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Overall Rating

Worth A Look: 12.2%
Average: 7.32%
Pretty Bad: 0%
Total Crap: 9.76%

1 review, 35 user ratings

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Breakfast at Tiffany's
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by Jay Seaver

"A treat, no matter what the time."
5 stars

A few years ago, I gave a set of cousins movie posters for Christmas presents. It'd been a while since I'd seen the film, so I was mostly choosing based upon the fantastically stylish design. Catching up with it, I wonder what my aunt and uncle thought about my pointing their sixteen-year-old daughter at a film about a gigolo falling in love with a call girl. It's a fantastic film, but, still...

The gigolo is Paul Varjak (George Peppard), a once-promising writer who moves into the apartment above Holly Goloightly (Audrey Hepburn). Holly probably enters "actress" or "model" on her tax returns (just as Paul likely enters "writer"), but supports herself one a hundred dollars a week to visit jailed mafioso Sally Tomato (Alan Reed) and pass a "weather report" on to his lawyer every Thursday, along with occasional fifties for "trips to the powder room". The two of them hit it off immediately and become fast friends, but their situations prevent them from acting on their attraction: Paul's "patron" (Patricia Neal) wants him to herself and Holly intends to land a millionaire for a husband, so that she can support her brother when he leaves the army (he's a bit slow).

Audrey Hepburn had several memorable roles in her career, though this is undoubtedly her signature part. Holly Golightly requires both cheerful pluck and fragile sadness, and part of what makes the film such a rewatchable delight is that even after the second time through, we can still take her simple, child-like enthusiasm at face value. There's a funny scene toward the end, well after we've learned that her history is darker than her flighty party-girl persona would suggest, where she lights up like a lantern upon seeing cameras, and it elicits simple, genuine laughter rather than thoughts on how being so chipper might be some sort of front. Hepburn presents Holly to us as sad, scared, and lonely, but doesn't let those traits entirely define her. She's genuinely charming and funny, and like Paul, we fall in love with her all over again every time we meet her.

Peppard often functions as Hepburn's straight man, especially toward the beginning, a few steps behind as Holly's mercurial mind jumps from one subject to another in a way he can't quite follow at first. Varjak starts out resigned to a life that falls short of his dreams, but Peppard builds the character's self-respect as the film goes on. By the end, the two have managed to adroitly change positions - where Holly is nudging Varjak to be his own man early on, it gets him to a position where he can do the same for her.

Hepburn and Peppard take up the lion's share of the film, but it's not entirely a two-person show. Neal is just oily enough to be off-putting as the woman keeping Varjak, and Martin Balsam is fast-talking as O.J. Berman, the man who discovered and moulded Holly into a sophisticate (or reasonable approximation thereof). Buddy Ebsen appears as an old acquaintance from Holly's home town, both paralleling and explaining her to a certain extent. John McGiver has a brief but charming bit, and Jose Luis de Villalonga is brings out the charm as one of Holly's suitors. And I know that I really should hate Mickey Rooney as the upstairs neighbor, Yunioshi - he's a Japanese stereotype that's near-impossible to defend - but Rooney plays the character with such amusing frustration and anger that I like it anyway. And the cat can steal scenes from any of them.

I haven't read Truman Capote's original novel, so I'm not sure how faithful George Axelrod's script is. Between them, they put a great deal of classic words into the characters' mouths, while Blake Edwards does an exceptional job of balancing the parts where one laughs out loud with the undercurrent of sadness that pervades the story. He gets help from Henry Mancini, who delivers a score that always complements the story without overwhelming it, even though many composers would be tempted to go with something less subtle.

Maybe the film isn't nearly as light and breezy as the classic poster with Audrey and her cat makes it look. But it's still charming and sweet, with just enough reality to it to keep the audience from dismissing it as mere fluff.

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originally posted: 02/19/07 01:56:45
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User Comments

4/26/16 Suzanne Audrey and Mancini make the movie 4 stars
10/09/08 mr.mike Enjoyed it..and I am not gay. Not that there's anything wrong with that... 4 stars
6/24/08 Reza Tayebi My God!! Terrible... 1 stars
5/21/08 Dana MY FAVORITE MOVIE! 5 stars
1/05/08 Pamela White Audrey has a great role 5 stars
8/25/07 Skippy P The scene with the cat always chokes me up. Why is that? 5 stars
5/18/07 layla marie el IT SUCKED BIG TIME!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! 1 stars
4/17/07 fools♫gold I can't say I liked it's end much. 4 stars
2/19/07 Tiffany pretty audrey hepburn. and i love the name. 5 stars
1/29/07 Steph Amazing movie. That's all there is to it. 5 stars
10/31/06 R.W.Welch Inimitable Audrey backed by Mancini. How can you beat it? 5 stars
2/03/06 Kankasaur The irrepressible Audrey Hepburn imbues another memorable character with her classic charm. 4 stars
1/04/06 tatum Sure, it's good, but no classic by far 4 stars
4/21/05 brody this racist ass movie sucks 1 stars
9/26/04 Tor Honolulu 99.9% of today's actresses can't lick Audrey's arse. Movie is deeply fun except for Mickey 5 stars
3/22/04 john sells a phantasy of a lifestyle better than a phantasy of love... but just wonderful! 5 stars
10/29/03 Jamie Dude, you gotta love that cat...he's worth the price of rental alone 5 stars
9/08/03 Amanda My least favorite Audrey Hepburn Movie, enjoyable but not as good as her usual films 3 stars
6/11/03 Mystique Lovely 5 stars
10/31/02 Summer Haven't been seeing any actresses to Match Audrey lately.. 5 stars
10/26/02 Nank A must see for any woman with substance & style! 5 stars
10/15/02 Frankie Every time I see this, I just wanna grab Audrey and just... 5 stars
10/12/02 TLsmooth I'm not gay. As hard as I've tried, I know I'll never enjoy a hairy ass. 1 stars
10/09/02 Chance it's just not fair for someone to be that beautiful. 5 stars
8/17/02 Summer They just don't make actresses like they used to... 5 stars
8/15/02 I Can't Swim Classic NYC movie, w/Audrey at the top of her charm, talent & beauty. I miss her like hell 5 stars
1/24/02 Harper Sloane 5 for style & Hepburn 5 stars
11/18/01 Andrew Carden Audrey Hepburn Was Adorable, but The Direction Was A Bit Messy. 3 stars
9/01/01 Butterbean This movie was so good that I had to buy Mattel's Audrey Hepburn doll 5 stars
7/27/01 Elvisfan Hepburn makes 99% of all actors working today look like dogshit..maybe 99.5% 5 stars
1/13/00 Jason It's Audrey Hepburn's world, I only live in it! 5 stars
1/12/00 Timmy Audrey is the hottest woman ever and George "Paul Baby" Peppard is the man 5 stars
12/08/99 Ann I adore this movie! JLH as Audrey? She wishes. 5 stars
11/30/99 Jag Audrey Hepburn is charming and Mancini fills in with the music to back it up. 5 stars
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  DVD: 07-Feb-2006

  N/A (PG)


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