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Breakfast at Tiffany's is a 1961 American film directed by and written by , loosely based on 's . Starring and , and featuring , , , and , the film was initially released on October 5, 1961 by .

Hepburn's portrayal of Holly Golightly as the naïve, eccentric socialite is generally considered to be the actress's most memorable and identifiable role. Hepburn regarded it as one of her most challenging roles, since she was an required to play an .

Breakfast at Tiffany's was received positively at the time, and won two : and for "", which was also selected as the by the in 2004. The film was also nominated for three other Academy Awards: for Hepburn, , and .

In 2012, the film was deemed "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant" by the United States and selected for preservation in the .


Early one morning, a taxi pulls up at on in , from which elegantly dressed Holly Golightly emerges carrying a paper bag with her breakfast. After looking into the shop's windows while eating her bun and sipping her coffee, she strolls home. Outside her apartment, she fends off Sid Arbuck, her date from the disastrous night before. Inside the apartment building, Holly can't find her keys so she buzzes her landlord, , who begrudgingly lets her in. Later, she is awakened by new neighbor Paul Varjak, who rings her doorbell to get into the building. The pair chat as she dresses to leave for her weekly visit to Sally Tomato, a mobster incarcerated at prison. Tomato's lawyer pays her 0 a week (a rent-covering annual “wage” of ,600 today) to deliver "the weather report".

As she is leaving for Sing Sing, Holly is introduced to Paul's "decorator", wealthy older woman Emily Eustace Failenson, whom Paul nicknames "2E" (pronounced "Tooley"). That night, Holly goes out onto the fire escape to elude an over-eager date. She peeks into Paul's apartment and sees 2E leaving money and kissing Paul goodbye. After Tooley leaves, Holly enters Paul's apartment and learns he is a writer who has not had anything published since a book of vignettes five years before. Holly, in turn, explains she is trying to save money to support her brother Fred. The pair fall asleep, but are awakened when Holly has a nightmare about Fred. When Paul questions her about this, Holly chides him for prying and leaves. She later buys Paul a to apologize and invites him to a lively party at her apartment. There, Paul meets her Hollywood agent, O. J. Berman, who describes Holly's transformation from country girl into Manhattan socialite. He is also introduced to José da Silva Pereira, a wealthy Brazilian politician, and Rusty Trawler, the "ninth richest man in America under 50".

In the days that follow, Paul and Holly become closer. The next day, Tooley enters Paul's apartment, worried she is being followed. Paul tells her he will investigate and eventually confronts Doc Golightly, Holly's estranged husband. Doc explains Holly's real name is Lula Mae Barnes and that they were married when she was 14. He wants to take her back to rural Texas, as her brother Fred will be returning in a few months after Army service. After Paul reunites Holly and Doc, she tells Paul the marriage was annulled. At the Greyhound bus station, she tells Doc she will not return to Texas with him and Doc leaves town broken-hearted.

After drinking at a club, Paul and Holly return to her apartment, where she drunkenly tells him she plans to marry Trawler for his money. A few days later, Paul learns one of his short stories will be published. On the way to tell Holly, he sees a newspaper headline stating Trawler has married someone else. Holly and Paul agree to spend the day together, taking turns doing things each has never done before, including visiting the library. At Tiffany's, Paul has the ring from Doc Golightly's box of engraved as a present for Holly. After spending the night together, he awakens to find her gone. When Tooley arrives, Paul ends their relationship. She calmly accepts, having earlier concluded he and some other woman are in love.

Holly schemes to marry José for his money, which angers Paul. After Holly receives a telegram notifying her of Fred's death, she trashes her apartment. Months later, Paul has moved out. He is invited to dinner by Holly, who is leaving the next morning for Brazil to continue her relationship with José. However, they are arrested in connection with Sally Tomato's drug ring, and Holly spends the night in jail.

The next morning, Holly is released on bail and finds Paul waiting, and they take a cab. He has her cat and a letter from José explaining he must end their relationship due to her arrest. Holly insists she will go to Brazil anyway, asks the cab to pull over, and releases the cat into the rain. Paul confronts Holly about his love and her behavior, then gets out of the cab in the pouring rain and leaves, tossing the engraved Cracker Jack ring into her lap and telling her to examine her life. She goes through a decision making moment, puts on the ring, and runs after Paul, who has gone looking for the cat. She searches the alley and finally finds the cat. Paul and Holly stand in the rain, and with the cat tucked into Holly's coat, look into each other's eyes and share a kiss.

