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PARAMOUNT

MOVIE INFO

Director:
Blake Edwards
Cast:
Audrey Hepburn, George Peppard, Patricia Neal, Buddy Ebsen, Martin Balsam, José Luis de Villalonga, John McGiver, Alan Reed, Dorothy Whitney
Writing Credits:
Truman Capote (novel), George Axelrod

Tagline:
Audrey Hepburn plays Holly Golightly, the craziest heroine who ever crept between the pages of a best-selling novel!

Synopsis:
Blake Edwards's adaptation of Truman Capote's classic novella is ideally cast with Audrey Hepburn in the role of Holly Golightly. The free-spirited gamine darts about New York, feted by wealthy men drawn to her megawatt charm and elegance, hoping that the party will never end. After "shopping" in front of Tiffany's window, she meets aspiring writer Paul Varjak (George Peppard), and they begin a platonic friendship. "Sponsored" by an older woman (Patricia Neal) whose interest in the young man is more than literary, he can identify with her experience better than most, taking it upon himself to protect her from the worst aspects of city life. But she seems to need little protection from such friends as incarcerated mob boss Sally Tomato (Alan Reed), who pays her to carry messages to Sing Sing. With her infectious joi de vivre, she helps Paul break through a paralyzing case of writer's block. But when the genial Doc Golightly (Buddy Ebsen) appears in New York in search of Holly, the sources of her gossamer lifestyle suddenly become clearer. Edwards's lighter-than-air romantic comedy, set in a fantasy New York, rides on the irresistible charm of Hepburn at her peak, as well as a memorable score by Henry Mancini.

Box Office:
Budget
$2.5 million.

MPAA:
Rated NR

DVD DETAILS
Presentation:
Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
Audio:
English DTS-HD MA 5.1
English Monaural
Spanish Monaural
French Monaural
Portuguese Monaural
Subtitles:
English
Spanish
French
Portuguese
Closed-captioned
Supplements Subtitles:
English
Spanish
French

Runtime: 114 min.
Price: $29.99
Release Date: 9/20/2011

Bonus:
• Audio Commentary with Producer Richard Shepherd
• “A Golightly Gathering” Featurette
• “Henry Mancini: More Than Music” Featurette
• “Mr. Yunioshi: An Asian Perspective” Featurette
• “Behind the Gates: The Tour” Featurette
• “The Making of a Classic” Documentary
• “It’s So Audrey: A Style Icon” Featurette
• “Brilliance in a Blue Box” Featurette
• “Audrey’s Letter to Tiffany” Featurette
• Trailer
• Galleries


PURCHASE @ AMAZON.COM

EQUIPMENT
Panasonic 50" TH-50PZ77U 1080p Plasma Monitor; Sony STR-DG1200 7.1 Channel Receiver; Panasonic DMP-BD60K Blu-Ray Player using HDMI outputs; Michael Green Revolution Cinema 6i Speakers (all five); Kenwood 1050SW 150-watt Subwoofer.

RELATED REVIEWS


Breakfast At Tiffany's [Blu-Ray] (1961)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (October 3, 2012)

Does it brand me as some sort of heathen if I indicate that Audrey Hepburn doesn’t dazzle me? Like Marilyn Monroe, I find Hepburn to be attractive and talented, but I’ve never quite understood her legendary status. Still, hope springs eternal, so I thought I’d give Hepburn a look in arguably her most famous role: Holly Golightly in 1961’s Breakfast at Tiffany’s.

Holly lives the life of a popular Manhattan socialite. When Paul Varjak (George Peppard) moves into the building, the pair become friends and develop a semi-romantic interest. Holly redubs Paul “Fred” because he reminds her of her brother, and we learn that he’s a writer with only one five-year-old book to his credit. “Fred” also lives at the beck and call of wealthy older woman Mrs. Failenson (Patricia Neal).

While Holly and “Fred” get to know each other, we learn complications. Holly’s past comes back to haunt her, and her interactions with “Fred” deepen. This leads to a number of conflicts and issues.

Earlier I mentioned that I don’t really understand the Audrey Hepburn cult. This shouldn’t indicate that I don’t think she does good work; I just always found her to be overrated. I must say that I think she’s badly miscast here, though.

Elsewhere on this disc, we hear that Marilyn Monroe was considered for the role of Holly. While I don’t quite get the Cult of Marilyn, I think she would have been much more appropriate for this part. I could easily see Marilyn as a flighty socialite who uses men for money. To put Hepburn in this role seems like a stretch to me, especially when we’re asked to buy the regal Audrey as a native Texan. The movie attempts to explain how she lost the accent, but it’s too much for me to swallow.

