The most famous scene in Breakfast at Tiffany’s is the opening one – the one from which the film (and the Truman Capote novella on which it was based) takes its title.
Holly Golightly emerges from a yellow cab, dressed in a floor-length black gown, elbow-high gloves, dark sunglasses and an extravagant pearl necklace, and nibbles her morning croissant and coffee while gazing into the windows of one of the most exclusive shops in Manhattan.
Even if you have never seen the film itself, you’ve probably seen this scene; it made the star, Audrey Hepburn, and New York synonymous, and Hepburn’s Holly Golightly has passed, happily, into cinematic folklore.
Director Blake Edwards’s hymn to New York high style and high living with its charming heroine, along with her cat (called “Cat”) and those wonderful Johnny Mercer Moon River lyrics, has hardly dated since its release.
Originally a creation of writer Truman Capote, Holly, as written for the screen by George Axelrod and portrayed by Hepburn, is quite enchanting, even though period censorship makes it rather unclear what she actually does for a living (she’s a . . . ahem . . . working girl).
Despite the presence of handsome George Peppard and Patricia Neal, this is Hepburn’s movie, her black dress and long cigarette holder ready again to start a fashion revolution.
Only Mickey Rooney’s phoney (and now politically incorrect) caricature of a Japanese gent as Holly’s exasperated neighbour seems out of kilter in what is otherwise a thoroughly entertaining and wonderfully escapist movie.
José-Luis De Villalonga