Fading Fast

Connoisseur
breakfast_at_tiffanys500pix.jpg

Breakfast at Tiffany's from 1961 with Audrey Hepburn, George Peppard, Patricia Neal, Buddy Ebsen and Mickey Rooney

TCM's current series, Reframed: Classic Films in the Rearview Mirror, discusses the racism, sexism, prejudices and stereotypes in movie history. It's been a smart and honest approach so far that doesn't elide the ugliness, but does recognize that, effectively, it's a part of these movies that can't be effaced, nor TCM argues, should it.

If you want to watch these movies, you can't avoid seeing these odious period cultural norms (some of which were already dated at the time as culture moves forward haphazardly). For Breakfast at Tiffany's, the TCM discussion rightly points out the terrible, racist and insulting character of Mr. Yunioshi played by Mickey Rooney. His portrayal of a buck-toothed, bumbling and immature Japanese man is awful, insulting and cringe worthy.

The truly crazy thing about Mr. Yunioshi is his character fits neither the sophisticated style, nor the forward-looking social commentary, of Breakfast at Tiffany's. Sadly, it's just an awful and demeaning part of an otherwise outstanding film.

Having seen Breakfast at Tiffany's more times than I'll admit unless under extreme interrogation methods, my relationship with this movie is like visiting with a life-long friend. Each time, I focus on a different aspect of the movie as I have long since absorbed the plot.

For newbies, the plot is Audry Hepburn, as Holly Golightly - a young New York City partier, socialite wannabe, gold digger and courtesan - having her confidently cynical approach to life disrupted by her upstairs neighbor, George Peppard.

He, like Holly, makes his living from wealthier New Yorkers who, no other way to say it, pay to have sex with these very pretty people. While Peppard is weary of his demimonde lifestyle and immediately sees the value of real love with Hepburn, it takes Hepburn the length of the movie - as her various marry-someone-rich plans continue to fall through - to see its value too.

The story is a good one, but what captured my attention this viewing is Breakfast at Tiffany's style. Though being, at times, sad, morose and bleak, every scene, even the most dispiriting, is visually appealing. Bus depots, the NYC Public Library, police stations and even strip clubs are all stylishly beautiful in Breakfast at Tiffany's. Despite Hepburn's and Peppard's problems, you want to live in this world (if it would have you).

When a depressed Ms. Hepburn, suffering from a case of what she calls "the mean reds," sits on her window sill, with one foot resting on the fire escape singing the melancholy Moon River, she's in jeans and a grey sweatshirt with her wet hair wrapped in a towel, yet she looks fantastic.

A five-and-dime store never appeared more attractive and color coordinated than the one where Hepburn and Peppard don and then abscond with plastic Halloween cat and dog masks. It's not the disheveled Woolworth of my youth, but like a store designed by Andy Warhol at the height of his Pop Art powers.

The wardrobes - where one assumes half or more the movie's budget was spent - are a trip though early sixties cool with Hepburn wearing the best little black dress (not the famous opening-scene evening gown) possibly of all time. She has so many wardrobe changes that several of them take place on screen and serve to advance the plot (see Hepburn preparing to go to Sing Sing or in the cab after her time at the local precinct).

But she's matched outfit change for outfit change by Peppard's cougar-provided sartorial splendor (note his insane closet). Even said cougar, Patricia Neal, strikes a style note. She sweeps in and out of scenes while treating Peppard like the kept man he is, but with so much over-the-top style you kinda like her, or respect her, or are scared of her, or something, but you are aware of her panache.

Even at the end, when all pretense is stripped away and the two lovers, broke, spiritually broken and soaked to the bone, are standing in a garbage-strewn alley (has garbage ever looked so artfully arranged?), with a wet cat pressed between them, their world is still visually enticing.

None of this even touches on the other style icon of the movie, New York City itself. Maybe that can be the focus on my next viewing. Director Blake Edwards had a style vision for this movie that carries so consistently from scene to scene that it serves as a narrative technique. Yes, there's an engaging story, talented acting and much pain and sorrow, but Breakfast at Tiffany's is also an insanely beautiful trip through early-sixties New York City from the opening to closing shot.

