Paramount (Jurow-Shepherd Productions)
Blake Edwards directed this charming is slightly sentimental adaptation of Truman's Capote's famous novel about a call girl, Holly Golightly (Audrey Hepburn), an eccentric woman who claims to support herself from tips as a powder room attendant.
That he was a replacement director–John Frankenheimer was going to direct–makes his achivement all the more imoressive.
In this serio romantic tale, Holly falls in love with her neighbor Paul (a miscast George Peppard), an aspiring writer who's actually playboy supported by an older wealthy matron (a terrific Patricia Neal). This presents an obstacle to his growing attraction, as well as his puzzlement by Holly's erratic behavior, which goes from giving all-night parties for her friends to being lonely and neurotic in the company of her cat.
Things get more complicated when Holly's past is revealed through the character of Doc Golightly (Buddy Ebsen), a visitor from rural Texas who reveals some of the truth behind Holly's surface sophistication.
Nonetheless, Edwards makes sure that his movie fantasy, a real Valentine to New York's Greenwich Village, where Holly resides and Fifth Avenue's Tiffany's, which Holly visits whenever her spirits are down, ends in an emotionally satisfying way. Capote purists have always found the film to be too sentimental. Indeed, Holly's visit to an imprisoned ganglord (Alan Reed) and coming out of powder rooms are mysterious but understandable, due to the restriction imposed by the Code of Production on the portraiture of prostitution on screen.
With one notable exception, the supporting cast, which includes Buddy Ebsen, Martin Balsam, and John McGiver. As Holly's agent, Balsam is given the film's best line, when he notes: "She's a phony, all right, but a real phony."
That notable exception is Mickey Rooney, who plays Holly's unpleasant Japanese neighbor. Blatantly racist, even by Hollywood standards of 1961, Rooney is a caricature, all the way with his buckteeth. It's a note that almost, but not quite, spoils the fun of an otherwise charming and touching tale, adapted to the screen by George Axelrod.
Hard to believe that Capote himself was initially against Hepburn, instead favoring Marilyn Monroe, who would have turned the movie into something else, closer in vein to The Seven Year Itch, the Broadway hit and later Hollywood movie that Axelrod wrote.
Among the benefits is Hepburn's wonderful rendition of Henry Mancini's melodic and elegiac song, "Moon River," which won the Song Oscar and became a popular favorite played in nightclubs and bars for the rest of the decade; Mancini's score also received an Oscar.
Hepburn was nominated for Best Actress, but lost to Sophia Loren in the Italian movie, "Two Women." The Academy voters must have been in a somber mood for the Adapted Screenplay Oscar that year went to Abby Mann for "Judgment at Nuremberg."
Entering a creative and crucial phase of his career, Edward followed up this romantic drama with "Days of Wine and Roses," before plunging into the Pink Panther movies that would define the rest of his work.
Oscar Nominations: 5
Actress: Audrey Hepburn
Screenplay (Adapted): George Axelord
Art Direction-Set Decoration (Color): Hal Pereira and Roland Anderson; Sam Comer and Ray Moyer Scoring (Dramatic or Comedy): Henry Mancini
Song: "Moon River," music by Henry Mancini, lyrics by Johnny Mercer
Oscar Awards: 2
Holly Golighty (Audrey Hepburn)
Paul Varjak (George Peppard)
2-E (Patricia Neal)
Doc Golighty (Buddy Ebsen)
O.J. Berman (Martin Balsam)
Mr. Yunioshi (Mickey Rooney)
Jose da Silva Perreira (Jose-Luis de Vilallonga0
Tiffany's Clerk (John McGiver)
mag Wildwood 9Dorothy Whitney)
Rusty Trawler (Stanley Adams)
Produced by Martin Jurow, Richard Shepherd
Directed by Blake Edwards
Screenplay: George Axelrod (based on the novella by Truman Capote)
camera; Franz Planer
Editor: Howard Smith
Music: Henry Mancini
Costumes; Edith Head