Breakfast at Tiffany’s (1961)    1 Stars

“Audrey Hepburn as Holly Golightly. . .the most hilarious heroine who ever rumpled the pages of a best-seller. . .is serving wild oats and wonderful fun”

Breakfast at Tiffany's (1961)
Breakfast at Tiffany’s (1961)

Director: Blake Edwards

Cast: Audrey Hepburn, George Peppard, Patricia Neal

Synopsis: A young New York socialite becomes interested in a young writer who has moved into her apartment building.

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Breakfast at Tiffany’s is a movie that doesn’t really deserve of its status as a classic. It’s well put-together, with an attractive cast and a memorable theme tune in Moon River, but otherwise it’s a rather ordinary affair. In fact, it’s quite possible that Breakfast at Tiffany’s has only acquired its classic status thanks to the iconic image of Audrey Hepburn (Roman Holiday, Sabrina) wearing a slinky black evening gown and elbow-length gloves while wielding a ridiculously long cigarette-holder. There’s no denying she’s the best thing about the movie. There’s equally no denying that Mickey Rooney (Riffraff, Summer Holiday) as the perpetually enraged Mr. Yunioshi is the worst thing about it. It’s as if he’s wandered in from a WWII anti-Japanese propaganda cartoon.

It’s plain that Hepburn’s Holly Golightly and George Peppard’s struggling writer Paul Varjak are kindred spirits meant for one another from the off. Even if they weren’t both healthy specimens in the prime of their life, the fact that each relies on the financial generosity of those they don’t love makes it obvious. Varjak services a sophisticated older woman (Patricia Neal – Raton Pass) and she discreetly leaves a pile of folding on a table in his apartment while he sleeps; Holly receives $50 “powder room money” from her numerous gentlemen companions. Yes, they’re both whores of a kind, although 1961 Hollywood was far too discreet to say as much.

Hepburn keeps Golightly likeable, even though she isn’t really a likeable person. Neither is Varjak, come to that. In fact, probably the only likeable character in Breakfast at Tiffany’s is poor Cat, Holly’s nameless pet, who gets a rough deal throughout. Golightly is too self-absorbed, too materialistic, and most other actresses would have struggled to make the part work. But Hepburn had that irresistible combination of beauty and vulnerability which makes you suspect you would find yourself forgiving her for almost anything if you were lucky enough to know her. But while those ephemeral looks might be ageless, much of Breakfast at Tiffany’s looks dated today, particularly a party scene in Golightly’s flat in which all the men wear suits and everyone tries to look as if they’re having a wild time without moving from their designated position on the set.

(Reviewed 17th November 2014)

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