June 14, 2010

About Breakfast at Tiffany's

If' you're regular readers of this blog you know that I really love the book Breakfast at Tiffany's by Truman Capote.  I also happen to love the movie, though they are truly entirely different pieces of art.  Where the film shows a charming, glamorous, and, romantic heroine, the book shows a fierce, lost, fallen woman both beautiful and pitiful. 

This disparity between the book and the film has always fascinated.  (And by always, I mean, since I read the book in college.)  And part of this question is explored in a new monograph of the film, by Sam Wasson, Fifth Avenue, 5 A.M.  Sunday's review in the New York Times has me intrigued:
His book winds up as well-tailored as the kind of little black dress that “Breakfast at Tiffany’s” made famous. And, yes, there’s lots to say here about that dress’s widespread influence. Audiences used to brightly costumed homebodies and Doris Day-type career girls were in for a big, chic, liberating surprise when Holly and her elegant simplicity came along.
Since she looked so smashing, why was Paramount issuing statements like this: “The star is Audrey Hepburn, not Tawdry Hepburn”? Because the studio was petrified, and its confused, hamstrung public statements reflected that alarm. “Let’s face it, now: what is a kook?” one such document inquired. A kook was a headache, especially when embodied by a girlish star who was understood to be demure no matter how much her movie character’s behavior indicated otherwise.
I'm not sure how fascinating a monograph about a film will be, but I am interested.  The film cleans up the book, but in doing so it drastically changes it.  Was it worth it?  Why did they make the decisions they did, and, if the book was so controversial, why did they make the movie in the first place.  The review also has an excerpt from the book, which will be my commute reading this evening...then I guess I'll know if I want to keep reading.

P.S. Do any of my male readers actually like this film?  I'm really curious.


  1. I only kind of saw it. Correspondingly, I kind of liked it.

  2. Anonymous10:38 PM

    my understanding is that they originally had marilyn monroe lined up to play holly. when, for some reason which i fail to recall, that fell through, they cleaned up the role to make it "suitable" for audrey hepburn . . . or, at least, audrey hepburn's type-cast. i've never read the book; very negligent of me and perhaps i can fix that sooner rather than later.