  • as Holly Golightly - New York "City" girl - Socialite
  • as Paul Varjak (nicknamed "Fred" by Holly, for his resemblance to her brother) - Writer - New neighbor and kept man of "2E"
  • as Mrs. Emily Eustace "Tooley" Failenson - Rich decorator
  • as Doc Golightly - Holly's former husband from Texas
  • as O.J. Berman - Agent
  • as - Angry upstairs neighbor and Landlord
  • as Sally Tomato - Mobster in Sing Sing
  • as José da Silva Pereira (credited as Vilallonga) - Holly's Brazilian rich mark
  • as Rutherford "Rusty" Trawler - Another failed husband mark
  • as Tiffany's salesman
  • Dorothy Whitney as Mag Wildwood
  • Claude Stroud as Sid Arbuck - First Holly suitor
  • as Holly's over eager date
  • as Cat (trained by )
  • Beverly Powers as the stripper (credited as Miss Beverly Hills)
  • as the librarian



The Oscar-nominated screenplay was written by , loosely based on the novella by . Changes were made to fit the medium of cinema and to correspond to the filmmakers' vision. Capote, who sold the film rights of his novella to Paramount Studios, wanted to play Holly Golightly, whom he had described perfectly in the book. Barry Paris cites Capote's own comments on the choice of actress: "Marilyn was always my first choice to play the girl, Holly Golightly." Screenwriter Axelrod was hired to "tailor the screenplay for Monroe". When advised Monroe that playing a "lady of the evening" would be bad for her image, she turned it down and performed in instead. When Hepburn was cast instead of Monroe, Capote remarked: "Paramount double-crossed me in every way and cast Audrey". was also offered the part of Holly, but she turned it down and performed in instead.

Originally producers Martin Jurow and had picked as the director, but Hepburn said: "I've never heard of him" and he was replaced on her request.

Principal photography[]

Hepburn in the opening scene.

Most of the exteriors were filmed in , except the fire escape scenes and the alley scene at the end in the rain where Holly puts Cat out of the cab and then Paul and Holly look for Cat. All of the interiors, except for portions of the scene inside Tiffany & Company, were filmed on the in Hollywood.[]

According to one report the film's on-location opening sequence, in which Holly gazes into a , was extremely difficult for director to shoot. Although it was simple in concept, crowd control, Hepburn's dislike of pastries, and an accident that nearly resulted in the of a crew member are all said to have made capturing the scene a challenge. However, another report claims that the sequence was captured rather quickly due to the good fortune of an unexpected traffic lull.


“ It took me a long time to figure out what Holly Golightly was all about. One night after midnight I was still trying. I don't drink much, but I was sipping. And it came to me. I wrote [""] in half an hour. ” — Henry Mancini

During the film, Hepburn sang the film's signature song, "Moon River" by and . The song was tailored to Hepburn's limited vocal range, based on songs she had performed in 1957's . On the Anniversary Edition DVD of Breakfast at Tiffany's co-producer says in his that after a preview in San Francisco, Martin Rankin, Paramount's head of production, wanted "Moon River" replaced with music by somebody like (whose album had been out fairly recently): "Marty [Jurow, co-producer] and I both said 'over our dead bodies.'" According to Mancini and Edwards, a studio executive hated the song and demanded it be cut from the film; Hepburn, who was present, responded to the suggestion by standing up and saying, "Over my dead body!"

According to Time magazine, Mancini "sets off his melodies with a walking bass, extends them with choral and string variations, varies them with the brisk sounds of . 'Moon River' is sobbed by a plaintive harmonica, repeated by strings, hummed and then sung by the chorus, finally resolved with the harmonica again."


Critical response[]

magazine noted "for the first half hour or so, Hollywood's Holly (Audrey Hepburn) is not much different from Capote's. She has kicked the weed and lost the illegitimate child she was having, but she is still jolly Holly, the child bride from Tulip, Texas, who at 15 runs away to Hollywood to find some of the finer things of life—like shoes." It pointed out that "after that out-of-Capote beginning, Director Blake Edwards () goes on to an out-of-character end." Almost a half century later, Time commented on the pivotal impact of Hepburn's portrayal of Golightly:

Breakfast at Tiffany's set Hepburn on her 60s Hollywood course. Holly Golightly, small-town Southern girl turned Manhattan trickster, was the naughty American cousin of , Cockney flower girl turned . Holly was also the prototype for the Hepburn women in , , and : kooks in . And she prepared audiences for the ground-level anxieties that Hepburn characters endured in , and .