TCM deserves Kudos for its honest, unvarnished look at movies like Breakfast at Tiffany's. But being blunt, it's also a self-preservation effort by TCM to get in front of woke cancel culture as its survival depends on these movies being "acceptable" viewing. TCM has one product - old movies - so it can't afford for them to be the next thing tossed on this unforgiving generation's bonfire of the vanities.


N.B., I live three blocks from Holly Golightly's apartment building in NYC. It's still there and looks reasonably similar to how it did in the movie, umm, not that I, uh, err, walk by it often just to look.

The "mean reds."
tumblr_n7acjqWeFh1qbilh4o1_r1_640.jpg


A Pop Art Five and Dime.
Shoplifting Masks at Five and Dime.gif


Early '60s cool.
audrey-hepburn-george-peppard-breakfast-at-tiffanys-1961-DT6XT4.jpg


Best LBD ever.
Annex - Hepburn, Audrey (Breakfast at Tiffany's)_24.jpg


She (far right) is paying him (far left) to sleep with stylish her and she (middle) knows it.
George-Peppard-Audrey-Hepburn-Patricia-Neal-Breakfast.jpg


I'm not much for "Hollywood" kisses, but this is a darn good one.
Petó_Breakfast_at_Tiffany's-2.jpg


And the apartment today.
hglaptnyues.jpg
 

eagle2250

Connoisseur/Curmudgeon Emeritus - Moderator
View attachment 57420
Breakfast at Tiffany's from 1961 with Audrey Hepburn, George Peppard, Patricia Neal, Buddy Ebsen and Mickey Rooney

TCM's current series, Reframed: Classic Films in the Rearview Mirror, discusses the racism, sexism, prejudices and stereotypes in movie history. It's been a smart and honest approach so far that doesn't elide the ugliness, but does recognize that, effectively, it's a part of these movies that can't be effaced, nor TCM argues, should it.

If you want to watch these movies, you can't avoid seeing these odious period cultural norms (some of which were already dated at the time as culture moves forward haphazardly). For Breakfast at Tiffany's, the TCM discussion rightly points out the terrible, racist and insulting character of Mr. Yunioshi played by Mickey Rooney. His portrayal of a buck-toothed, bumbling and immature Japanese man is awful, insulting and cringe worthy.

The truly crazy thing about Mr. Yunioshi is his character fits neither the sophisticated style, nor the forward-looking social commentary, of Breakfast at Tiffany's. Sadly, it's just an awful and demeaning part of an otherwise outstanding film.

Having seen Breakfast at Tiffany's more times than I'll admit unless under extreme interrogation methods, my relationship with this movie is like visiting with a life-long friend. Each time, I focus on a different aspect of the movie as I have long since absorbed the plot.

For newbies, the plot is Audry Hepburn, as Holly Golightly - a young New York City partier, socialite wannabe, gold digger and courtesan - having her confidently cynical approach to life disrupted by her upstairs neighbor, George Peppard.

He, like Holly, makes his living from wealthier New Yorkers who, no other way to say it, pay to have sex with these very pretty people. While Peppard is weary of his demimonde lifestyle and immediately sees the value of real love with Hepburn, it takes Hepburn the length of the movie - as her various marry-someone-rich plans continue to fall through - to see its value too.

The story is a good one, but what captured my attention this viewing is Breakfast at Tiffany's style. Though being, at times, sad, morose and bleak, every scene, even the most dispiriting, is visually appealing. Bus depots, the NYC Public Library, police stations and even strip clubs are all stylishly beautiful in Breakfast at Tiffany's. Despite Hepburn's and Peppard's problems, you want to live in this world (if it would have you).

When a depressed Ms. Hepburn, suffering from a case of what she calls "the mean reds," sits on her window sill, with one foot resting on the fire escape singing the melancholy Moon River, she's in jeans and a grey sweatshirt with her wet hair wrapped in a towel, yet she looks fantastic.

A five-and-dime store never appeared more attractive and color coordinated than the one where Hepburn and Peppard don and then abscond with plastic Halloween cat and dog masks. It's not the disheveled Woolworth of my youth, but like a store designed by Andy Warhol at the height of his Pop Art powers.

The wardrobes - where one assumes half or more the movie's budget was spent - are a trip though early sixties cool with Hepburn wearing the best little black dress (not the famous opening-scene evening gown) possibly of all time. She has so many wardrobe changes that several of them take place on screen and serve to advance the plot (see Hepburn preparing to go to Sing Sing or in the cab after her time at the local precinct).

