Breakfast at Tiffany's (film)

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Breakfast at Tiffany's

Theatrical release poster by Robert McGinnis
Directed byBlake Edwards
Produced byMartin Jurow
Richard Shepherd
Screenplay byGeorge Axelrod
Based onBreakfast at Tiffany's by
Truman Capote
StarringAudrey Hepburn
George Peppard
Patricia Neal
Buddy Ebsen
Music byHenry Mancini
CinematographyFranz F. Planer
Philip H. Lathrop (Uncredited)
Editing byHoward Smith
StudioJurow-Shepherd
Distributed byParamount Pictures
Release date(s)
  • October 5, 1961 (1961-10-05)
Running time115 minutes
CountryUnited States
LanguageEnglish
Portuguese
Budget$2.5 million
Box office$14,000,000
 
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Breakfast at Tiffany's

Theatrical release poster by Robert McGinnis
Directed byBlake Edwards
Produced byMartin Jurow
Richard Shepherd
Screenplay byGeorge Axelrod
Based onBreakfast at Tiffany's by
Truman Capote
StarringAudrey Hepburn
George Peppard
Patricia Neal
Buddy Ebsen
Music byHenry Mancini
CinematographyFranz F. Planer
Philip H. Lathrop (Uncredited)
Editing byHoward Smith
StudioJurow-Shepherd
Distributed byParamount Pictures
Release date(s)
  • October 5, 1961 (1961-10-05)
Running time115 minutes
CountryUnited States
LanguageEnglish
Portuguese
Budget$2.5 million
Box office$14,000,000

Breakfast at Tiffany's is a 1961 romantic comedy 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 café society girl is generally considered to be the actress' 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.[1] Hepburn's performance of "Moon River" helped composer Henry Mancini and lyricist Johnny Mercer win an Oscar for Best Song.

Contents

Plot

In the early morning, a yellow taxi pulls up at Tiffany & Co. on Fifth Avenue in New York City and Holly Golightly (Audrey Hepburn) emerges. She eats a pastry and drinks coffee while standing outside the shop window, then strolls home. At her apartment building, she fends off her date from the disastrous night before, who has been waiting in his car all night. The next morning, she is awakened by new tenant Paul Varjak (George Peppard) ringing the doorbell. The pair chat as she dresses to leave for her weekly visit to Sally Tomato (Alan Reed), a mobster incarcerated at Sing Sing prison. She is paid to pass on coded messages for his drug ring but plays dumb regarding her visits.

Audrey Hepburn as Holly Golightly.

As she is leaving for Sing Sing, Holly is introduced to Paul's "decorator", wealthy older woman Emily Eustace Failenson (Patricia Neal), who Paul nicknames "2E". That night, Holly goes out onto the building's fire escape to elude an overly eager date. She peeks into Paul's apartment and sees 2E leaving money and kissing Paul goodbye. After 2E leaves, Holly enters Paul's apartment and learns that he is a writer who has not had anything published in five years since writing a book of vignettes titled Nine Lives. Holly, in turn, explains that she is trying to save money in order to support her brother, Fred, when he gets out of the Army. The pair fall asleep, but are awoken when Holly has a nightmare about Fred and leaves the apartment. She later buys Paul a new typewriter ribbon to apologize and invites him to a party at her apartment. At the party, Paul meets her Hollywood agent, O.J. Berman (Martin Balsam), who describes Holly's transformation from country girl into Manhattan socialite. He is also introduced to José da Silva Pereira (José Luis de Vilallonga), a rich Brazilian, and Rusty Trawler (Stanley Adams), a rich American.

In the days that follow, Paul and Holly become closer. One day, 2E enters Paul's apartment, worried that she is being followed. Paul tells her that he will investigate and eventually confronts the man, who introduces himself as "Doc" Golightly (Buddy Ebsen), Holly's husband. Doc explains that Holly's real name is Lula Mae Barnes, whom he married when she was 14, and that he would like to take her back to Texas. After Paul reunites Holly and Doc, she tells Paul the marriage was annulled and asks him to accompany her and Doc to the bus station. There, she tells Doc she is not returning. He tells her that if she does not return, he will not support Fred on his imminent return from the Army. She still refuses, and tells him she plans for Fred to live with her in New York. Doc leaves brokenhearted.

After drinking at a club, Paul and Holly return to her apartment, where she drunkenly tells him that she plans to marry Rusty Trawler for his money. A few days later, Paul learns that one of his short stories has been accepted for publication. On the way to tell Holly, he sees the newspaper at her door, its headline stating that Trawler has married someone else. Holly and Paul agree to spend the day together, taking turns doing things that each has never done before. At Tiffany's, Paul has the ring from Doc Golightly's box of Cracker Jack engraved as a present for Holly. After spending the night together, he awakens to find that she has returned to her apartment. Soon afterwards, Paul ends his relationship with 2E.

