MOVIE REVIEW | Breakfast at Tiffany’s (1961)

In a nutshell, Bored & Dangerous says: “It didn’t live up to expectations, it blew them out of the water.”

Breakfast 1
“You mustn’t give your heart to a wild thing. The more you do, the stronger they get, until they’re strong enough to run into the woods or fly into a tree. And then to a higher tree and then to the sky.”

Some movies have images or lines of dialogue so iconic, those specific moments are more famous today than he movies they’re from.  While these could be signs of the movies themselves maybe lacking overall substance and relying on these small shining moments, there are some where these famous snippets are just the beginning.  Casablanca might end with an oft parodied line about the beginning of a beautiful friendship, but if that’s all you knew before watching, you’d be treated to 100 minutes of near perfection before you got there.  The image of Audrey Hepburn as Holly Golightly in her black dress and tiara is one of Hollywood’s most famous.  It’s also only one small part of a movie with even more style than that photo would suggest, and substance to match in Breakfast at Tiffany’s.

After a night on the town, Holly Golightly (Hepburn) returns home to her New York apartment.  Avoiding last night’s date who’s been waiting outside ever since she ditched him the night before, she has to wake her angry Japanese neighbour (Mickey Rooney as Mr Yunioshi) to let her in after losing her keys for what is obviously not the first time.  Recovering by sleeping the day away, she’s woken in the afternoon by new neighbour, Paul Varjak (George Peppard) who has his own key issues.

Later, Holly spies Paul through his window, asleep after servicing his benefactor (Patricia Neal), who leaves money on his nightstand.  It turns out that Holly has a similar profession, entertaining men for money.  The two have an instant chemistry that only grows the more they get to know each other.  While Paul is a hopeless romantic who is ready to take a chance on love, Holly does her best to remain detached, waiting to snag a more cashed up husband.  And it turns out, this is a game she has played before.olly has ot

I saw Breakfast at Tiffany’s for the first time when I was in my early 20s.  And it was one of those rare occasions when I immediately got it.  I knew why the movie was iconic, I knew why Audrey Hepburn was a legend, I knew why the images had endured for half a century.  It didn’t live up to expectations, it blew them out of the water.

Apparently watered down from the book it’s based on by Truman Capote, it has the odd treacly moment, some border on fairy tale romance, and it’s impossible to watch this movie with modern eyes and not cringe at the offensive yellow face performance of Rooney, but Hepburn is so amazing that she makes up for all of that, and then some.
Breakfast 2
Holly Golightly is a gold digger at best, a whore at worst.  Which would be a little taboo now, was progressive and transgressive with Pretty Woman in 1991, and must have been scandalous in 1961.  But Hepburn sells her sadness and immense insecurities so convincingly, even her biggest mistakes just make you feel for her more and hope she gets her shit together, finding a way to let Paul in.   In some ways, Breakfast at Tiffany’s is all about Audrey Hepburn and her performance, but she is so amazing, it actually becomes about Holly Golightly and the world she inhabits.

Breakfast at Tiffany’s
Directed By – Blake Edwards
Written By – George Axelrod

Other Opinions Are Available.  What did these people have to say about Breakfast at Tiffany’s?
The Hollywood Reporter

4 thoughts on “MOVIE REVIEW | Breakfast at Tiffany’s (1961)

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