Sunday, December 12, 2010

Fifth Avenue, 57th Street

I just finished Fifth Avenue, 5 A.M., Sam Wasson's splendidly-entertaining chronicle of the making of the movie Breakfast at Tiffany's.  (The book doesn't mention the Tailored Woman store, located on the opposite corner from Tiffany, but this article does.) 

I've watched Breakfast at Tiffany's too many times to count.  I don't agree with Wasson's assessment (and that, apparently, of the movie's producers and costars) that George Peppard was a weak link as the love interest of Audrey Hepburn's character, Holly Golightly.  He is slightly wooden, but for me it works for his character, a conflicted young would-be writer who believes himself to be an upstanding citizen even as an older woman (the splendid Patricia Neal) keeps him as her plaything.

The original Truman Capote tale involved an unrepentant golddigger and an unnamed narrator who befriends her.  In the cleaned-up (though still racy, for 1961) movie version Peppard's character gradually falls in love with Holly, leading to a romantic ending.  I re-read the novella this weekend and it left me with a case of the blues, or the mean reds, as Holly Golightly would say.  It's a tawdry story, though beautifully written.  In the book Holly never does have breakfast at Tiffany's.  That's why I'll always stay true to the movie version instead, with its sweeping opening shot of 5th Avenue at 5 AM.  Holly's true love affair is with New York itself, and this wonderful corner in particular.