Holly schemes to marry José for his money, which angers Paul who has firmly decided on his love for her. After Holly and José return to her apartment to find a telegram notifying her of Fred's death, she trashes her apartment in grief, her behavior disturbing José. Months later, Paul has moved out of the building. He is invited to dinner by Holly, who is leaving the next morning for Brazil. However, they are soon arrested by police in connection with Sally's drug ring and taken to the 19th precinct. Yunioshi insinuated that they are smoking narcotics when they were arrested. Holly spends the night in jail.

The next morning, Holly is released on bail with help from O.J. and finds Paul waiting in a taxi for her outside. He has her cat and a letter from José explaining he must end their relationship due to her arrest. Holly insists she will go to Brazil anyway and releases the cat from the taxi into the rain. Paul confronts Holly about her behavior and leaves the cab, tossing the ring he had engraved for her into her lap and telling her to examine her life. She quickly runs after him and together they find the cat, look into each other's eyes and embrace.

Cast

Production

Development

The Oscar-nominated screenplay was written by George Axelrod, loosely based on the novella by Truman Capote. Changes were made to fit the medium of cinema and to correspond to the filmmakers' vision.

Pre-production

Capote, who sold the film rights of his novella to Paramount Studios, wanted Marilyn Monroe to play Holly Golightly, whom he had described perfectly in the book. 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 Lee Strasberg advised Monroe that playing a prostitute would be bad for her image, she turned it down and performed in The Misfits instead. When Hepburn was cast instead of Monroe, Capote remarked: "Paramount double-crossed me in every way and cast Audrey".[2]

Originally producers Martin Jurow and Richard Shepherd had picked John Frankenheimer as the director,[citation needed] but Hepburn said: "I've never heard of him" and he was replaced on her request.

Principal photography

Most of the exteriors were filmed in New York City, 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.[citation needed]

It was rumored[citation needed] 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.[citation needed]

In an interview given for the 45th anniversary DVD, Edwards 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.

Music

It took me a long time to figure out what Holly Golightly was all about. One night after midnight I was still trying. I don't drink much, but I was sipping. And it came to me. I wrote ["Moon River"] in half an hour.

—Henry Mancini[3]

Hepburn introduced the film's signature song, "Moon River" by Henry Mancini and Johnny Mercer. The song was tailored to Hepburn's limited vocal range, based on songs she had performed in 1957's Funny Face.[4] On the Anniversary Edition DVD of Breakfast at Tiffany's co-producer Richard Shepherd says in his audio commentary that after a preview in San Francisco, Martin Rankin, Paramount's head of production, wanted "Moon River" replaced with music by somebody like Gordon Jenkins (whose album Manhattan Tower had been out fairly recently): "Marty [Jurow, co-producer] and I both said 'over our dead bodies.'"[5] According to Mancini and Edwards, a studio executive hated the song and demanded it be cut from the film; Hepburn, who was present, responded to the suggestion by standing up and saying, "Over my dead body!"[6]

According to Time magazine, Mancini "sets off his melodies with a walking bass, extends them with choral and string variations, varies them with the brisk sounds of combo jazz. "Moon River" is sobbed by a plaintive harmonica, repeated by strings, hummed and then sung by the chorus, finally resolved with the harmonica again."[3]

Reception

Time magazine noted "for the first half hour or so, Hollywood's Holly (Audrey Hepburn) is not much different from Capote's. She has kicked the weed and lost the illegitimate child she was having, but she is still jolly Holly, the child bride from Tulip, Texas, who at 15 runs away to Hollywood to find some of the finer things of life—like shoes." It pointed out that "after that out-of-Capote beginning, Director Blake Edwards (High Time) goes on to an out-of-character end."[7] Almost a half century later, Time commented on the pivotal impact of Hepburn's portrayal of Golightly:[8]

Breakfast at Tiffany's set Hepburn on her 60s Hollywood course. Holly Golightly, small-town Southern girl turned Manhattan trickster, was the naughty American cousin of Eliza Doolittle, Cockney flower girl turned My Fair Lady. Holly was also the prototype for the Hepburn women in Charade, Paris When It Sizzles, and How to Steal a Million: kooks in capers. And she prepared audiences for the ground-level anxieties that Hepburn characters endured in The Children's Hour, Two for the Road and Wait Until Dark.