called the film a "completely unbelievable but wholly captivating flight into fancy composed of unequal dollops of comedy, romance, poignancy, funny colloquialisms and Manhattan's swankiest areas captured in the loveliest of colors". In reviewing the performances, the newspaper said Holly Golightly is

as implausible as ever. But in the person of Miss Hepburn, she is a genuinely charming, elfin waif who will be believed and adored when seen. George Peppard is casual and, for the most part, a subdued citizen who seems to like observing better than participating in the proceedings. Martin Balsam makes a properly brash, snappy Hollywood agent. Mickey Rooney's bucktoothed, myopic Japanese is broadly exotic. Patricia Neal is simply cool and brisk in her few appearances as Mr. Peppard's sponsor and Vilallonga, is properly suave and Continental as Miss Hepburn's Brazilian, while Buddy Ebsen has a brief poignant moment as Miss Hepburn's husband.

Truman Capote hated Hepburn in the lead part. Capote biographer deemed the film a "valentine" to free-spirited women rather than a cautionary tale about a little girl lost in the big city. "The movie is a confection — a sugar and spice confection."

Review aggregation website retrospectively collected reviews from 50 critics and gives the film a rating of 88%, with an average rating of 7.4/10. The site's consensus states: "It contains some ugly anachronisms, but Blake Edwards is at his funniest in this iconic classic, and Audrey Hepburn absolutely lights up the screen."


Hepburn as Holly, with her hair in a high and carrying an oversized , is considered one of the most iconic images of 20th century . Another iconic item throughout the movie is Holly's sunglasses. Often misidentified as , they are Manhattan sunglasses designed and manufactured in London by . In 2011 the model was re-released to mark the 50th anniversary of Breakfast at Tiffany's. One of three dresses designed by for Hepburn for possible use in the film sold at auction by Christie's on December 5, 2006 for £467,200 (US7,000), about seven times the reserve price. The , worn by Hepburn in the beginning of the film, is cited as one of the most iconic items of clothing in the history of the twentieth century and is, perhaps, the most famous of all time. A second "little black dress" in Breakfast at Tiffany's, along with its wide-brimmed hat, was worn by Hepburn as Holly when she goes to visit mobster Sally Tomato at Sing Sing Prison. This dress was paid homage as one of the dresses worn by Anne Hathaway's character Selina Kyle, 's alter ego, in 's ; the comic book Catwoman character was originally drawn based on Hepburn, according to Catwoman comic cover artist Adam Hughes, creating a double homage to Hepburn's Holly Golightly in Hathaway's Catwoman.

The film rejuvenated the career of 1930s movie song-and-dance man and Davy Crockett sidekick Buddy Ebsen, who had a small but effective role in this film as Doc Golightly, Holly's ex-husband. His success here led directly to his best-known role as Jed Clampett on .

A diamond necklace at Tiffany's that Hepburn scorned as too flashy, was the , which she wore in publicity photos for the film. Tiffany's profile, while already established as a pre-eminent luxury retailer, was further boosted by the film.

Portrayal of Mr. Yunioshi and yellowface controversy[]

I. Y. Yuniyoshi naked in bath

Main article:

For his portrayal of I. Y. Yunioshi, wore makeup and a prosthetic mouthpiece to change his features to a caricatured approximation of a Japanese person. Since the 1990s, this portrayal has been subject to increasing protest by , among others. For instance, in the film (1993), Breakfast at Tiffany's is used as an illustration of Hollywood's depiction of Asian people when and his future wife, Linda, see the film and Linda suggests they leave when she notices that Bruce is upset at Rooney's caricatured performance.

In his audio commentary for the DVD release, producer Richard Shepherd said that at the time of production as well as in retrospect, he wanted to recast the role "not because he [Rooney] didn't play the part well" but because Shepherd thought the part of Mr. Yunioshi should be performed by an actor of ; it was director Blake Edwards' decision to keep Rooney. In a "" for the 45th anniversary edition DVD release, Shepherd repeatedly apologizes, saying, "If we could just change Mickey Rooney, I'd be thrilled with the movie." Director Blake Edwards stated, "Looking back, I wish I had never done it... and I would give anything to be able to recast it, but it's there, and onward and upward."

In a 2008 interview about the film, 87-year-old Rooney said he was heartbroken about the criticism:

Blake Edwards... wanted me to do it because he was a comedy director. They hired me to do this overboard, and we had fun doing it.... Never in all the more than 40 years after we made it – not one complaint. Every place I've gone in the world people say, "God, you were so funny." Asians and Chinese come up to me and say, "Mickey you were out of this world."

