Hello, everybody. Joe Morella and Frank Segers, your classic movie guys, here today to sheepishly disclose that yes, we — very occasionally — have sharply different views of a particular movie “classic.” And this is one of those times.
Joe has been waiting for a bit of reader outrage over Frank’s contention that Breakfast at Tiffany’s is not worthy of inclusion in a list of best films. Joe must have been asleep (or hung over) on New Year’s Day when Frank blogged about The National Registry’s inclusion of the film on its list in 2012 and said:
Breakfast at Tiffany’s is the weakest choice. This piece of 1961 fluff directed by Blake Edwards starring Audrey Hepburn is based on a Truman Capote story about a girl from the sticks conquering New York City is spared by excellent musical contributions composed by Henry Mancini, including the song “Moon River.” The music is unforgettable, as is Hepburn. The picture less so.
Joe disagrees, EMPHATICALLY. It’s one of his favorite films and he could watch it again and again. Yes, it’s Hollywood’s version of a New York call girl (but no less realistic than Pretty Woman.) Yes, Mickey Rooney’s role as her Japanese neighbor is racist and overplayed. BUT the chemistry between Hepburn and George Peppard is tremendous.
And it was great to see Patricia Neal segueing into character roles. It paved the way for her character actress/supporting/leading lady part in 1963’s Hud opposite Paul Newman.
Tiffany’s is everything a Hollywood film of that era should be– Glossy, Romantic, Magical, and Uplifting. Ok, Frank, be the curmudgeon.
Gladly, Joe. You make the excellent point that the movie has a solid cast for the most part. You forgot to mention Martin Balsam, Buddy Ebsen and John McGiver. Certainly Hollywood in its dying old studio days (Paramount was the distributor here) gave the picture its best shot.
But George Peppard as the struggling writer who somehow has the means to live on Manhattan’s East Side? (Joe: He was being KEPT Frank)
C’mon. He was one of the most tedious actors of the period, immensely impressed with himself and his “talent” and relentlessly uninteresting. It’s no accident that Peppard didn’t hit his stride until later in his career when he starred in a couple of TV action series. Good for him, but a romantic leading man opposite Hepburn? Uh-uh.
And let’s not dismiss that whore-with-a-heart-of-gold sub theme. Barbara Stanwyck could get away with this conceit, not the cultivated charmer that was Audrey Hepburn. Even her character’s name, Holly Golightly, reeks of pseudo-literary preciousness.(Joe: It’s from the novella Frank.) And, yes, even glossy romantic comedy requires at least a touch of realism.
Putting Breakfast at Tiffany’s up there as the National Registry folks did in the same category with 3:10 To Yuma and even Anatomy of a Murder — not to mention Born Yesterday — reinforces Frank’s distrust of classic movie picks by established cultural institutions. To thine own instincts be true.