters in film.
  • Behind the Gates - A tour through Paramount Studios


Stage adaptations

In 1966, David Merrick produced a Broadwaymarker musical of the same name starring Mary Tyler Moore as Holly Golightly and Richard Chamberlain as Paul. The troubled production closed after four previews.

In 2004, a new musical adaptation of the film made its world debut at The St. Louis Muny.

In May 2009, actress Anna Friel confirmed that she will star in a West Endmarker adaptation of the film. The show is due to start in September 2009 at the Haymarket Theatremarker.

Further reading

  • Breakfast at Tiffany's, by George Axelrod. Published by Paramount Home Entertainment (UK), 1960. (film script)
  • Breakfast at Tiffany's: A Short Novel and Three Stories, by Truman Capote. Published by Random House, 1958.
  • Breakfast at Tiffany's: Complete Dialogues


References

  1. Spoto, Donald. Enchantment: The Life of Audrey Hepburn. New York: Harmony Books, 2006. Page 204. ISBN 0-307-23758-3
  2. Spoto, Donald. Enchantment: The Life of Audrey Hepburn. New York: Harmony Books, 2006. Page 204 - 205. ISBN 0-307-23758-3
  3. Erwin, Ellen and Diamond, Jessica Z. The Audrey Hepburn Treasures. New York: Atria Books, October 2006. Page 107. ISBN 978-0743289863.
  4. Spoto, Donald. Enchantment: The Life of Audrey Hepburn. New York: Harmony Books, 2006. Page 203. ISBN 0-307-23758-3
  5. Audrey Hepburn Breakfast At Tiffany's, 1961
  6. Breakfast at Tiffany's: The Making of a Classic


External links




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