Sunday, January 26, 2014

Family Movie Night: Breakfast at Tiffany's

Title: Breakfast at Tiffany's
Director: Blake Edwards
Original Release: 1961
Choice: Mine
My Overall Rating: 4 stars out of 5
via Wikipedia
Breakfast at Tiffany's was almost certainly Audrey Hepburn's most famous movie.  Her image on the poster in the slinky black dress with the 20-inch long cigarette holder is one of the greatest icons in all of film.  Yet she considered Holly Golightly to be one of her most challenging roles.  A natural introvert, the larger than life Holly took Hepburn far beyond her own comfort zone.



Based on Truman Capote's novella of the same name, Breakfast at Tiffany's is hilarious and heartbreaking all at the same time.  Holly is a society girl in New York, living off of the generosity of her dates - not quite a prostitute and not quite a kept woman either as she never seems to sleep with any of them.  Paul (George Peppard), most definitely a kept man himself, moves in upstairs. The two become friends and gradually fall in love. 

My favorite scene is the only one that actually takes place inside the jewelry store Tiffany's.  Out on a day of adventure, Holly and Paul are in search of a $10 gift.  The exchange with the store clerk, played by John McGiver in a brilliant dead-pan, is hysterically funny.


The story and characters are tied together wonderfully in the movie's musical theme, the song "Moon River" by Henry Mancini and Johnny Mercer.  I'm a sucker for Huck Finn references and the song is dripping with them.  Are Holly and Paul equal to Huck and Jim on the raft?  Well, no.  But the lonely romance of life's journey is certainly a shared theme for the two stories.

Multi-generational considerations:
  • Mickey Rooney's portrayal of cranky neighbor I.Y. Yunioshi is obnoxious, offensive, ridiculous, inappropriate, insensitive and just about any other negative adjective you could heap on to the pile.  There's just no getting around it.  It was wrong in 1961 and it's wrong now.  We stopped the movie to talk about offensive stereotypes when he first came on screen.
  • We also warned Our Girl ahead of time that Holly is not always very nice to her cat.

32 comments:

  1. I watched this movie and read the novel a LONG time ago, but reading your review makes me want to watch it again! I especially remember the last sequence, the taxi cab fight and later, Holly trying to find Cat. I love it.

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    1. The movie can be hard to watch at times. They're not exactly happy people. But there is a sweetness that ultimately wins the day.

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  2. I still have not seen this one. It's been on my list for years, and I have just never made time for it.

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    1. I think of Breakfast at Tiffany's as a unique movie but I suppose quite a lot of characters - in both film and literature - have been inspired by Holly Golightly.

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  3. New York City is definitely a character in this film which I saw again last month. My favorite character remains "Cat." The novella which this is based is much darker.

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    1. Setting as character - not easy to do and I agree with you that this film succeeds. I've never read the book. My wife has, of course, and would likely agree with your assessment.

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  4. I've never actually sat down and watched this film properly although a few times it has popped up on the telly when I have just been leaving it on for a bit of background noise. It actually did that a few weeks ago and I kept finding myself looking up and watching bits of it, here and there. It's one I may have to go and watch in full at some point. I'm also intrigued by the book. Something to think about next time my to read list is getting low. :) thanks for sharing.

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    1. I hope you'll share your thoughts if you read or watch it. Thanks, joss!

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  5. I wondered what you'd write about Rooney's role the minute I saw your post on the dashboard.

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    1. It's so unnecessary, too. There's nothing wrong with a cranky Japanese neighbor in and of itself. But for crying out loud, give it to an Asian actor and let him play it straight. George Takei could have done the part. Or why not bring in a heavyweight like Toshiro Mifune? That would have been awesome!

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  6. Rooney's role has kind of overtaken the rest of the film's better qualities. hard not to get to that point and not be taken out of the film completely.

    mood
    Moody Writing

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  7. Not nice to her cat??? Perhaps that's why I've never seen it...

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    1. Yeah. Holly's not exactly a nice person. One can forgive her a little in that she's clearly nuts but even so, taking it out on the cat isn't cool.

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  8. This movie is a classic, but now I can't get that song out of my head. "That's one thing we got..."

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    1. I thought of including that clip, too. Decided against.

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  9. Great movie! I concur that Mickey Rooney's stereotype role is offensive. It is the same as the Black Face of older movies.

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    1. Exactly. That's the equivalent we made for our daughter, too.

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    2. Raising kids to be color blind, and respect different cultures is not as hard as it once was. I live in a cul-de-sac with several mixed Families. Japanese, Filipino, Hispanic and Anglo kids all playing and having fun. My daughter loves to play at one girls house because her toys are cool. When I asked why they were cool she told me because they spoke Japanese. Being the Geek that I am I introduced my daughter to My Neighbor Totoro. At Christmas she received from Santa a stuffed Totoro.

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    3. I hope you're right about it getting easier. We're certainly trying at our house!

      We love Totoro. I named my car Totoro.

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    4. Let's hope Honda's working on that one.

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  10. Again another movie that I have never seen in one sitting. Just bits and pieces.
    Her trying to find Cat is rather upsetting the first time I saw it.

    cheers, parsnip

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    1. Yes, I'm always relieved when she finds Cat - even though I know she will.

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  11. Nice review. I actually want to see this film. I recently read the book and the movie looked great.

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    1. I hope you'll share your thoughts once you do.

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  12. I love this movie. I saw it when I was young, and then when I got older I saw it again and understood the things I didn't understand when I was young. :)

    Moon River is one of my favorite songs to play on the piano, so simple but so beautiful.

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    1. Good songs are often, at their heart, very simple. There are few simpler tunes in the world than "Ode to Joy," for instance.

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  13. I love this movie! I think the party scene in her apartment is really funny (with Mag Wildwood of Wildwood Arkansas.) Tears always come to my eyes during the last scene, the frantic hunt for Cat, the sadness of Holly.
    I introduced it to My Girl a few years ago and have seen her pop it in a few times since. What was Your Girl's overall impression?

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    1. I think she liked it - at least, she said she did. I like the movie more now than I did when I was younger. It improves with age and life experience. I think it's sweet Your Girl does.

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  14. I was worried when watching the movie that they wouldn't find the cat. ha. I am a crazy cat lady after all.

    anyway, have you read the book? it's pretty different in a way but still as delightful as the movie :) I only recently-ish saw the movie AND read the book, so I'm by no means an expert.

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    1. Every time I've watched, I've worried she won't find the cat this time - completely irrational but there you have it.

      I haven't read it but my wife has and she filled me in on some of the differences.

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