Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Hungry for Love? Breakfast at Tiffany’s

Breakfast at Tiffany's poster

‘She’s a phony, all right, but a real phony,’ is the way Holly Golighty’s agent,  O.J. Bergman (Martin Balsam), sums up the classic big screen character in the 1961 adaptation of the Truman Capote novella Breakfast at Tiffany's.
Naturally, the elegant and sophisticated Audrey Hepburn, who played the role, was no phony, but rather Hollywood royalty, whose mother was a real-life Baroness.
Hepburn, born Edda Kathleen van Heemstra Heburn-Ruston, was the daughter of right wing banker, Joseph Hepburn-Ruston and Dutch aristocrat Baroness Ella van Heemstra.
When the parents divorced in 1935, Audrey went to school in London, became a ballerina in Holland and later a chorus girl and model, before landing a series of small roles in British movies such as Chiquita in the Lavender Hill Mob (1951).
In contrast, Holly Golightly was a ‘socialite,’ living the ‘high life’, in keeping with the sensitivities of the times as the concept of a high-class call girl selling herself was strictly taboo.
The Blake Edwards movie was billed as a romantic comedy as the eccentric Golightly takes the 115 minutes to connect with her bemused neighbour played by George Peppard.
Breakfast was a landmark film for both actors – Aubrey liked it because the naturally introverted actress had to play an extrovert and received an Oscar nomination for her trouble - but there are other notable features.
Screenwriter George Axelrod took out an Oscar nomination for his screenplay, but it was the music which took out the big gong with Henry Mancini winning an Oscar for music score and Moon River being named best song.
Audrey crooned Moon River in Breakfast and later recorded all Eliza Doolittle’s songs in My Fair Lady, but during filming Fair Lady director George Cukor inserted Marni Nixon’s singing voice.
The story goes that Audrey was furious and stomped off the set when she found out, but later, being the trouper she was, returned, apologised and got on with the job.
Back to Breakfast, watch out for Buddy Ebsen as Doc Golightly and Mickey Rooney as a racial stereotype, and Audrey’s Japanese neighbour, I Y Yunioshi. Later Rooney copped heaps for this performance.

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