Audrey Hepburn is Holly Golightly, a young woman to her name born. Flighty, hopping from party to party, she waits for her life to match her ideal. Into her apartment moves writer George Peppard, who is certainly not the millionaire our heroine imagines will sweep her off her feet. Peppard himself is a kept man, and his keeper is Patricia Neal. Peppard does have a more realistic view of how life works, in the long run, and that is a lesson that Hepburn must learn before romance can follow it… natural course.
Hepburn, in one of her signature roles, cuts a very elegant figure as Holly. The character has been toned down considerably from the call girl of Truman Capote’s novella, though there are still some suggestions as to what she gets paid for (though it is also implied that she never delivers). Patricia Neal is, for my money, the real standout, gleefully throwing herself into a performance that has her oozing a creepy, predatory sexuality. The most dated (even in 1961) aspect is Mickey Rooney’s cringe-inducing turn as Hepburn’s Japanese neighbour. His portrayal is a racist stereotype so egregious it makes Fu Manchu look like a progressive role model, and is a instance that shows just how badly wrong director Blake Edwards’ comedy instincts could go.
Other than the extras, the main advantage this disc has over the earlier edition is that the sound has been upgraded to 5.1. Not that this really means a heck of a lot. This was a mono film to start with (and the original track is also here), and so there are limits to what can be done. What is good is what isn’t done: the surround elements are not indiscriminate. Primarily, the 5.1 is at the service of Henry Mancini’s score, and this, I must admit, sounds very nice indeed. It is very enveloping, and has a fine bass sound. The rest of the film operates at a rather low volume.
While admitting that I haven’t seen the previous DVD release of this film, I doubt that this picture marks a real improvement of any kind, so I wouldn’t use it as a reason to pick up the disc. The movie does look good. The print is in excellent shape, the colours are nice, and so are the flesh tones. The blacks are very strong, and the grain, though present, is decidedly minor. The movie’s original aspect ratio is 1.85:1, but I tend to a be a bit suspicious of Paramount when they don’t specify the precise format, so I’m thinking 1.78:1.
Producer Richard Shepherd’s commentary does have a tendency to point out the obvious, and there are some noticeable silences, but Shepherd also has plenty of good background information to convey, and does address some issues such as his own discomfort with Rooney’s character. The “Making of a Classic” featurette is a good example of its kind, and does address such things as the toning down of Holly Golightly. At 16 minutes, this is longer than the rest of the featurettes combined. These consist of “It’s So Audrey: A Style Icon” (where fashion designers weigh in on why her look was so successful), “Brilliance in a Blue Box” (a history of the Tiffany company) and “Audrey’s Letter to Tiffany” (read by John Loring, design director of Tiffany). There is also the theatrical trailer and some previews of other releases. The menu’s main screen and intro are animated and scored.
This is not Edwards’ best film (that honour should go to Days of Wine and Roses, with a special mention to Experiment in Terror), but it is a defining romantic comedy.
Special Features List
- Audio Commentary
- Making-of Featurette
- Theatrical Trailer