Should I give "Breakfast at Tiffany's" another chance?

About 6 years ago, my then-girlfriend and I sat down to watch “Breakfast at Tiffany’s.” I don’t remember much about it, except that the characters seemed shallow, and, despite my not particularly politically-correct sensibilities, the Mickey Rooney character took me right out of the movie. Perhaps 20 minutes in, we shut it off and switched to something else.

I notice it’s playing here tonight. I like old movies. I want to like this movie. Everybody else seems to like it. If I sit through it, will I find that it redeems itself in spite of its’ early shortcomings? (Maybe I wouldn’t have enjoyed “The Palm Beach Story” if they had front-loaded it with Stepin Fetchit.)

By all means, fast-forward through Mickey Rooney. And bear in mind that the lead character should have been Marilyn Monroe. Other than that, it’s a nice movie. Not great, but nice.

As someone who loves the book, I vote no. Other than Audrey Hepburn’s general “look”, and you can get that from stills, posters, etc., I really don’t think the movie version is worth the time.

Worth seeing and I second forwarding past Mickey Rooney. Understand that it is not the same story as the novella (which you should also read).

As long as you think of it as more Butterfield 8 than All About Eve.

It has been a long time but I seem to recall my favorite part of that movie was toward the end. And yes, it was kinda tedious getting there.

I really liked it. Give it another shot, just for the singing of Moon River.

I read the novella and then saw the movie recently (or maybe it was the other way around). The only value of the movie is that is could generate a fascinating article on the way George Axelrod adapted the story for the screen. He made many changes (although Blake Edwards added a number of improvised scenes that really changed things) and almost all of them were brilliant, given that he had to produce a Hollywood picture. It could be the best adaptation job I’ve ever seen. Understandably, people react instead to Edwards’ insane changes, such as Rooney’s caricature and the party scene, which was totally improvised. In fact, all the wacky comedy was Edwards’. And his choice of 32-year-old Audrey Hepburn to play 19-year-old Holly Golightly changes the story beyond redemption, just as the Lolita movies’ choices of post-pubescent girls to play the pre-pubescent Lolita makes those movies impossible to watch and keep any of Nabokov’s message intact. But Axelrod wrote the Tiffany scenes, which are not anywhere in the book, and they are marvelous, just as he added the older woman that is keeping George Peppard to explain his change from a 20-year-old beginning author to a middle-aged man.

However, as a movie, just to be watched, it’s a bore with a few good scenes. It’s worth watching to get a sense of the times - watching the 1960-set Mad Men series on AMC makes more sense if you watch films of the time first - but it’s in no way a good picture today.

Thirty-three is “middle-aged”? Well, I’ll be damned.

Audrey hepburn is without a doubt my all-time A#1 favorite movie star but I would rather watch Charade or How to Steal a Million for the fiftieth time before i would sit through BAT again.

I have to say “don’t do it”… Shallow does not quite capture the lack of depth in the heroine. When Deep Blue Something put out their one-hit wonder of the same name I imagined my pre-suicide routine would involve watching the movie with the sound turned down, playing the song on repeat, while I cleaned and assembled my weapon in preparation for taking my life rather than have to see one mroe scene or hear one more verse.

(sarcasm = not a real cry for help)

There are plenty of other good films; why waste time on this mediocre one which has been somehow labeled a classic despite misplaced humor, shallow characterization, and a Hollywood-ized ending much different than Capote’s novella.


I really enjoy BAT for girlie reasons – I love Hepburn’s look, so completely beautiful, and her wardrobe is amazing, and the sets and costumes (like in the party scene) are really fun to study from the vantage point of 40 years later.

But I always thought George Peppard was the most insipid love interest ever, and the story drags. Rooney’s turn as the Chinese neighbor has been transformed by time from marginally amusing in the '60s to completely offensive now.

The novella is much better, and frankly I don’t think it’s all that great, either. My favorite work by Capote has always been A Christmas Memory.

ETA: And there are several better Hepburn movies, including Roman Holiday, Sabrina, and Charade.

Because the novella has been reprinted on its own so many times, people forget that the original book padded out the length with “A Christmas Memory,” “A Diamond Guitar,” and “House of Flowers,” all of which are far better written than the title story. Most people who read only “Breakfast at Tiffany’s” would have no idea that Capote really could write.

“Truman Capote I do not know well, but I like him. He is tart as a grand aunt, but in his way is a ballsy little guy, and he is the most perfect writer of my generation, he writes the best sentences word for word, rhythm upon rhythm. I would not have changed two words in Breakfast at Tiffany’s, which will become a small classic.”
— Norman Mailer

Heh. A list of all the things Mailer was wrong about in his career would take down the server again.


Not havig been around for enough of the 60s to have much of a standard of comparison, I find it hard to believe that Rooney’s performance was ever seen as amusing, marginally or otherwise.

I have to agree with Jodi – watching Breakfast at Tiffany’s, for me, is really watching Audrey Hepburn Looking Gorgeous for Two Hours. I mean, look at her!

I also think it’s worth watching just to judge for yourself. See if it holds up as a film on its own, in retrospect, or as an adaptation. I too was pretty disappointed in the content when I saw it the first time – but really, I wanted to know what everyone was talking about. And now I do.

:: Shrug :: Believe what you like. It seems pretty clear to me, however, that the overblown charicature of Mr. Yunioshi was intended as a comedic element in the movie, complete with those ever-so-hilarious buck teeth and his repeated screaming at “Missah Go-Rite-Ree!” Whether it actually is funny (it isn’t, it’s painful on several levels*) doesn’t seem to me to have much to do with whether it was supposed to be funny.

  • Aside from the complete racism of it, which should have been out of place even in . . . :: checks IMDb :: . . . 1961, the exaggerated costuming, language, and gesturing of the character is very reminiscent of vaudevillian performance, and is completely out of place in the movie, which was supposed to read as “modern” in setting and characters. And the character is largely extraneous to the story so Edwards’ focus on him (“Look! It’s Mickey Rooney!”) is distracting. All IMO, of course.

Though Capote’s choice was the 35 year old Monroe, who had lost it so badly that two years before she had to have 40 some takes to complete simple scenes in Some Like It Hot (she pulled it off - though there are scenes in Some Like It Hot where the drugs and booze seem to show)- and who would be dead a year later. He either envisioned a younger Monroe, or a Holly that was significantly different than the novella.