In Hepburn’s hands, she actually makes Holly a surprisingly unlikable character – at least at first. She warms up the part as the movie progresses, but initially she comes across as annoyingly self-involved and eccentric. Although Holly turns more engaging as the flick moves, I still found it tough to get past my initial impression. That distance led me to remain outside the story.

Some bizarre casting doesn’t help. Who in their right mind thought it was a good idea to have Mickey Rooney play an absurdly stereotypical Japanese character? Not only does this broad comic role feel like it comes from a different movie, but also it’s frightfully offensive.

Sure, Breakfast came out in a different era, but it seems tough to think that this strange choice was that much less objectionable back then. Oddly, in the audio commentary, producer Richard Shepherd states that he regrets they didn’t cast an Asian actor in the part. Dude, that’s not the problem. In fact, this grotesque stereotype might be even more offensive when played by an actual Asian. Whatever the case, it’s a horrible choice that does serious harm to the movie – it’s very tough to get past this character.

Director Blake Edwards never quite settles on a tone for the movie. Is it a romantic comedy, a personal drama or a nutty farce? Edwards intersperses elements of all three throughout the flick, but they never coalesce into a tight product. The film shifts gears abruptly and awkwardly.

Frankly, I can’t see why Breakfast at Tiffany’s ever turned into a classic. The movie offers strange casting choices, a thin story and an erratic tone. None of this makes it very involving or entertaining.


The Blu-ray Grades: Picture C+/ Audio B+/ Bonus B-

Breakfast at Tiffany’s appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 1.85:1 on this Blu-ray Disc. Though not a bad presentation, the film looked less positive than I’d expect.

Sharpness was the main issue, largely due to the apparent presence of some intrusive digital noise reduction. While I suspect the movie went with some soft focus to give the image a dreamy feel, I don’t think it should be this fuzzy. Instead, it appeared that DNR scrubbed away a lot of the detail and often left a hazy feel. This wasn’t absolute – some shots displayed very good definition – but the image often came across as murkier than it should.

I noticed no signs of jagged edges or shimmering, and only a bit of edge enhancement occurred. Print flaws weren’t a concern, as the movie appeared clean.

Colors seemed good. The movie featured clean, concise hues that demonstrated the appropriate pop. Blacks were dark and tight, while shadows seemed smooth and accurate. Really, the softness was the only significant issue here, but it became intrusive enough to stick the image with a “C+”.

Often I don’t care for remixed multichannel soundtracks, but I rather liked the DTS-HD MA 5.1 audio of Breakfast at Tiffany’s. The mix took the original mono – also on the disc – and opened it up nicely. Music dominated the track, as the score presented effective stereo imaging.

We also got decent expansion of environmental elements. These never played a strong role in the movie, but they added a little life. Some minor panning occurred and the audio meshed together well. The surrounds contributed modest reinforcement but didn’t have much to do. Given the scope of the film, though, this wasn’t a problem.

Audio sounded surprisingly good. Speech was a smidgen thin but usually seemed crisp and distinctive. No issues with intelligibility or edginess occurred. Music was smooth and rich. The score appeared lively throughout the film and showed nice range. Again, effects were a minor aspect of the track, but they appeared clean and concise. I liked the 5.1 remix of Breakfast and thought it acted as a good option.

How did the Blu-ray compare to the 2009 Centennial Collection DVD? The audio was pretty similar, as the lossless Blu-ray mix did little to improve on the DVD’s Dolby Digital track.

As for visuals, the Blu-ray was superior, but not by as much as I’d like. Colors appeared brighter and the image lacked the DVD’s print flaws, but sharpness didn’t improve – well, at least not consistently. Some sequences demonstrated obvious improvements in clarity, but the frequent fuzziness meant that the Blu-ray didn’t always top the DVD. The Blu-ray did beat the DVD, but not by as much as one would expect.

We get the same extras as the 2009 DVD. These start with an audio commentary from producer Richard Shepherd. He provides a running, screen-specific affair. Shepherd touches on casting and performances, the choice of director, sets and locations, costumes, changes from the book, the music, and a mix of general production notes.

At best, Shepherd offers a mediocre discussion. His comments provide minor insights but don’t dig into the film with any great depth or gusto. Dead air crops up frequently, and the whole thing moves at a laggardly pace. Shepherd sounds like a nice guy and he does reveal some decent details, but I think we’d be better off hearing from him in a short interview rather than a nearly two-hour commentary.

