Breakfast at Tiffany's (1961)
And I said what about Breakfast at Tiffany's?
You could always tell what kind of a person a man thinks you are by the earrings he gives you. I must say, the mind reels - Holly Golightly
For me one of the biggest mysteries of movies is why "Breakfast at Tiffany's" is held in such high esteem as a great romantic comedy. Don't get me wrong because it is both charming and entertaining, but with a story which for the most is obvious and dialogue which is solid but lacks sparkle it is for me a very good but not great movie. What I am sure is the reason for its popularity is that between it's fairytale like story, Audrey Hepburn delivering a delightful character and the reoccurring sound track of "Moon River" it waltz's you off into a world more appealing than this one.
Struggling writer and kept man Paul Varjak (George Peppard - How the West Was Won) moves into a New York apartment block and immediately becomes intrigued by his quirky neighbour Holly Golightly (Audrey Hepburn - Funny Face). Holly's often frenetic lifestyle fascinates Paul; in public she is the life and soul of the party who is determined to bag herself a rich handsome man, yet in private she is much more vulnerable. As their friendship grows it's obvious that their feelings run deeper but will anything ever come of it as whilst handsome, Paul is far from rich.
It has to be said that the storyline to "Breakfast at Tiffany's" is pretty obvious, from the minute Paul knocks on the door of Holly's room you know where things are destined to end and you can bet your bottom dollar that it won't be plain sailing. But what makes it work is that it takes us through the various stages quite brilliantly building upon their friendship as they start to have feelings for each other before love is declared. The way Paul comes to Holly's rescue on more than one occasion whilst Holly finds something close to normality when with Paul makes it charming. And even though the whole set up pushes the boundaries of reality as Holly leads what can only be described as a crazy life it gives it an almost breath of honesty to it all.
Talking of crazy "Breakfast at Tiffany's" most definitely has a subtle streak of comedy running through it. From Holly's almost naive, accident prone ways through to the way Paul makes his way through a crowded room with a cold glass there are plenty of scenes of gentle humour. And strangely whilst these scenes such as the setting a ladies hat on fire is obviously manufactured it doesn't feel thrown in purely to get laughs, it helps build on the storyline or characters.
Now of course there is one aspect to the comedy in "Breakfast at Tiffany's" which in more recent years has caused debate, that of Mickey Rooney, a white actor, playing an Asian character, Mr. Yunioshi and doing so in a seriously over the top manner. Whilst yes in this day and age it is both inappropriate and offensive it has to be remembered that "Breakfast at Tiffany's" is a product of the past when such things weren't wrong and making a big hoo-hah over it now seems daft and frankly pointless, put it simply you can't alter history.
One of the unusual things about "Breakfast at Tiffany's" is that whilst not thrown in your face the characters of Holly and Paul are shall we say a little on the seedy side. Take Holly who as she puts it gets paid by men to go to the powder room is simply a call girl who also happens to be a go between for a banged up criminal and his lawyer. Now that's not exactly normal, although it is a toned down version of the original character which Truman Capote described in his Novella of which this is an adaptation of. And Holly is not alone as Paul is to be frank a gigolo, a man who is paid and looked after by a rich woman. Again not normal, yet this almost unsavoury set up never really comes to your attention as this fairytale story and charming relationship diverts it.
Now whilst "Breakfast at Tiffany's" is really a fairytale romance the one thing which really grates on me is the completely over the top and quite frankly cheesy ending. Part of the movies charm is that whilst a fairytale there is some sort of honesty to it all, a believability about this friendship/ romance between Holly and Paul yet that goes completely walk abouts in an ending which is just to over the top in finding the perfect closure to everything. In fact "Breakfast at Tiffany's" would for me be better if it was more ambiguous leaving things floating rather than achieving cheesy closure.
Of course there is one very simple reason why so many people love "Breakfast at Tiffany's" and that is Audrey Hepburn as Holly Golightly, a character which so many women have tried to imitate whilst many men wish they could find. Strangely though the character itself is not that amazing a small town girl having reinvented herself and created this phoney reality to live in where her focus is on marrying a rich man. But whilst the actual character seems a little weak Audrey Hepburn makes her interesting, quirky and amusing with what appears to be a flagrant ignorance about life. And of course Hepburn is undeniably devastatingly beautiful and a flash of that smile or one of her long meaningful looks could make the hardest of hearts melt.
Alongside the delightful Audrey Hepburn is George Peppard who let's be honest will for most be for ever Hannibal in "The A-Team". It's a solid performance from Peppard as Paul where he doesn't have to do much other than play second fiddle to Hepburn but he is likable, good looking and gains your sympathy as it's obvious that as Paul he feels something for Holly long before it every really gets mentioned.
Plus there is of course Mickey Rooney in that now infamous character of Mr. Yunioshi. Whether you deem it completely wrong both in a political sense or in the sense of having such an over the top character in the movie the one thing you have to say is Mickey Rooney does it well creating this over the top stereotype and generating laughs with some simple slapstick such as banging his head. It's a shame that his performance is usually forgotten as even if you dislike the character Rooney generates the laughs.
What this all boils down to is that "Breakfast at Tiffany's" is a good movie and unlike many romantic comedies has stood the test of time. But whilst this fairytale storyline charms you and Audrey Hepburn is a delight as Holly Golightly it is all surprisingly obvious.
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