I don’t think there’s a character in film whose last name I could possibly take less seriously than Holly Golightly. That being said, she is easily one of the most engaging characters I’ve seen in film. She might be gratingly annoying to deal with in-person, as George Peppard’s Paul Varjak could attest to you, but she is very always interesting, and there is never a dull moment to be had with her. It is Audrey Hepburn’s playing of this timeless role that makes Breakfast at Tiffany’s a must see, and I mean that quite literally; looked at from a distance, this is a rather typical Hollywood tough romance story, and offers little else. Really, if Hepburn hadn’t done this film, I don’t think this would even be worth remembering.
Holly Golightly is a New York socialite who basically lives from man to man, living the high life without ever settling down or, in her words, letting someone “put her in a cage”. This changes when Peppard’s writer Varjak moves in one floor up, and the two quickly form a friendship that, this being Hollywood, blossoms into something more. That something more now, however, has to contend with Holly’s flighty and free-willed personality, and her refusal to commit to anybody but the richest man she can find. Oh, and there’s a cat. I like cats. This one was actually pretty well done; it had the veneer of a professional production, rather than just a standard one, in what must have been a mirror of the eponymous jewelry store. There were a few standout scenes as well; Hepburn sitting on the fire escape serenading ‘Moon River’ to herself (and unwittingly Paul) being just one. The scene where Paul and Holly browse Tiffany’s jewelry store and attempt to convince one of the shopkeepers to sell them something for ten dollars is one of the most delightfully awkward scenes I’ve seen in classical cinema, and indeed films like Bridesmaids could do well to watch that scene to see how to get awkwardness right without being unbearable. One of the down points about the film, unfortunately, is Mickey Rooney’s characterization (or rather, caricaturization) of the stereotypically Asian Mr. Yunioshi, complete with a fake mouthpiece and absolutely wretched accent. Anyone who squirms in their seat at the mere mention of blackface would do wise to avoid this film for Rooney’s character alone.
As I said in the opener, if not for Hepburn’s magnetic presence and star-studded turn in the role that would be largely the most influential of her career, there’s really no other reason to see this one, which is why I gave it the rating I did. Without Hepburn, it probably would’ve gotten an even lower one, despite the fact that it is a well done picture all around; it just doesn’t do anything to put it above and beyond others of its like, again, except for Hepburn. If you don’t want to see this, I probably won’t begrudge you; the list has a few other Hepburn pictures that I’m sure I could sell you on a lot better than this one, but if you’re a fan of the actress, this might be worth checking out.
Arbitrary Rating: 7/10