The New York Times called the film a "completely unbelievable but wholly captivating flight into fancy composed of unequal dollops of comedy, romance, poignancy, funny colloquialisms and Manhattan's swankiest East Side areas captured in the loveliest of colors"; in reviewing the performances, the newspaper said Holly Golightly is "as implausible as ever. But in the person of Miss Hepburn, she is a genuinely charming, elfin waif who will be believed and adored when seen. George Peppard is casual and, for the most part, a subdued citizen who seems to like observing better than participating in the proceedings. Martin Balsam makes a properly brash, snappy Hollywood agent. Mickey Rooney's bucktoothed, myopic Japanese is broadly exotic. Patricia Neal is simply cool and brisk in her few appearances as Mr. Peppard's sponsor and Vilallonga, is properly suave and Continental as Miss Hepburn's Brazilian, while Buddy Ebsen has a brief poignant moment as Miss Hepburn's husband."[9]

Rotten Tomatoes currently holds an 88% 'Fresh' rating with the consensus: "It contains some ugly anachronisms, but Blake Edwards is at his funniest in this iconic classic, and Audrey Hepburn absolutely lights up the screen."[10]

Influence

Audrey Hepburn as Holly Golightly

Hepburn as Holly, carrying an oversized cigarette holder, is considered one of the most iconic images of 20th century American cinema.[11] Another iconic item throughout the movie is Holly's sunglasses. Often misidentified as Ray-Ban, they are Manhattan sunglasses manufactured by Oliver Goldsmith. In 2011 the model was re-released to mark the 50th anniversary of Breakfast at Tiffany's.[12] One of three dresses designed by Givenchy for Hepburn for possible use in the film sold at auction by Christie's[13] on December 5, 2006 for £467,200 (~US$947,000), about seven times the reserve price.[14] The little black Givenchy dress worn by Hepburn in the beginning of the film is cited as one of the most iconic items of clothing in the history of the twentieth century and perhaps the most famous little black dress of all time.[15][16][17][18]

The film rejuvenated the career of 1930s movie song-and-dance man and Disney Davy Crockett sidekick 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.[19]

Portrayal of Mr. Yunioshi

Since the late 1990s, the portrayal by Mickey Rooney of I.Y. Yunioshi has been subject to increasing protest by members of the Asian-American community and others. Rooney wore makeup and a prosthetic mouthpiece to change his features to a caricatured approximation of a Japanese person.

In his audio commentary for the DVD release, producer Richard Shepherd said that at the time of production as well as in retrospect, he wanted to recast the role "not because he [Rooney] didn't play the part well" but because Shepherd thought the part of Mr. Yunioshi should be performed by an actor of Japanese ethnicity; it was director Blake Edwards' decision to keep Rooney.[20] In a "making-of" for the 45th anniversary edition DVD release, Shepherd repeatedly apologizes, saying, "If we could just change Mickey Rooney, I'd be thrilled with the movie."[21] 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."[21] In a 2008 interview about the film, 87-year-old Rooney said he was heartbroken about the criticism: "Blake Edwards...wanted me to do it because he was a comedy director. They hired me to do this overboard, and we had fun doing it....Never in all the more than 40 years after we made it – not one complaint. Every place I've gone in the world people say, 'God, you were so funny.' Asians and Chinese come up to me and say, 'Mickey you were out of this world.'"[22] Rooney also said that if he'd known people would have been so offended, "I wouldn't have done it." [22]

Awards and honors

Academy Awards

Award[23]Person
Best Score of a Dramatic or Comedy PictureHenry Mancini
Best Original Song: "Moon River"Henry Mancini
Johnny Mercer
Nominated:
Best Actress in a Leading RoleAudrey Hepburn
Best Art DirectionHal Pereira
Roland Anderson
Sam Comer
Ray Moyer
Best Adapted ScreenplayGeorge Axelrod

Other awards

American Film Institute lists

Soundtrack

The soundtrack featured a score composed and conducted by Henry Mancini, with songs by Mancini and lyricist Johnny Mercer. Mancini and Mercer won the 1961 Oscar for Best Original Song for "Moon River". Mancini won for Best Original Score. There are also unreleased score pieces from Breakfast at Tiffany's in existence; "Carousel Cue" is from an unsurfaced scene, while "Outtake 1" is from a deleted scene in which Holly and Fred visit Tiffany's and is a variation of the main theme.

Home media

Breakfast at Tiffany's was one of the first Hepburn films to be released to the home video market in the early 1980s,[citation needed] 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:

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:

In 2011 a newly remastered HD version of the film was released on Blu-ray with many of the features from the aforementioned DVDs.

Stage adaptations

In 1966, David Merrick produced a Broadway 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 Muny in St. Louis.[30]

In May 2009, actress Anna Friel confirmed that she would star in a West End adaptation of the film. The show opened in September 2009 at the Haymarket Theatre.[31]

The name of the film was also used as the title for the 1996 hit record by Deep Blue Something, although the lyrics were in fact inspired by Roman Holiday.

