“Breakfast at Tiffany’s” (1961)

Last New Year’s Eve we watched Roman Holiday, this one we watched Breakfast at Tiffany’s, from our Audrey Hepburn box set. It’s a fractured love story between Hepburn and George Peppard, two young dreamers who take money from older people in exchange for sex. Hepburn is charming and loopy. Her fashions in this film, by Edith Head and Hubert de Givenchy, established her to this day as an icon. Peppard is handsome and stern as the struggling writer, by turns her complement and her reflection.

There’s a lot to enjoy and appreciate about the film, but I have trouble with it, too. Mickey Rooney’s Mr. Yunioshi is beyond painful to behold and had to have been in poor taste, even then. Hepburn’s rendition of “Moon River” is too saccharine for my tastes, as is the subplot with the cat, and the ending. Most troubling to me, though, are Peppard’s claims that he loves her and she belongs to him.

Paul Varjak: I love you.
Holly Golightly: So what.
Paul Varjak: So what? So plenty! I love you, you belong to me!
Holly Golightly: [tearfully] No. People don’t belong to people.
Paul Varjak: Of course they do!
Holly Golightly: I’ll never let ANYBODY put me in a cage.
Paul Varjak: I don’t want to put you in a cage, I want to love you!

This, more than anything, prevents me from perceiving the movie as romantic; to me it’s an odd little film. I wonder if my impression comes closer to the spirit of Truman Capote’s story than to the polished package of its Hollywood marketing.

Finally, the copyeditor in me must point out that it’s Tiffany, not Tiffany’s. I’m surprised that they didn’t insist on the correction.

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