But she's matched outfit change for outfit change by Peppard's cougar-provided sartorial splendor (note his insane closet). Even said cougar, Patricia Neal, strikes a style note. She sweeps in and out of scenes while treating Peppard like the kept man he is, but with so much over-the-top style you kinda like her, or respect her, or are scared of her, or something, but you are aware of her panache.

Even at the end, when all pretense is stripped away and the two lovers, broke, spiritually broken and soaked to the bone, are standing in a garbage-strewn alley (has garbage ever looked so artfully arranged?), with a wet cat pressed between them, their world is still visually enticing.

None of this even touches on the other style icon of the movie, New York City itself. Maybe that can be the focus on my next viewing. Director Blake Edwards had a style vision for this movie that carries so consistently from scene to scene that it serves as a narrative technique. Yes, there's an engaging story, talented acting and much pain and sorrow, but Breakfast at Tiffany's is also an insanely beautiful trip through early-sixties New York City from the opening to closing shot.

TCM deserves Kudos for its honest, unvarnished look at movies like Breakfast at Tiffany's. But being blunt, it's also a self-preservation effort by TCM to get in front of woke cancel culture as its survival depends on these movies being "acceptable" viewing. TCM has one product - old movies - so it can't afford for them to be the next thing tossed on this unforgiving generation's bonfire of the vanities.


N.B., I live three blocks from Holly Golightly's apartment building in NYC. It's still there and looks reasonably similar to how it did in the movie, umm, not that I, uh, err, walk by it often just to look.

The "mean reds."
View attachment 57411

A Pop Art Five and Dime.
View attachment 57412

Early '60s cool.
View attachment 57413

Best LBD ever.
View attachment 57414

She (far right) is paying him (far left) to sleep with stylish her and she (middle) knows it.
View attachment 57415

I'm not much for "Hollywood" kisses, but this is a darn good one.
View attachment 57416

And the apartment today. View attachment 57419
As you note, I too have watched Breakfast At Tiffany's (more than) a few times and have greatly enjoyed the experience each and every time. I must tell you I greatly admire and am somewhat envious of your ability to dive so deeply into the movie(s), evaluating the experience in such detail and sharing it with your readers in a way that is at ones fascinating, educational and makes the movie under review, so much more enjoyable for the rest of us. A truly great review, as always! ;)

PS; Every time Hollie GiLightly lights up another cigarette, I cringe thinking of the damage it could do to that beautiful singing voice of hers. Just saying....
 

Fading Fast

Connoisseur
As you note, I too have watched Breakfast At Tiffany's (more than) a few times and have greatly enjoyed the experience each and every time. I must tell you I greatly admire and am somewhat envious of your ability to dive so deeply into the movie(s), evaluating the experience in such detail and sharing it with your readers in a way that is at ones fascinating, educational and makes the movie under review, so much more enjoyable for the rest of us. A truly great review, as always! ;)

PS; Every time Hollie GiLightly lights up another cigarette, I cringe thinking of the damage it could do to that beautiful singing voice of hers. Just saying....
Thank you so much for your very kind comments. I enjoy sharing these movies with everyone.

It's so hard to watch all the smoking in these old movies. I am just old enough to have, as a kid, seen the end of the "everyone smokes" era (the '70s) and, even still, can't believe how much smoking went on.

It's so nice that, other than occasionally on the street, you no longer even run into smoke accidentally.
 

Fading Fast

Connoisseur
Late-Spring025_WEB_cropped.jpg

Late Spring from 1949, a Japanese movie with English subtitles staring Chishû Ryû and Setsuko Hara

A small budget can be a forced gift to filmmakers as it often requires them to focus on storytelling, character development and capturing beautiful, simple moments. Director Yasujiro Ozu leverages all of these to produce a gem of a movie in Late Spring.

Twenty-seven-year-old Noriko lives at home with her widowed professor father Shukichi. While she does most of the housekeeping, it is a surprisingly modern relationship where her father will help at times around the house while giving her a lot of space to live her life. If she doesn't like something, she speaks up and he takes notice.