Rooney also said that if he had known the portrayal would be offensive, "I wouldn't have done it. Those that didn't like it, I forgive them and God bless America, God bless the universe, God bless Japanese, Chinese, Indians, all of them and let's have peace."

The film continues to draw criticism for this character now widely considered to be a racist caricature, particularly when the movie is selected as a "classic" screened in public spaces, supported by tax dollars. In 2011, a and Brooklyn Bridge Park Corporation screening inspired petitions.

Awards and honors[]

Academy Awards[]

Other awards[]


Main article:

The soundtrack featured a score composed and conducted by , with songs by Mancini and lyricist Johnny Mercer. Mancini and Mercer won the 1961 Oscar for for "Moon River". Mancini won for . There are also unreleased score pieces from Breakfast at Tiffany's in existence; "Carousel Cue" is from an unsurfaced scene, while "Outtake 1" is from a deleted scene in which Holly and Fred visit Tiffany's and is a variation of the main theme.

List of songs[]

  • ""
  • "Something for Cat"
  • "Sally's Tomato"
  • "Mr. Yunioshi"
  • "The Big Blow Out"
  • "Hub Caps and Tail Lights"
  • "Breakfast at Tiffany's"
  • "Latin Golightly"
  • "Holly"
  • "Loose Caboose"
  • "The Big Heist"
  • "Moon River [Cha Cha]"

In 2013 released the complete score in its original film performance (as with many soundtrack albums by Mancini and others at the time, the album released alongside the film was a re-recording).

  1. Main Title (Moon River) (3:07)
  2. Paul Meets Cat (1:24)
  3. Sally’s Tomato (4:57)
  4. The Big Blowout (1:05)
  5. Poor Fred (3:22)
  6. Moon River (Cha Cha) (2:32)
  7. Latin Golightly (3:05)
  8. Something For Cat (4:48)
  9. Loose Caboose – Part 1 (À La Cha Cha) (3:22)
  10. Loose Caboose – Part 2 (2:11)
  11. Moon River (Vocal By Audrey Hepburn) (2:03)
  12. Meet The Doc (With Organ Grinder) (1:37)
  13. An Exceptional Person (2:57)
  14. You’re So Skinny (0:57)
  15. Turkey Eggs (2:43)
  16. Hub Caps And Tail Lights (2:19)
  17. Rats And Super Rats (2:27)
  18. The Hard Way (0:55)
  19. Rusty Trawler (0:26)
  20. Holly (1:56)
  21. A Lovely Place (1:33)
  22. Bermuda Nights (0:22)
  23. The Big Heist (4:02)
  24. After The Ball (1:14)
  25. Just Like Holly (1:41)
  26. Wait A Minute (0:44)
  27. Feathers (1:14)
  28. Let’s Eat (1:39)
  29. Where’s The Cat? And End Title (Moon River) (3:50)
  30. Moon River (Audrey Hepburn & Guitar) (1:38)
  31. Moon River (Piano And Guitar) (1:38)
  32. Moon River (Harmonica And Guitar) (1:36)
  33. Meet The Doc (Without Organ Grinder) (1:37)
  34. Piano Practice No. 1 (1:38)
  35. Piano Practice No. 2 (1:48)
  36. Piano Practice No. 3 (0:54)
  37. Moon River (New York Version) (2:01)
  38. Moon River (Whistling) (0:10)

Home media[]

Breakfast at Tiffany's was one of the first Hepburn films to be released to the market in the early 1980s,[] and is also widely available on DVD. On February 7, 2006, Paramount released a 45th anniversary special edition DVD set in North America with featurettes not included on the prior DVD release:

  • Audio Commentary – with producer
  • Breakfast at Tiffany's: The Making of a Classic – a making-of featurette with interviews by Edwards, Neal, the "laughing/crying" woman from the party, and Sean Ferrer, Hepburn's son.
  • It's So Audrey! A Style Icon – a short tribute to Hepburn.
  • Brilliance in a Blue Box – a brief history of Tiffany & Co.
  • Audrey's Letter to Tiffany – an accounting of Hepburn's letter to Tiffany & Co. on the occasion of the company's 150th anniversary in 1987.
  • Original Theatrical Trailer
  • Photo Gallery

On January 13, 2009, a remastered Centennial Collection version of the film was released. In addition to the special features on the 45th anniversary edition, this version includes:

