‘Sabrina’ (1954) is one of my favourite movies and I thought it high time that I watched “Breakfast at Tiffany’s” – well, shame on me for getting to 48 years old and only watching it last night for the first time. Better late than never.
I’ll cut to the chase, yes, George Peppard is terrific but the star is Audrey Hepburn. What can I say that hasn’t been said a thousand times before? Nothing so forgive the repetition! Everything about her, how she looks, her face, her delicate features, her figure, her dainty walk, her voice, how she talks (“Did I tell you how divinely and utterly happy I am?” which she annunciates as if her tongue is ballet dancing) and, of course, her clothes (wardrobe supervision by the legend, Edith Head).
Funnily enough, when I was watching the movie, Marilyn Monroe came to mind, Lorelei Lee in ‘Gentlemen Prefer Blondes’, and I read afterwards (thanks, Wikipedia!) that Truman Capote wanted Marilyn to play Hollie but Paramount wanted Hepburn. Apparently, Lee Strasberg advised Monroe to turn it down as playing a prostitute, he said, would be bad for her image (she did turn it down and performed in ‘The Misfits’ instead). There’s no doubt that Marilyn Monroe could have taken on the role but it would have been a different film (obviously), lighter, less ‘rom’, more ‘com’. Audrey Hepburn steals every scene she’s in (well, Mickey Rooney is hilarious as I.Y.Yunioshi).
(beware, spoilers ahead…)
George Peppard, though, is wonderful as Paul Varjak (or ‘Fred’). So stylish and so in love with Holly, just as she is with him. The love is obvious and clear and it is also obvious and clear that she is trying to run away from herself. If she stays and marries Paul, a man who has little money so can’t insulate her from the world and herself, she will have to face herself. In a great scene at the end of the movie, Holly and Paul, face to face, the rain lashing down, the two of them drenched but oblivious to the weather and everything around them, love in the air, she isn’t just embracing him but she is accepting herself. Of course, the movie is a ‘rom-com’ but that is a heavy, emotional scene. In the taxi, when Paul is telling Holly how much he loves her, he says to her, “…no matter where you run, you just end up running into yourself”
I said that Audrey is the star of the movie but I think it’s fair to say that she shares top billing with Henry Mancini and Johnny Mercer – they picked up the ‘Best Original Song’ Oscar for ‘Moon River’ – Sinatra’s is THE version for me but Andy William’s version runs it a close second – there’s a beautiful scene in which Mollie is singing it on the fire escape outside her apartment and Paul sits staring at her – and Mancini also won the ‘Best Score of a Dramatic or Comedy Picture’ Oscar. I guess (but, of course, I might be wrong, that that marked the beginning of a partnership between Director, Blake Edwards, and Henry Mancini which led to The Pink Panther).
I enjoyed the movie, I loved it, but I much prefer ‘Sabrina’. In that movie, William Holden provides the comedy, Bogey is the straight man and Audrey Hepburn is the beautiful, exquisite ‘love interest’, Sabrina Fairchild. For me, everything about ‘Sabrina’ is perfect and Audrey Hepburn is angelic, she’s not lost in comedy, she’s just, well, she just Audrey Hepburn and it doesn’t get much better than that! It’s a masterpiece and I can’t say that about “Breakfast at Tiffany’s”.