In the beginning of a series where I’ll start exploring classic films as well as local and modern fare, I present to you Reel Rewind: Breakfast at Tiffany’s.
Directed by Blake Edwards, Breakfast at Tiffany’s is an iconic film. Although loosely based on Truman Capote’s novel, the film holds its own. Capote originally had Marilyn Monroe pegged for the part of Holly Golightly, but she was under contract with another studio. As much as I love Marilyn Monroe and Audrey Hepburn, I can’t imagine anyone other than Hepburn in this role.
The film stars Hepburn as a New York City socialite who befriends a new neighbor, a writer by the name of Paul Varjack. Holly is surreptitiously streetwise and calls Paul’s bluff that while he may be a writer, that’s not how he makes his money. She does it in such a way, however, that he realizes that she’s not intending to insult him, but bond with him. They become close friends.
George Peppard plays Paul, who is a “kept man” by a wealthy, married woman known in the film as “2E” played by Patricia Neal. Neal is perfect for the role as 2E, her sultry, purring voice oozing of her inner sensuality. 2E comes to Paul’s apartment worried that she’s being followed and when Paul goes to investigate upon her behalf he discovers the man staking out the building isn’t there for 2E at all, but Holly.
Enter Doc Golightly, former husband of Holly’s. Holly annulled their marriage and left but being the lovelorn puppy he is, tracked her down in an attempt to get her to come back home. He gently threatens her if she doesn’t come home that Holly’s brother Fred, whom she’s very close to, will have to sign up for another tour in the Army as he won’t take him back in. Holly sends Doc away, after which she and Paul get “very drunk, indeed.”
Holly makes the determination to marry a rich suitor, something she’d been scheming since the beginning of the film. However, her associations with a convicted mob boss end up with her and Paul’s (who is picked up by association) arrest. Because of this, the suitor she’d been courting gives his leave of her. Paul declares his love for Holly, but she tells him, in what is arguably one of the most acclaimed scenes in film, that “We belong to nobody, and nobody belongs to us. We don’t even belong to each other.” Then Paul confronts her with the hard truth “You call yourself a free spirit, a “wild thing,” and you’re terrified somebody’s gonna stick you in a cage. Well baby, you’re already in that cage. You built it yourself. And it’s not bounded in the west by Tulip, Texas, or in the east by Somali-land. It’s wherever you go. Because no matter where you run, you just end up running into yourself.” It’s a gut wrenching scene well played by both Peppard and Hepburn.
The film does end on a happy note (no spoiler alert. You’ve had 53 years to see it). If you haven’t seen it, I highly recommend it. You can’t escape its indelible mark on pop culture. Hepburn’s character from the film is highly recognizable almost anywhere you go on bits of art, coffee mugs, posters, t-shirts. I don’t know a woman who doesn’t own a little black dress who hasn’t spun around and uttered in that delightful Hepburn accent “How do I look?”
On a related note, I’m happy to announce that the GLSEN is holding a Breakfast at Tiffany’s themed formal cocktail party at the Washington Park Lake House to benefit The Pride Center of The Capital Region’s Youth Scholarship Fund, a competitive program founded to assist graduating seniors with the cost of entering college and YouthPride, GLSEN – NYCR’s program for LGBT youth and their allies, providing leadership training and opportunities for growth since 1999. Tickets can be purchased here. Even if you can’t go, it’s a great cause to support.
Watch the film (again, for the millionth time if you’re me) and come to the benefit. There will be delicious hors d’oeuvres, a silent auction, and a 50/50 raffle. Come dressed in your favorite funky formal outfit and pretend you’re at Holly’s cocktail party.
“This is some party. Who are all these people anyway?”
“Who knows? The word gets out.”