Breakfast at Tiffany's

Breakfast at Tiffany's ★★★★½

You can’t explain love. You can’t explain what attracts you. It just happens. Love is only perfect in fairy tales, in real life, its imperfect, much like Breakfast at Tiffany’s.

I’m not sure when I first fell in love with Breakfast at Tiffany’s. Maybe when I was 10 or 12 catching it on TV. To put this love in perspective, I had also fallen in love with the likes of The Perils of Pauline and The Trouble with Angels. The former I’ve never seen since, and the latter I re-watch now and again to bring back a wave of nostalgia. I feel nostalgic for Breakfast at Tiffany’s too, but it’s different. Perhaps it’s because I read Capote’s classic short story years ago that I appreciate the film even more now.

Blake Edwards’s film can’t compare to the quality of the novel. Hamstrung by the Hayes Code, many sexual nuances in both Paul and Holly’s character had to be eradicated. Sadly, in order for the story to succeed on the screen, Capote’s sad and touching ending had to be changed too. Where the film succeeds, in spades, is Holly. Audrey Hepburn’s magical performance captures the essence of Capote’s flawed, headstrong but fragile heroine. The book is all about falling in love with Holly, and that we do in the movie. Well, I certainly did; head over heels.

Credit has to go to both Edwards and screenwriter George Axelrod for capturing the essence of Holly. The Fifth Avenue opening credits scene, which is not in the original story, provides the perfect introduction to her; a mysterious beauty in an elegant black dress, wearing shades at dawn, lingering at the window of full of riches. Not longing, but rather determination in her eyes.

Edwards comedic transformation, while firmly rooted in its era, provides a counterbalance to slow sadness of the original text, and generally still works. I am a bit biased here, though. When I was very young, I have vague memories of my parents having parties, not as wild, but not too dissimilar. I remember peeking out of my bedroom door to watch the goings on, and the scenes in the film bring back those memories; that particular early 60’s aesthetic. The Elephant In The Room, of course, is Mickey Rooney ( I can’t believe I just wrote that ). Edwards, later, lamented his bad casting decision. Rooney himself was heartbroken at the immediate, and severe, public reaction. He was a man of a different time, and couldn’t see how his performance could offend the audiences of the day. These scenes have always made me cringe, but not this time. I’ve now come to terms with it, and see it the way I do Bing Crosby’s ‘black face’ scene in Holiday Inn. Misjudged, but something of the day.

Disjointed scenes, dated comedy, dubious casting … all flaws; but flawless beauty isn't what you fall in love with. Not me, anyway.

Block or Report

Jonathan liked these reviews