Breakfast at Tiffany's (1961)

Genres - Comedy Drama, Comedy, Romance  |   Sub-Genres - Romantic Comedy, Comedy of Manners, Sophisticated Comedy  |   Run Time - 115 min.  |   Countries - United States  |   MPAA Rating - NR
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Review by Mark Deming

Blake Edwards may have directed Breakfast at Tiffany's, and screenwriter George Axelrod certainly did a splendid job of adjusting Truman Capote's novel for the screen, but from the first moment Audrey Hepburn steps out of a cab with her coffee and danish and window shops at Tiffany's after a night on the town, this is her movie, and it's all but impossible to imagine another actress in the role. Beyond her tremendous charm and buoyant comic timing, Hepburn manages to make Holly Golightly at once resilient and fragile, a woman who knows her way around Manhattan but still hasn't figured out how not to be hurt by the world around her -- it would have been easy to make Holly seem flighty and annoying, but in Hepburn's capable hands she's an adorable, jaded innocent whose hipster fa├žade and oft-stated desire to marry a wealthy man never quite disguises her need to be loved and to belong. As Paul Varjak, Holly's neighbor, friend, confidante, and eventual boyfriend, George Peppard is almost a bit too strong and solid -- he seems a mite stiff much of the time -- but he plays well off of Hepburn, and knows enough to stay out of her way; elsewhere, Patricia Neal is spot on as Paul's cheerfully cynical "sponsor," and Buddy Ebsen is superb in a brief turn as the former husband of the former Lula Mae Barnes (and could anyone blame him for wanting her back?). The film's only obvious casting mistake is Mickey Rooney, whose buck-toothed and over-the-top shtick as Mr. Yunioshi might be a shade less offensive if he were the least bit funny. However, between Edwards' frothy pacing, Franz F. Planer's lovely location camerawork, and Henry Mancini's memorable score, Breakfast at Tiffany's is a thoroughly charming and witty valentine to one special woman and the city she loves that still enchants more than 40 years after it first hit the screen. ~ Mark Deming