See also

Further reading

"Fifth Avenue, 5 A.M." by Sam Wasson

References

  1. ^ Spoto, Donald (2006). Enchantment: The Life of Audrey Hepburn. New York: Harmony Books. p. 204. ISBN 0-307-23758-3. 
  2. ^ Barry Paris (1996). Audrey Hepburn. Berkley Books. 
  3. ^ a b "Movies: Never Too Much Music". Time. May 25, 1962. http://www.time.com/time/printout/0,8816,896253,00.html. Retrieved 2010-10-03. 
  4. ^ Spoto, Donald. Enchantment: The Life of Audrey Hepburn. New York: Harmony Books, 2006. Page 204 – 205. ISBN 0-307-23758-3
  5. ^ Shepherd, Richard. Breakfast at Tiffany's – Anniversary Edition/Centennial Edition audio commentary (DVD). Paramount. Event occurs at 25:20. 
  6. ^ Erwin, Ellen; Diamond, Jessica Z. (October 2006). The Audrey Hepburn Treasures. New York: Atria Books. p. 107. ISBN 978-0-7432-8986-3. 
  7. ^ "Cinema: Once Over Golightly". Time. October 20, 1961. http://www.time.com/time/printout/0,8816,872844,00.html. Retrieved 2010-10-03. 
  8. ^ Corliss, Richard (January 20, 2007). "Audrey Hepburn: Still the Fairest Lady". Time. http://www.time.com/time/printout/0,8816,1580936,00.html. Retrieved 2010-10-03. 
  9. ^ Weiler, A.H. (October 6, 1961). "The Screen: Breakfast at Tiffany's: Audrey Hepburn Stars in Music Hall Comedy". The New York Times. http://movies.nytimes.com/movie/review?res=9A05EED9173AE13ABC4E53DFB667838A679EDE. Retrieved 2010-10-03. 
  10. ^ Breakfast at Tiffany's at Rotten Tomatoes
  11. ^ Spoto, Donald. Enchantment: The Life of Audrey Hepburn. New York: Harmony Books, 2006. Page 203. ISBN 0-307-23758-3
  12. ^ http://www.eye-wear-glasses.com/2011/07/re-released-manhattan-sunglasses-mark.html
  13. ^ Audrey Hepburn Breakfast At Tiffany's, 1961
  14. ^ "Auction frenzy over Hepburn dress". BBC NEWS. 2006-12-05. http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/entertainment/6209658.stm. 
  15. ^ "The Most Famous Dresses Ever". Glamour.com. April 2007. http://www.glamour.com/fashion/2007/04/famous-dresses#slide=3. Retrieved 16 May 2011. 
  16. ^ "Audrey Hepburn dress". Hello Magazine. 6 December 2006. http://www.hellomagazine.com/celebrities/2006/12/06/audrey-hepburn-dress/. 
  17. ^ "Audrey Hepburn's little black dress tops fashion list". The Independent. 17 May 2010. http://www.independent.co.uk/life-style/fashion/news/audrey-hepburns-little-black-dress-tops-fashion-list-1984507.html. Retrieved 16 May 2011. 
  18. ^ Steele, Valerie (9 November 2010). The Berg Companion to Fashion. Berg Publishers. p. 483. ISBN 978-1-84788-592-0. http://books.google.com/books?id=Hemsvn9ZbRkC&pg=PA483. Retrieved 16 May 2011. 
  19. ^ "Buddy Ebsen". Amazon.com. http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0001171/bio. 
  20. ^ Shepherd, Richard. Breakfast at Tiffany's – Anniversary Edition/Centennial Edition audio commentary (DVD). Paramount. Event occurs at 3:43. 
  21. ^ a b Breakfast at Tiffany's: The Making of a Classic
  22. ^ a b Magagnini, Stephen (September 28, 2008). "Mickey Rooney upset about claims his 'Tiffany's' role is racist". Sacramento Bee. Scripps Howard News Service. http://www.scrippsnews.com/node/35779. Retrieved 2010-10-03. 
  23. ^ "NY Times: Breakfast at Tiffany's". NY Times. http://movies.nytimes.com/movie/6998/Breakfast-At-Tiffany-s/awards. Retrieved 2008-12-24. 
  24. ^ "Empire: Features". Empireonline.com. http://www.empireonline.com/500/3.asp. Retrieved 2009-05-16. 
  25. ^ AFI's 100 Years...100 Movies Nominees
  26. ^ AFI's 100 Years...100 Laughs Nominees
  27. ^ AFI's 100 Years...100 Movie Quotes Nominees
  28. ^ AFI's 100 Years of Film Scores Nominees
  29. ^ AFI's 100 Years...100 Movies (10th Anniversary Edition) Ballot
  30. ^ "Show Archives". The Muny. http://www.muny.org/content/view/7/101/#B. Retrieved 2009-05-16. 
  31. ^ "Entertainment | West End Breakfast for Anna Friel". BBC News. 2009-05-15. http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/entertainment/8052020.stm. Retrieved 2009-05-16. 

External links