Films: Breakfast at Tiffany’s (1961) Directed by Blake Edwards

Breakfast at Tiffany’s is one of those films everyone knows of. But how many have actually watched it? 

The images of Audrey Hepburn from Breakfast at Tiffany’s are still seen everywhere today, iconic of 1960’s Hollywood and glamour. 

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(photos I use in this blog are obviously not mine, but were found on google) 

From the opening credits to the lingering final shot, the film is all about Holly Golightly, Audrey Hepburn’s character. Audrey Hepburn’s portrayal of Holly Golightly demonstrates a naive and eccentric socialite, which is generally considered to be her most memorable and identifiable role. She has been said to have regarded it as one of her most challenging roles, since she was naturally an introvert, yet played an extrovert, and there has also been speculation that Holly Golightly was a call girl, which has caused some controversy. (more on that later on)

The film opens to Hepburn’s character eating breakfast outside of a jewellers, Tiffany’s. Hepburn carrying an oversized cigarette holder is considered one of the most iconic images of the twentieth century, as well as the “Little Black Dress” by Givenchy, worn at the beginning of the film, which is cited as perhaps the most famous little black dress of all time. Dressed as glamorous as ever, with a pinch of diva, we’re immediately drawn in to the story and main character.

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Marilyn Monroe was supposedly the first choice for the role of Holly, but, and I say this with complete adoration for Marilyn, I can’t imagine anyone doing it better than Audrey Hepburn. Audrey’s appearance – slender figure, sleek and her big, dark enchanting eyes – helped make the character as endearing as she was. Hollywood needed a new starlet who didn’t conform to the same standards many others at the time did.

Audrey Hepburn wore her iconic little black dress whigh symbolised that no matter how you’re feeling inside, a fantastic LBD can give you the confidence to take on anything. With added sass. Breakfast at Tiffany’s with Marilyn’s bust and sex appeal would have been an altogether different film, not that Audrey didn’t have appeal as well. She did in a different way. She was legendarily beautiful and sophisticated, for the way she gazed, smiled and carried herself with so much confidence and grace. She wasn’t really a sex object, but more an English Rose, without the English part!

Had Marilyn have taken on the role, the film would have crossed the line with its subtleties to Holly being a call girl, in my opinion. The film doesn’t make Holly’s occupation totally obvious, but gives us enough hints. “$50 for the powder room” is a big one.

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And in a time where most films depicted women to be either married and unhappy, or single and unhappy whilst looking for the love of their life, Breakfast at Tiffany’s takes a different turn and hints at a leading female character who had sex outside of marriage and made a living out of it. It’s really quite scandalous for the time it was made. Women were rarely depicted as having sex outside of marriage, but Holly Golightly married, divorced and had several other relations afterwards. She  was shown to embrace her sexuality and have no apologies. It’s refreshing in such an old film.

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The overall plot to the film, I found somewhat slow, but the aesthetics are great. The colours are rich and Hepburn’s costume changes, many of which are iconic, kept my interest, as well as Hepburn’s portrayal as the main character. I found other characters to be lacking, especially the male lead who Holly ultimately ends up with, which all the more draws attention to the strong character of Hepburn’s. Mickey Rooney’s offensive portrayal of Japanese tenant Mr. Yunioshi is shocking in today’s world, but another example of standards that were acceptable back in those days.

Overall, Breakfast at Tiffany’s isn’t necessarily one of my favourite old classics, but is a must-watch for anyone interested in old cinema, for those iconic scenes and images of Audrey Hepburn and subtle hints to her occupation as a call girl. She also has some good comedic moments.

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