Breakfast at Tiffany's
There have been hundreds of thousands of films since the motion pictures have become a major source of entertainment. Overall that time many are forgettable flashes in the pan. Others gain fame as classics, and a few become part of our collective social consciousness. One such piece of cinematic history is ‘Breakfast At Tiffany's.’ While some of the younger people out there may not be all that familiar with this movie it is indeed one of the most influential movies of its time. It even made its way into the popular music scene in 1996 with a song by the same title by ‘Deep Blue Something.’ This is a classic romantic comedy, and few that have followed have come up to the standards it set for the genre. It was produced by the Paramount Studios back in 1961. Paramount was founded in 1912, but they are getting an early start at celebrating their centennial anniversary by releasing some of the most beloved films in their history. These DVD releases are collector’s items, and a must have for any serious film buff. This is a gentle tale of an eccentric socialite and her unique view of the world. This is a definitive role in a long line of fantastic movies for actress Audrey Hepburn and seen by most as one of the best performances that George Peppard has ever achieved. The film took home a pair of Academy Award wins for Best Song, ‘Moon River’ and Best Score, by Henry Mancini. During this time many artists covered the tuning song, but there is something magical about the way Hepburn performed it. A film like this is truly something special. With this new release, it is about time for us older folk to revisit it a perhaps introduce it to the younger set. This is pure entertainment the likes of which has not been around for quite a long time. Some may refer to this as a ‘chick flick’ or a date movie, but it is funny, charming and will appeal to both gender although it does appear that the ladies have a special place in their hearts for this ultimate romantic comedy.
The film was based on the novel of the same name by one of the greatest American authors ever, Truman Capote. Remaining truly to the literary work than most give him credit for was the author of the screenplay, George Axelrod. At the time he handed in this script Axelrod was already much in demand for his ability to pen romantic comedies with the perfect touch of drama. His resume is full of hits that encompass the likes of ‘Will Success Spoil Rock Hunter,’ ‘The Seven Year Itch’ and ‘Bus Stop.’ The latter two were some of the best work by screen legend Marilyn Monroe. Axelrod went beyond the usual pandering to the audience that has become par for the course with too many romantic comedies now. His scripts were intelligent with a cohesive plot and engaging story. He was a perfect choice to translate the urbane and dry wit of Capote to the screen. Of course, this was over forty-five years ago, and some plot lines in the novel such as experimenting with bisexuality had to be removed to make the story acceptable to the studio and the audiences of that day. The character of Holly Golightly, especially as portrayed by Ms. Hepburn is one of the most delightful ever to be seen on film. She elevates being offbeat to the level of an art form. Of all the characters Hepburn played in her long and illustrious career this was her best known; the role she was born to play.
There was a time when the name Blake Edwards was synonymous with the romantic comedy and sex farce. Of course, back in the sixties most sex farces only teased the audience never going anywhere near what can be shown on broadcast television on today. Edwards was the master of teasing the audience with situations that implied much more than was explicitly shown. He would continue his string of successes with the wildly comic ‘Pink Panther’ series and the movie that invented the beautiful woman in a bathing suit running on the beach in slow motion; ‘10’. Of all his hit films this one is frequently pointed to as the apex of his career. While most of this film remains as timely as ever after so many decades, there are a few aspects that do date it. One is the ethnic portrayal of Holly’s neighbor, Mr. Yunioshi as played by Mickey Rooney. He is a cartoon-like a racial stereotype of a Japanese man complete with huge false teeth and thick glasses. Now, this would be so politically incorrect that it would never be attempted in a mainstream romantic comedy.
Holly Golightly is a free-spirited young woman who a socialite is technically although there is some question as to how she manages to support herself. She dates a variety of men and earns one hundred dollars a week visiting the incarcerated mob boss, Sally Tomato (Alan Reed) and chatting with him for an hour. Little does Holly realize that she is being used to send messages back and forth for the mob. On her way home from a date, Holly stops for one of her favorite activities; having a role and coffee while admiring the jewelry display at Tiffany’s. There is a new tenant in the brownstone where Holly lives; Paul Varjak (George Peppard). He gets to cash the old fashion way. He is what we used to call a gigolo or kept a man. Holly is not the type to judge and while trying to get away from yet another drunken date goes to visit Paul and witnesses his lover, Mrs. Failenson (Patricia Neal), better known as 2-E is seen by Holly leaving Paul’s apartment after giving him cash. Truman Capote was well known for his being the life of the New York party scene, and this is translated here with scenes of sophisticated parties with rich and famous people in attendance. At one such event thrown by Holly Paul meets a rich Brazilian man, José da Silva Pereira (José Luis de Villalonga). Holly also meets the fat but rich Rusty Trawler (Stanley Adams). The story takes a dramatic turn when Holly’s ex-husband Doc (Buddy Ebsen) show up intent on taking her back. She was married when only 14 and doesn’t love Doc. Fortunately, Holly did have the good sense to have the union annulled. Out of a feeling of responsibility, Holly plans to marry Rusty, but that plan is foiled when he marries someone else.
Like all the movies released in the Paramount Centennial series, this one has exceptional video and audio. The film has not looked or sounded this good since it was first released. It also has a second disc full of great extras. On the main disc, there is a commentary track by producer Richard Shepard. This is the way a romantic comedy should be made to go old school and get it.
Posted 12/27/08 Posted 07/22/2018