‘Breakfast at Tiffany’s’ (1961)

Dbreakfast at Tiffany's (1961) Has anyone ever appraised this films as anything but a sunny Audrey Hepburn vehicle? It’s one hour and 55 minutes of dissonance. Audrey Hepburn and George Peppard play two characters who are, by all appearances middle class yuppies living in Manhattan during the early ’60s. But this would be a mistake.

In the eponymous Truman Capote novella it is clear that Holly is a high-end call girl and Paul a gigolo. Blake Edwards’ film supresses the gauche details by making Peppard and Hepburn squeaky clean.

The juxtaposition between who these two characters appear to be and how they earn their money percolates in and out of focus as the story proceeds: Holly has gentlemen callers who surreptitiously pass her cash gifts outside of restrooms. A couple of days each month, she goes out to Sing-Sing to deliver messages to Sal Tomato, the mob boss, who still needs to communicate with his soldiers. Paul’s rent is paid by 2-E (Patricia Neal), his ‘decorator’. Paul is a writer, but it’s not uncommon for 2-E to pay a visit or send her friends over to visit Paul any time of day. It’s squick as hell, but somehow Hepburn and Peppard keep the whole thing sailing along like a generic romantic comedy.

Under other circumstances, this story of New York denizens would be executed by a Gloria -era John Cassavetes, a Taxi Driver -era Martin Scorcese or a Requiem for a Dream -era Aranofsky. Somehow, this sex-worker extravaganza has remained a genial G-rated feature for Turner Classic Movies all these years, despite the implicit subversion.

Todd Haynes should consider remaking it.

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