Breakfast at Tiffany’s (1961)

2011 #26
Blake Edwards | 110 mins | TV (HD) | PG

Breakfast at Tiffany'sBreakfast at Tiffany’s is a stonkingly famous film — it’s the one most of the famous images in the cult of Audrey Hepburn come from — this despite the fact that, as one IMDb review puts it, the plot makes it sound like “a gritty, vulgar film”.

It originates from a Truman Capote novel. That makes “gritty” and “vulgar” less startling adjectives. This was the early ’60s, though, so George Axelrod’s adaptation sanitises things for a mainstream US cinema audience. You can’t help but wonder if there’s a more faithful remake to be done, but how would that sit with those who idolise Hepburn’s take on Holly Golightly? Not well, I suspect. But faithfulness aside, in the hands of director Blake Edwards any grittiness disappears in a wave of pastel-coloured humour and frivolity.

And a happy ending. Not that the novel’s ending is unhappy per se, but this version is certainly more Hollywoodised. Some hate it, and I can see their point, but as the whole film has been appropriately smoothed in parts from the original, the modified finale doesn’t sit too badly. Casting Mickey Rooney as an OTT Japanese character really was a bad idea though. Another strike against the film could be that it originated the song Moon River, which I hate; Tiffany's kissbut it works here, especially when sung plainly by Hepburn.

Breakfast at Tiffany’s isn’t Capote’s novel, but it is fun, and it’s plain to see why men and women alike have fallen for Hepburn’s Golightly. A more sordid adaptation of the book might be interesting, but that doesn’t negate the unique qualities of the film.

5 out of 5

Breakfast at Tiffany’s is on Film4 tomorrow, Tuesday 28th October 2014, at 11am.

Audrey Hepburn, er, ‘Week’…

Audrey HepburnFollowing Valentine’s Day — yes, I’m talking about way back in February — Channel 4 attempted a week of Audrey Hepburn films. Except for some reason they didn’t schedule one for Monday. And then Friday’s, Breakfast at Tiffany’s, was replaced by delayed horse racing. And for my part, I forgot to record Thursday’s film, Funny Face.

So following Valentine’s Day, Channel 4 showed a pair of Audrey Hepburn films (that I saw). One of those I posted a while ago — it was Roman Holiday — but I’ve caught Funny Face since, and Breakfast at Tiffany’s on the racing-motivated repeat, so I’ve actually wound up with three Hepburn reviews to post. None are particularly long, so here they all are:

Then there’s Humphrey Bogart… At least his character is pretending to fall for [Hepburn] in order to get her away from his wastrel brother. But it actually feels very mean-spirited — Sabrina is likeable enough that we dislike his machinations. Which means that there’s no truly supportable lead character. Read more…


a surfeit of excellent humour, choreography, cinematography, light satire of both the fashion world and the intellectual world… Indeed, dishing out said satire in both directions means the film never comes across as either snobbish or anti-intellectual… it takes fair jibes at both equally. Read more…


this version is certainly more Hollywoodised. Some hate it, and I can see their point… but it is fun, and it’s plain to see why men and women alike have fallen for Hepburn’s Golightly. A more sordid adaptation of the book might be interesting, but that doesn’t negate the unique qualities of the film. Read more…


Pair this lot up with Roman Holiday and you can see plenty of connections, overlaps, similarities and juxtapositions between Hepburn’s roles… few of which I’ve drawn out in this set of reviews. Plenty of actors play the same character with tiny variations in multiple films; while Hepburn’s parts may not be poles apart (especially if you take Tiffany’s out of the equation), I’m sure the dedicated might find some interesting points to observe.