  • A Golightly Gathering – Reuniting some of the past cast members from the party with interviews on their experiences filming that segment.
  • Henry Mancini: More Than Music – A featurette about Henry Mancini, "Moon River" and interviews with Mancini's wife and children.
  • Mr. Yunioshi: An Asian Perspective – Documentary discussing the reaction and Asian perspective of the character of Mr. Yunioshi, one of the most controversial characters in film.
  • Behind the Gates – A tour through Paramount Studios

In 2011 a newly remastered HD version of the film was released on Blu-ray with many of the features from the aforementioned DVDs. The of the film was done by . The digital pictures were frame by frame digitally restored at to remove dirt, tears, scratches and other artifacts. The film was restored to its original look for its 50th Anniversary.

Stage adaptations[]

In 1966, produced a musical of starring as Holly Golightly and as Paul. The troubled production closed after four previews.

In 2004, a new musical adaptation of the film made its world debut at in .

In May 2009, actress confirmed that she would star in a adaptation of the film. The show opened in September 2009 at the .

A new stage adaption made its debut in March 2013 at the Cort Theater in New York City. The role of Holly Golightly would be played by .

See also[]



  1. . . January 8, 2001. Retrieved August 1, 2016. 
  2. Spoto, Donald (2006). Enchantment: The Life of Audrey Hepburn. New York: . p. 204.  . 
  3. King, Susan. (December 19, 2012)
  4. Barry Paris (1996). Audrey Hepburn. Berkley Books. 
  5. Foerster, Jonathan (9 February 2011). . . Retrieved 27 June 2017. 
  6. Honan, Corinna (November 4, 2010). . . Retrieved March 12, 2018. 
  7. at, 5 Oct 2011
  8. Spoto, Donald. Enchantment: The Life of Audrey Hepburn. New York: Harmony Books, 2006. Page 204 – 205.  
  9. Shepherd, Richard. Breakfast at Tiffany's – Anniversary Edition/Centennial Edition (DVD). Paramount. Event occurs at 25:20. 
  10. Erwin, Ellen; Diamond, Jessica Z. (October 2006). The Audrey Hepburn Treasures. New York: . p. 107.  . 
  11. . . October 20, 1961. Retrieved 2010-10-03. 
  12. (January 20, 2007). . . Retrieved 2010-10-03. 
  13. Weiler, A.H. (October 6, 1961). . . Retrieved 2010-10-03. 
  14. . Associated Press. Retrieved 10 November 2014. 
  15. at
  16. Spoto, Donald. Enchantment: The Life of Audrey Hepburn. New York: Harmony Books, 2006. Page 203.  
  17. Moss, Rob (28 July 2011). . Eye Wear Glasses. Retrieved 19 April 2016. 
  18. . Christie's. 5 December 2006. Retrieved 19 April 2016. 
  19. . BBC NEWS. 2006-12-05. 
  20. . April 2007. Retrieved 16 May 2011. 
  21. . . 6 December 2006. 
  22. . . 17 May 2010. Retrieved 16 May 2011. 
  23. Steele, Valerie (9 November 2010). . Berg Publishers. p. 483.  . Retrieved 16 May 2011. 
  24. Miller, Jacqui. Fan Phenomena: Audrey Hepburn. Ed. Jacqui Miller. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2014. p. 26-27.  .
  25. on
  26. . October 1, 2014. 
  27. Shepherd, Richard. Breakfast at Tiffany's – Anniversary Edition/Centennial Edition (DVD). Paramount. Event occurs at 3:43. 
  28. ^ Breakfast at Tiffany's: The Making of a Classic
  29. ^ Magagnini, Stephen (September 28, 2008). . . . Archived from on December 5, 2008. Retrieved 2010-10-03. 
  30. . July 13, 2011 – via Huff Post. 
  31. . Retrieved 2009-05-16. 
  32. . September 10, 2014. 
  33. . The Muny. Archived from on May 28, 2008. Retrieved May 16, 2009. 
  34. . BBC News. 2009-05-15. Retrieved 2009-05-16. 
  35. . Retrieved 12 April 2013. 

Further reading[]

  • Breakfast at Tiffany's, by George Axelrod. Published by Paramount Home Entertainment (UK), 1960. (film script)
  • Breakfast at Tiffany's: A Short Novel and Three Stories, by Truman Capote. Published by Random House, 1958.
  • Wasson, Sam. Fifth Avenue, 5 A.M.: Audrey Hepburn, Breakfast at Tiffany's, and the Dawn of the Modern Woman.  . 

External links[]


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