With that, we head to a few featurettes. A Golightly Gathering runs 20 minutes, 26 seconds and provides notes from The Art of the Cocktail Party author Leslie Brenner, author/film historian A. Ashley Hoff, casting director Marvin Paige, actor/choreographer Miriam Nelson, and actors Marian Collier, Joan Staley, Kip King, Joyce Meadows, and Sue Casey. The featurette shows a cocktail party in which the participants discuss… the movie’s cocktail party.

The show’s focus on extras makes it unusual. We get basic production notes about the scene, but these come from that particular viewpoint. It’s a bit light and fluffy, but it offers some decent insights.

We learn about the composer via Henry Mancini: More Than Music. In this 20-minute and 57-second program, we get comments from Mancini’s daughter , his widow Ginny, and his son Chris. They tell us about Mancini’s life and career. They provide reasonably good information; the show stays somewhat superficial, but it covers the highlights.

A controversial topic appears in the 17-minute and 30-second Mr. Yunioshi: An Asian Perspective. It features Media Action Network for Asian Americans founding president Guy Aoki, Media Action Network president Phil Lee, Media Action Network vice president Jeffrey Scott Mio, and actor Marilyn Tokuda. The show looks at views of Asians in American society over the years, with an emphasis on how they’re portrayed in movies. This obviously makes it broader than simply an examination of the Yunioshi character; though the piece touches on problems with that performance, it goes for a greater scope.

It proves pretty interesting. I worried that “Perspective” would do little more than act as an apology for the awful Yunioshi character, but it doesn’t. Correctly, the participants regard the portrayal as a product of its time, but they don’t simply excuse it. This turns into a thought-provoking chat.

We move to Behind the Gates: A Tour. During this four-minute and 33-second segment, Paramount page Heather Weingart takes us around the lot. We learn a little about the studio but the piece is too short to be terribly useful.

With that we head to the 16-minute, 13-second The Making of a Classic. We hear from Shepherd, director Blake Edwards, extras Fay McKenzie and Miriam Nelson, Audrey Hepburn’s companion Robert Wolders, Hepburn’s son Sean Ferrer, casting director Marvin Paige, and actor Patricia Neal. We learn about the movie’s progress from novella to movie, cast and characters, shooting the big party scene, Hepburn and “Moon River”, and the specifics of a few other sequences.

Despite the program’s title, it doesn’t act as a particularly strong overall glimpse at the production. A lot of the time it just talks about the greatness that was Audrey, and plenty of other gushy material appears. We get the usual dissent about the casting of Mickey Rooney, but otherwise this show is an appreciation of the film. That makes it gooey, but it does toss in a reasonable amount of information about the flick. Just expect a lot of sugar with that.

Next comes an eight-minute and 15-second featurette called It’s So Audrey: A Style Icon. This includes notes from Wolders, Shepherd, Ferrer, Audrey Style author Pamela Keogh, designer Cynthia Rowley and Elle Magazine beauty director Emily Dougherty. They discuss Hepburn’s on-screen style and her impact on fashion. Again, this means many remarks about her greatness and beauty. I’d prefer more substance about her image and less frothiness.

During the six-minute and three-second Brilliance in a Blue Box, we hear from Tiffany & Co. design director John Loring and jewelry historian Janet Zapata. They discuss the history of Tiffany’s and various aspects of the business. Part information, part commercial, this program only sporadically illuminates as the advertising side dominates. This is another missed opportunity, as it could have offered a more substantial examination of the company.

Finally, Audrey’s Letter to Tiffany runs two minutes, 29 seconds. Loring reads a preface Hepburn wrote for a book that commemorated the 150th anniversary of Tiffany’s. It’s moderately interesting at best.

In addition to the movie’s trailer, the disc concludes with some Galleries. These cover “Production” (29 photos), “The Movie” (26) and “Publicity” (22). None of these prove to be terribly interesting.

I knew Breakfast at Tiffany’s would be tough to take in its first five minutes when I saw Mickey Rooney as a terrible Japanese caricature. Things didn’t improve a lot from there during this too long, too awkward and too disjointed film. The Blu-ray offers fairly good audio and supplements but disappoints in terms of visuals, as excessive noise reduction makes the image fuzzy too much of the time. The Blu-ray still tops the old DVDs and becomes the best presentation of the film to date, but its flaws make it a disappointment.

To rate this film visit the Special Edition review of BREAKFAST AT TIFFANY'S

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Review Archive:  # | A-C | D-F | G-I | J-L | M-O | P-R | S-U | V-Z | Viewer Ratings | Main