Out of the elusive, but curiously intoxicating Truman Capote fiction, scenarist George Axelrod has developed a surprisingly moving film, touched up into a stunningly visual motion picture. Capote buffs may find some of Axelrod’s fanciful alterations a bit too precocious, pat and glossy for comfort, but enough of the original’s charm and vigor has been retained.
What makes Tiffany’s an appealing tale is its heroine, Holly Golightly, a charming, wild and amoral ‘free spirit’ with a latent romantic streak. Axelrod’s once-over-go-lightly erases the amorality and bloats the romanticism, but retains the essential spirit (‘a phony, but a real phony’) of the character, and, in the exciting person of Audrey Hepburn, she comes vividly to life on the screen.
Hepburn’s expressive, ‘top banana in the shock department’ portrayal is complemented by the reserved, capable work of George Peppard as the young writer whose love ultimately (in the film, not the book) enables the heroine to come to realistic terms with herself.
Excellent featured characterizations are contributed by Martin Balsam as a Hollywood agent, Buddy Ebsen as Hepburn’s deserted husband, and Patricia Neal as Peppard’s wealthy ‘sponsor’. Mickey Rooney as a much-harassed upstairs Japanese photographer adds an unnecessarily incongruous note to the proceedings.
The film is a sleek, artistic piece of craftsmanship, particularly notable for Franz F. Planer’s haunting photography and Henry Mancini’s memorably moody score. The latter’s ‘Moon River’, with lyrics by Johnny Mercer, is an enchanting tune.
1961: Best Song (‘Moon River’), Scoring of a Dramatic Picture.
Nominations: Best Actress (Audrey Hepburn), Adapted Screenplay, Color Art DIrection