I do not like the movie of BREAKFAST AT TIFFANY’S.
I think it’s terribly ironic that the image of Audrey Hepburn as Holly Golightly in the movie adaptation of Breakfast At Tiffany’s is so worshiped to the extent that it has. Its become so iconic in the public’s consciousness as being synonymous with Audrey that it’s almost a religious symbol for people today who are interested in “vintage” things and is seen as something very refined and tasteful. Put on your Wayfarers and pearls and pray to your Saint Audrey icon/Holly Golightly poster on your wall and hope that everyday you will look flawless and so classy!
To her credit, she is well dressed, she’s fascinating to look at. She had a great taste and a great stylist, most of which can all be attributed to her lasting relationship and patronage of fashion house Givenchey. Get yourself a symbiotic relationship with a fashion house in the same manner and you too will always look good!
By all means use Audrey as a model of impeccable grooming, style and poise and as a humanitarian (none of that “I believe in pink” crap) and an advocate for children, but, just realize you shouldn’t idolize HOLLY GOLIGHTLY at all.
Now it’s Audrey’s Holly Golightly, not the novella Holly Golightly but she’s still…Holly Golightly. You are not supposed to really like her and she is not a good role model for girls. I just wish it was more known that you’re really not supposed to like the character as much as people do. At least that’s how I see it.
Her character in Capote’s original novella is a callgirl. Capote phrased it in an interview of her being more of an “American Geisha”, a classy escort who takes indulgences from her clients in exchange for her presence at events and parties, but she just also might take her client home as well, or she might not. She’s a complex character that Capote originally wanted Marylin Monroe to play in the movie, and also wanted Paul Newman as, well Paul. Audrey Hepburn was miscast as Holly and George Peppard is a TERRIBLE actor. And don’t make me start about Mickey Rooney in yellowface!
Capote was disappointed in the film and that they did not go with his original casting preferences. In regards to Marylin (another Hollywood icon who is severely misunderstood and is cult-like worshiped all for the wrong reasons) playing Holly; it could have worked. The extremely naive ex-country girl gone New York swinger glamorous would have been almost semi-biographical for Marylin as it mirrors her own story from rags to riches and breaking off an early marriage in a similar manner. Apparently, well rumor has it Paula Strasberg nipped the idea of Marylin’s casting when they offered the role to her, saying she didn’t play “women of the night”. The rest is history.
But really, Holly is a callgirl. Arm candy. The movie skips around it as much as it could, sanitizing it, even poking fun with it with the “Is she or isn’t she” joke, but, really it’s there. The thing is, even though she’s making choices for herself, something about it is off, and I personally do not like her. I mean she’s admirable for staking out on her own and being her own women and choosing who she has sex with but something is still off - the flighty way she wanted to get away from her client in the beginning of the film, who she obviously didn’t want to sleep with, that to me doesn’t look like someone who is very self assured or able to handle herself and tell the guy to fuck off. I don’t find how good of a role model the character is when she seems so flighty to her own supposed profession and general wishy-washiness about everything. She won’t even name her cat. (Pretentious much?).
There’s really nothing new or innovative here, gold-diggers and people who manipulate for financial gain are a trope and a fact of life, anybody will try to get the best deal out of things, and while it’s smart on her part to know how to manipulate people using herself to get what she wants; indulgences, it’s not very admirable because of how she goes about it: without an ounce of confidence. She’s no Selina Kyle (the anti-hero or anti-villainess Catwoman of DC Comics) who manipulates and outright steals what she wants when she wants it, or even the naive but diamond-loving Lorelai in Gentleman Prefer Blondes. Both examples of these ladies revel in their acquisition of nice things and the lifestyle that money provides. Holly, apparently does not.
I’m not sure how a role model she can be if she’s dependent on others for her living but doesn’t really accept what she is and what she does or even try any other way. It would have been nice if movie Holly could actually admit she was such a callgirl, be obvious and blunt and unashamed about herself and treat it matter-of-fact like Shirley Maclaine in Irma La Douche and attempt to make the best of her situation by furnishing her apartment with the luxuries she obviously desires. The denial she has is infuriating because she is attempting this disastrous cafe society type of life of floating around not really living at all but puts on the facade that she in fact, does. She’s this amoeba blob of depression and avoidance. She shows no inclination of getting a real job (or jobs) or put her apparent musical skills and singing talents to good use. If she was a “Swing Shift Cinderella” with a dual set (or sets) of odd jobs; waitress or maid or secretary or even a club singer during the day (or maybe like Selina Kyle; an extremely successful and sly cat burglar!) and then POOF becomes a classy society lady and escort by night and because of her combined efforts and tact was self sufficient and financially independant; she would have been likable, but she’s not. She can hardly take care of herself or bother to furnish her apartment. Naively trafficking information for the mob thinking she’s only telling the weather? Come on. Holly Golightly doesn’t try. She just pretends to. She takes no pride in her apartment and yet goes out walking in diamonds and pearls. She’s a wreck and all facade.
Compare her self preservation skills again to another heroine, Scarlet O’Hara in Gone With The Wind who certainly used men to her advantage, but is pretty obvious in her schemes and had the nerve to dance with Rhett Butler while still in mourning garb for a recently deceased husband (who for the viewer is clear she didn’t even care for). She’s determined and conniving and doesn’t care what other people think. Holly seems to care about what everyone thinks. There’s nothing wrong in wanting to marry rich or retain a certain type of lifestyle; it’s how you execute it that can make you likable or unlikable (not saying what Scarlet does is morally acceptable or something to emulate either, she’s just more likable due to her drive and nerve). Holly is in comparison; vacant, sad, and aloof and doesn’t even to seem to enjoy herself much other than trying to impress people when talking about various topics or throwing parties.
In some ways I think her character is good for women in the history of film, but they went about it the wrong way, they glamored Holly Golightly up when in reality and in the novella, she’s not glamorous at all, she’s a broken individual. She’s this twisting amphisbaena of dependence and avoidance of taking actual responsibility for oneself. Sure in the film she chooses to be with Paul, her wannabee writer/occasional gigolo love interest who she threatens and treats poorly but nevertheless chooses him and “poverty” over decadence (running away with the rich man to another country) by doing so. That’s a very “Hollywood” rose-tinted tacked on ending. The character of Paul didn’t even exist in the novella. The narrator ‘Fred’ or at least that’s what she called him, who is her closest confidant in the novella that they somewhat turned into Paul, was a gay man! And she sure as hell didn’t sleep with that. Though, it is sort of sweet the gigolo and the callgirl end up together in the film, but still…not enough to redeem the film nor justify Holly Golightly as a good role model.
Seriously, love the actress, love the fashion if you want, the music, but I’m not sure Holly Golightly the character is worth the accolades and neither is the movie adaptation.