A Retro Review
I had never seen Breakfast At Tiffany’s until recently and I gotta say I didn’t like it. Sacrilege! I know. It is a movie that has been praised for being a classic for a long time. People often bring up Audrey Hepburn’s beauty, the loveliness of Holly Golightly, and the romance. I disagree with most of it.
If you don’t know, and I didn’t, the movie is about Paul Varjak (George Peppard) an author with minimal success who moves to New York City. When he first meets his neighbour Holly Golightly (Audrey Hepburn) he is intrigued. And as they spend some time together he can’t help but fall in love.
I realize that this movie was made in a different time but it was filled with a level of misogyny, sexism, and racism, that I found flat out offensive. When watching older movies I try to put myself in that time period and understand that the norms and the general mentality at the time was different. How people talk, react, and deal with things may seem off or strange but for that time it would have been “correct”. With this though, it was incredibly hard to overlook. It was too much, too blatant, too up front. The attitude toward women, especially the main character, is startling. All the men in her life are doing everything from manipulating, verbally abusing, and at times physically manhandling her when she does not agree with them. It was very off putting. At no point did it seem necessary, it came across kind of brutal as she is physically a small person it was like they were accosting a child.
Then there is the ridiculously offensive and completely unnecessary racist element. I get over the fact that everyone in the movie is white, everyone was white back then but to interject a single non-white, pointless character that I assume was to be the comic relief, as an overly stereotypical joke was just wrong. Even at that time I am not sure what the film makers were thinking. Making Mickey Rooney up in…yellow face, squinting the eyes, adding buck teeth, and just being completely outlandish. I mean what was Mickey Rooney thinking? He was established by the time they made this, why would he choose to do it?
I also did not get the fascination with Holly Golightly. She is apparently a “free spirit”…whatever! She is a horribly thoughtless, blindly naive individual, and a gold digger. Throughout the movie she feeds information to the mob, steals, as she leaves her own party points cops to her apartment because of a noise complaint, tells someone who loves her that she cannot love him because he isn’t rich enough, unscrupulously manipulates others into paying her bills, manages to get people to feel sorry for her and save her, and she is thankless through it all. Why is this considered being a free spirit? There is nothing wrong with doing what you want but putting people in harms way because of it is just thoughtless.
I do agree that Audrey Hepburn was beautiful as Holly Golightly. She was stylish and graceful; visually flawless. Her hair, makeup, clothing, and accessories with the backdrop of glamorous New York. I understand why people try to emulate her look. And George Peppard was handsome and dapper as Paul Varjak. The two of them together made a lovely couple. The sets were a reflection of the time, relatively sparse with each item there having a purpose. The furniture was modern, effortless, and cool all at the same time.
I can see why people might like it though. It is easy to be blinded by beautiful things. The movie isn’t inherently bad it is just greatly flawed. The plot is fine, the dialogue adequate, and the acting is good. It is the characters themselves that are the issue. Without characters to connect with, like, or even understand it all falls apart as they are the crux of the story. To me that makes the movie nonsensical and unworthy of praise.
Breakfast at Tiffany’s is considered a classic. I think that is a moniker that should be dropped. The movie is ok with good elements but the bad far out weighs the good. Sorry Deep Blue Something.