25 September 2009 | hall895
A showcase for Audrey
Breakfast at Tiffany's is a mostly charming film which serves as a wonderful showcase for the great Audrey Hepburn. In her portrayal of Holly Golightly Hepburn created one of the most iconic characters in film history. This is a memorable film and it's Hepburn who makes it so. She is at the center of everything that goes on in the film and you can't help but be charmed by Holly Golightly. The movie has its flaws, most notably one incredibly unfortunate casting decision, but all these years later it is rightly remembered fondly by most who have had the pleasure of seeing it.
Holly Golightly makes her living as an escort, but it's not as unseemly as it might seem. What she really is more than anything else is an extroverted Manhattan socialite around whom all kinds of craziness swirls. That craziness is best typified in a famous party scene in Holly's apartment. There are so many people crammed into Holly's little apartment, there's so much going on that you don't even know where to look. But inevitably the eye is drawn back to Holly herself. The character has such style and charisma, as of course does the actress playing her. Everyone remembers the famous black dress but the beauty and elegance of Audrey Hepburn shine through no matter what Holly Golightly's wearing. Heck, she could wear a sheet and make it seem elegant. In fact she does. And that sums up Holly Golightly rather nicely. Beautiful, charming, engaging...and more than a touch eccentric.
It's Audrey's movie through and through and she is never anything less than wonderful in her performance. Playing opposite her in the key male role is George Peppard and he at times comes across as being a little wooden, maybe somewhat dull. But perhaps his character is just suffering in comparison to Holly Golightly who is many things, dull certainly not one of them. Buddy Ebsen has a small role but an important one as it is his character who provides some insight into who Holly really is, or at least who she used to be. We come to learn that Holly has pretty much reinvented herself and there are some wistful moments as we see why she may have felt the need to do so. There will be some roadblocks thrown up in the way of Holly's seemingly blissful existence and as she confronts these obstacles there are times where you know she's doing the wrong thing. But you love her anyway and just hold out hope she'll get it right in the end. That's the irresistible charm of Audrey Hepburn working its magic.
It must be said that for all its charm the film does have one serious black mark against it. Mickey Rooney's portrayal of Holly's bucktoothed, slant-eyed stereotyped Japanese neighbor Mr. Yunioshi is absolutely appalling. It's the type of thing you'd expect from a film made in the 1920s. By 1961 you would have hoped people would have known better. Apparently not. Every time this character appears on the screen you can't help but cringe. The character takes you out of the movie watching experience entirely. You don't see him as a character named Mr. Yunioshi, all you see is Mickey Rooney in hideous yellowface makeup. Awful. And for a character meant to serve as comic relief, even had an Asian actor been cast there is no way around the fact that the character is just not funny at all. It's the one major flaw in a film which, while maybe not an all-time classic, is certainly charming and enjoyable throughout. And as a showcase for the talents and elegance of Audrey Hepburn it could not work any better.