Breafast at Tiffany’s Cover

Breakfast at Tiffany’s is one of those movies which – thanks to an infrequent movie-going habit, parents who did not permit much television watching, and twenty years spent overseas watching AFRTS where the movies on offer were not top tier – I had never seen, or at least, never watched from beginning to end. So I could come to view it without much in the way of preconceptions, and to see it more or less fresh, save for seeing actors like George Peppard and Patricia Neal as almost impossibly young, younger than I had ever seen them before. It all stands up very well – all but Mickey Rooney with grotesquely oversized buck-teeth, as the Japanese super of a pleasant New York apartment building. Fifty years later, that is a cringe-inducingly offensive bit of stereotyping and stunt casting, a small grubby fly-spot on an otherwise light and airy angel-cake slice of movie.

That it was based on a novel perhaps accounts for a certain kind of dense, and complex feel to it, a sense that all the various characters encountered – some of them just fleetingly in a single scene – have or had their own lives, interests and affections. There are a thousand more stories, behind every window on the quiet street of comfortable brownstone apartments, and a sense that every person at Holly’s cocktail party, the salesman behind the counter at Tiffany’s, and the fussy librarian has their very own enormously interesting life story. At the heart of “Breakfast at Tiffany’s” is an ill-assorted pair of neighbors. Perhaps they are not as ill assorted as all that, for they are both being kept, in the old-fashioned sense of the word. Semi-failed writer Jack is more or less the designated boy-toy of a wealthy married woman who has installed him in the apartment for her convenience. And Holly Golightly – elegant and dizzily charming – lives by her wits and charm, cadging fifty dollars at a time from a circle of escorts and visiting an imprisoned mobster once a week. She has a cat, an all-but unfurnished apartment, and a tendency to flee emotional involvement – with anyone. Her ambitions, if any, are wistful ones about making a home for herself and her younger brother, or marrying a very rich man. Very gradually and naturally, Jack and Holly become acquainted, trust each other, become friends and then realize that they love each other. In real life, love grows in a manner much more like this, much more often than the instant, shake’n’bake romance, which may account for the appeal of this move over the decades since.

Extras are a rather mixed lot: there is strange little feature about cocktail parties, featuring a reunion of the various actors cast as the guests at Holly’s lively cocktail party, reminiscing about their bits of business. It was a very complex bit of shooting, and took up more than a week; if you go back and watch that segment very carefully, you will appreciate all the minor stories happening there. Another feature is a sort of retrospective on portrayals of Asians in the movies, and the (to late 20th-century movie fans) the bizarre and unconvincing penchant for casting Caucasian actors in Asian roles. There is also a feature about Tiffany’s, and a lovely memory by the writer of the company history of Audrey Hepburn writing a graceful dedication page for it. Ms Hepburn and her fashion sense are the focus of yet another. (She did indeed dress beautifully, in ageless and flattering clothes that still look up-to-this-minute current. Any of her gowns and outfits could be worn today without appearing the least bit dowdy or unfashionable.)

Breakfast at Tiffany’s is available through Amazon.com and other retail outlets.

Sgt. Mom is a free-lance writer and member of the Independent Authors Guild who lives in San Antonio and blogs at The Daily Brief. Her current book project – The Adelsverein Trilogy is also available through Amazon.com. More about her books is at her website www.celiahayes.com.

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