Monday, July 30, 2012

Repost: Breakfast at Tiffany's (August 4th at the Palace Theatre)

[BREAKFAST AT TIFFANY'S screens Saturday August 4th at 8:00 pm at the Palace Theatre as part of Cinema at the Square]

Review by Charles Cassady Jr.

Elsewhere on this site I vent my contempt for the general run of “date movies” and Valentine’s Day in general. However, I must be kind to BREAKFAST AT TIFFANY’S, screening in revival here coincident to the unfortunate romance-connected holiday (I guess if militant Islam conquers us, Valentine’s Day will be banned under Sharia law; is that a silver lining or what?). BREAKFAST AT TIFFANY’S is a celluloid valentine, to the only things that really deserve a valentine – to New York City in 1961, to the beauty and grace of Audrey Hepburn, and to youthful illusions and metropolitan delusions. All are given a glossy sheen in champagne direction by the recently deceased Blake Edwards.

It’s inspired by the Truman Capote novella, about one of the original New York club kids, socialite Holly Golightly (Hepburn). We meet her mainly via the POV of Paul (George Peppard), her upstairs neighbor, who observes the stylish, white-gloved party girl leading a seemingly charmed life in a nonstop whirl of all-night soirees and suitors. On the surface she’s an ultra-sophisticate, but Paul senses there’s more (or less) than meets the eye, and ultimately Holly’s true nature comes out in the wash. One character famously sums up the heroine in the script adapted by the fine playwright-screenwriter George Alexlrod: “She’s a phony all right – but a real phony.” Manhattan women never had a better definition.

One of my arcane movie books claims that Audrey Hepburn’s ascent as a movie starlet was a collective audience rebellion against Hollywood’s prevailing big-busted blonde bombshell image, the theory being that American tastes shifted to petite, dark-haired, doe-eyed, flat-chested Audrey over the likes of Marilyn Monroe or Jayne Mansfield. A sweet proposition, but that's kind of like thinking that Americans would refuse the chance to invade a smaller foreign country, and probably just as invalid. But when Henry Mancini’s Oscar-winning “Moon River” theme song swells on the soundtrack, you get so damned carried away by BREAKFAST AT TIFFANY’S you’ll buy into anything the movie sells, despite its occasional overstated sentiment or caricatures. The most notorious of the latter is Mickey Rooney as a bucktoothed Japanese, a dwarfy camera nut living next to Holly who is disturbed by her rackets. I believe clips of this character in BREAKFAST AT TIFFANY’S were used to exemplify racism in DRAGON: THE BRUCE LEE STORY. Show of hands: who remembers anything about DRAGON: THE BRUCE LEE STORY? Who would like to live in the world of BREAKFAST AT TIFFANY’S? I rest my case. 3 ½ out of 4 stars.

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