But overall, they just have a comfortable, well-oiled-machine existence where they are glad to see each other at the end of the day. However, everyone around them - aunts, friends, business associates - wonders why pretty twenty-seven-year-old Noriko isn't married. As much as you want to tell them all to mind their own business, their point - what will happen to Noriko as her father ages - can't simply be dismissed.

Shukichi sees the problem, while Noriko doesn't want to hear about it. After a close male friend of Noriko - he seemed like he could have been "the one" for her - marries another woman, an aunt arranges a meeting with an eligible young man.

When that man asks Noriko to marry him, indirectly through family, the way arranged marriages were done at that time in Japan, Noriko faces a crisis. She sees the logic of marrying this good man, but doesn't want to give up her happy existence with her father.

Shukichi, who will lose his daughter since the bride is, generally, "absorbed" into her husband's family, creates a touching fiction about a woman he's considering marrying to encourage his daughter to marry. That's it; that's the plot and it makes for an engaging, heartfelt and beautiful film.

There is a wonderful low-key love and understanding in this father-daughter relationship that director Yasujiro Ozu reveals with poignantly "small" gestures. When Noriko and Shukichi take the train into the city, he offers his seat to her, but she says no as she knows her aging father will be more comfortable sitting. Equally touching is when dad quietly brings Noriko toast and tea as he senses her hurt after learning her close male friend has become engaged to another woman. These gestures are subtle yet quite moving.

Yasujiro uses a similar "simple" technique of letting the camera alone comment on the reality, struggles and beauty of post-war Japan such as filming, from an inbound train, a crowded, but recovering, industrial center with many large American companies amidst the smaller (for the moment) Japanese ones. Later, during a family trip to Kyoto, Yasujiro lets the camera show the beauty of "old" Japan as it quietly pans stunning ancient temples set amidst gorgeous rolling hills and cherry blossom trees.

It's 1949 and Japan is a recovering country with many signs of American influence, presented here in a positive light. The short scene of Japanese children, clad in American uniforms, playing baseball is a fun example. But the heart and soul of this movie is a moving father-daughter relationship where neither wants their world to change, but both know time will not allow it to stand still. Late Spring is a love letter to the end of that phase of their lives. It's sad, heartwarming, but hopeful and, just maybe, a metaphor for Japan and its evolving relationship with its American "parent" in 1949.
 

TKI67

Elite Member
View attachment 57420
Breakfast at Tiffany's from 1961 with Audrey Hepburn, George Peppard, Patricia Neal, Buddy Ebsen and Mickey Rooney

TCM's current series, Reframed: Classic Films in the Rearview Mirror, discusses the racism, sexism, prejudices and stereotypes in movie history. It's been a smart and honest approach so far that doesn't elide the ugliness, but does recognize that, effectively, it's a part of these movies that can't be effaced, nor TCM argues, should it.

If you want to watch these movies, you can't avoid seeing these odious period cultural norms (some of which were already dated at the time as culture moves forward haphazardly). For Breakfast at Tiffany's, the TCM discussion rightly points out the terrible, racist and insulting character of Mr. Yunioshi played by Mickey Rooney. His portrayal of a buck-toothed, bumbling and immature Japanese man is awful, insulting and cringe worthy.

The truly crazy thing about Mr. Yunioshi is his character fits neither the sophisticated style, nor the forward-looking social commentary, of Breakfast at Tiffany's. Sadly, it's just an awful and demeaning part of an otherwise outstanding film.

Having seen Breakfast at Tiffany's more times than I'll admit unless under extreme interrogation methods, my relationship with this movie is like visiting with a life-long friend. Each time, I focus on a different aspect of the movie as I have long since absorbed the plot.

For newbies, the plot is Audry Hepburn, as Holly Golightly - a young New York City partier, socialite wannabe, gold digger and courtesan - having her confidently cynical approach to life disrupted by her upstairs neighbor, George Peppard.

He, like Holly, makes his living from wealthier New Yorkers who, no other way to say it, pay to have sex with these very pretty people. While Peppard is weary of his demimonde lifestyle and immediately sees the value of real love with Hepburn, it takes Hepburn the length of the movie - as her various marry-someone-rich plans continue to fall through - to see its value too.

