Breakfast at Tiffany’s

A movie that is practically synonymous with Audrey Hepburn, Breakfast at Tiffanys  provides beautiful images for your eyes to feast on- sparkling stones in shop-windows try to match Hepburn’s own giant, marble-sized, thickly-lashed green eyes (the stones have a disadvantage-they can’t match the expression in her eyes). Lovely early-morning city-streets, stone stairs and tall buildings form the background for her frame (that looks as if it were carved in one movement out of a monolith) and the beautiful, pronounced angles of her face. Doesn’t Audrey Hepburn look just like marble statuary brought to life?

The movie unfortunately has to depend on the idea of the emotionally uncontrolled eternal woman-child who can add two and two, but larger numbers confuse her. Isn’t that adorable? Also Audrey relies on that breathy-voiced style of acting in the old movies that I’ve never managed to find very credible, although women who made it their own voice were very charming and very impressive. Life seems to be lived on a higher register for such a character than for everyone else. You’re a heroine with a capital “H”. Imagine doing that sort of thing in more plain-spoken times! What we have is the cast of Girls and Lena Dunham! I do remember reading something about how …people thought that if you could suffer like Ingrid Bergman did in Gaslight then it was okay, to be unhappy in a romantic, high-toned way was the thing.

This a movie which won’t be too exasperating in its portrayal of Holly Golightly’s feyness, because she was ‘married’ at 14 to a middle-aged man, whom people keep calling her husband, until she says with the air of one who understands her responsibilities, that the ‘marriage’ was annulled. When a character is caught in such a cat’s cradle of societal norms and expectations, you really can’t quibble over how most women would realise that taking money from a famous drug-dealer may eventually end your dubious marriage prospects to a pompous Brazilian politician. Obviously, these are the sober thoughts of a more fortunately circumstanced person. Why are female protagonists always like that, though? The Shopaholic girl in the books is just as moronic, and we have to accept her mental vacuum as being representative of- get ready for it- niceness. All the nice people I ever met were also more than nominally intelligent. Just saying.

Speaking of her fey, precious, eccentricity:

oh cat BaT

How did they get the cat to refrain from biting her after she chucked him out in the rain? He’d only just found a dry box before she snatched him up and began squashing him like that. Maybe it was a double?

BaT Cat

According to someone on the internet:

“Orangey the Cat is the only cat in history that has won the Patsy Award twice. For those who do not know, the Patsy award is the animal kingdom’s equal of an Oscar. The Patsy Award is awarded by the American Humane Association”

Just talent then.

Mickey Rooney’s racist portrayal of the Japanese neighbor has been making people uncomfortable enough for a while now, so I won’t dwell on it. It was the reason I went rather off this movie for a while, before memories of Audrey’s eyes, and the actors’ expert modulations, and the Moonriver soundtrack reeled me back in. Patricia Neal was just wonderful as the wealthy woman who ‘kept’ Paul Varjak (played by a delightful looking George Peppard).  My favourite Audrey moment has always been the “How do I look?” scene, after fastening on one earring, large marble-like eyes framed by a enormous black hat. It’s as ineradicable from my mind as a song stuck in my head.

how do I look
Like you re-invented meaning.  That’s why you’re iconic.



Pride and Prejudice (2005)

Watching the Kiera Knightley version of Pride and Prejudice is a bit like watching the Twilight version of Jane Austen. If you’ve ever wondered how bad it was possible to make a movie I recommend watching 1) Twilight movies 2) The Harry Potter movies 3) The 2005 Pride and Prejudice.

This movie has apparently been directed by one Joe Wright, a man who was either very optimistic or very opportunistic. An hour and 10 minutes now into this movie and I think perhaps he was both. When I had first watched this ridiculous movie I really did appreciate the interesting take on the Bennets’ home. It was more wealthy farm house than country house. But both then and now what I couldn’t stand was the dullness of the casting and the direction and the incredible wrongness of everything. How am I an expert on early 19th century mannerisms in Britain? Good question, but at least I read the book. Many, many times over the past (jeez) 20 years. I think Joe Wright could have at least looked through it himself, and then if he was going to get the dialogue changed because the original did not sparkle enough, he could have got some kind of language and protocol expert to tell him what could be said by whom and how. I really don’t think that the first thing Elizabeth Bennet would have said to Mr.Darcy during a formal introductory visit would have been, “What are you doing here?”. Like she ran in to him at the mall.

Anachronistic conversations aside you also have to endure Elizabeth Bennet running hither and thither all over the landscape, occasionally through the rain, when to add to the excitement Mr. Darcy follows her and proposes to her before we (or she) have had time to recover from her whispered conversation in church. In the book she was playful but never undignified, and whispering in church was probably right up there with talking about boys when the waiter was still serving you at the inn in the year 1813. Colonel Fitzwilliam had just her told it was indeed Mr.Darcy who drove away Jane’s lover. Elizabeth is horrified and runs out into the rain. We don’t know what prompted Darcy to follow her, maybe he was just …out for a walk and his feelings overcame him. Very unlike book Darcy who knows there is a time and a place for everything. He proposed in a living room, set aside time to do it, and was rejected, eventually got over it, and it is true he did propose on a walk the second time, but the weather was clement.

Sigh. The BBC series with Colin Firth and Jennifer Ehle is available on Youtube. You can watch it anytime. You can even buy it and expunge the memory of all the untidy hairstyles (limp bangs abound), lack of punchy dialogue,wide open startled eyes (cliche) and the absence of Colin Firth.

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