The story is a good one, but what captured my attention this viewing is Breakfast at Tiffany's style. Though being, at times, sad, morose and bleak, every scene, even the most dispiriting, is visually appealing. Bus depots, the NYC Public Library, police stations and even strip clubs are all stylishly beautiful in Breakfast at Tiffany's. Despite Hepburn's and Peppard's problems, you want to live in this world (if it would have you).

When a depressed Ms. Hepburn, suffering from a case of what she calls "the mean reds," sits on her window sill, with one foot resting on the fire escape singing the melancholy Moon River, she's in jeans and a grey sweatshirt with her wet hair wrapped in a towel, yet she looks fantastic.

A five-and-dime store never appeared more attractive and color coordinated than the one where Hepburn and Peppard don and then abscond with plastic Halloween cat and dog masks. It's not the disheveled Woolworth of my youth, but like a store designed by Andy Warhol at the height of his Pop Art powers.

The wardrobes - where one assumes half or more the movie's budget was spent - are a trip though early sixties cool with Hepburn wearing the best little black dress (not the famous opening-scene evening gown) possibly of all time. She has so many wardrobe changes that several of them take place on screen and serve to advance the plot (see Hepburn preparing to go to Sing Sing or in the cab after her time at the local precinct).

But she's matched outfit change for outfit change by Peppard's cougar-provided sartorial splendor (note his insane closet). Even said cougar, Patricia Neal, strikes a style note. She sweeps in and out of scenes while treating Peppard like the kept man he is, but with so much over-the-top style you kinda like her, or respect her, or are scared of her, or something, but you are aware of her panache.

Even at the end, when all pretense is stripped away and the two lovers, broke, spiritually broken and soaked to the bone, are standing in a garbage-strewn alley (has garbage ever looked so artfully arranged?), with a wet cat pressed between them, their world is still visually enticing.

None of this even touches on the other style icon of the movie, New York City itself. Maybe that can be the focus on my next viewing. Director Blake Edwards had a style vision for this movie that carries so consistently from scene to scene that it serves as a narrative technique. Yes, there's an engaging story, talented acting and much pain and sorrow, but Breakfast at Tiffany's is also an insanely beautiful trip through early-sixties New York City from the opening to closing shot.

TCM deserves Kudos for its honest, unvarnished look at movies like Breakfast at Tiffany's. But being blunt, it's also a self-preservation effort by TCM to get in front of woke cancel culture as its survival depends on these movies being "acceptable" viewing. TCM has one product - old movies - so it can't afford for them to be the next thing tossed on this unforgiving generation's bonfire of the vanities.


N.B., I live three blocks from Holly Golightly's apartment building in NYC. It's still there and looks reasonably similar to how it did in the movie, umm, not that I, uh, err, walk by it often just to look.

The "mean reds."
View attachment 57411

A Pop Art Five and Dime.
View attachment 57412

Early '60s cool.
View attachment 57413

Best LBD ever.
View attachment 57414

She (far right) is paying him (far left) to sleep with stylish her and she (middle) knows it.
View attachment 57415

I'm not much for "Hollywood" kisses, but this is a darn good one.
View attachment 57416

And the apartment today. View attachment 57419
A wonderful review of a wonderful movie. I wish Mr. Yunioshi could have been edited out of it. The city in that era, the style of the time, and the music are iconic. It is odd that another movie of that general time and place that I love, also a movie with a dark side, is The World of Henry Orient, and it, too, is stained by some awkward and unnecessary treatment of racist stereotypes. But when I watch it it brings back a flood memories of the city at that time.
 

Fading Fast

Connoisseur
A wonderful review of a wonderful movie. I wish Mr. Yunioshi could have been edited out of it. The city in that era, the style of the time, and the music are iconic. It is odd that another movie of that general time and place that I love, also a movie with a dark side, is The World of Henry Orient, and it, too, is stained by some awkward and unnecessary treatment of racist stereotypes. But when I watch it it brings back a flood memories of the city at that time.
Thank you. As you note, the time travel is wonderful. I haven't seen "The World fo Henry Orient," but will keep an eye out for it now.
 

TKI67

Elite Member
Thank you. As you note, the time travel is wonderful. I haven't seen "The World fo Henry Orient," but will keep an eye out for it now.
I hope you happen across it. I would love your take. I was about the same age (as the kids in the movie)/when we lived in Manhasset. Taking the LIRR to town and terrorizing the east side were always fun.
 
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