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DVD Review: Breakfast at Tiffany’s – Paramount Centennial Collection

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It’s rather ironic that almost fifty years after its release, Breakfast at Tiffany’s remains Audrey Hepburn’s most iconic piece of cinema – her free-spirited Holly Golightly was intended for Marilyn Monroe by Truman Capote, and even Hepburn herself felt she had been miscast. It hardly matters now though, and it hardly seems possible that anyone but Hepburn could have played Golightly.

Breakfast at Tiffany’s may function as more of a pop culture artifact than a film, but there’s no questioning its cultural footing is due to Hepburn. She’s a joy to behold in the somewhat uneven and inconsistent film. When she gazes through the picture window at Tiffany’s while daintily consuming a pastry, it’s movie magic, and she keeps those moments coming – the raucous cocktail party, the impish thievery in the five and dime store, the desperate hunt for a cat in the rain.

Hepburn’s sweet naiveté is totally believable, and the budding relationship between her and George Peppard makes Tiffany’s a winning love story, even if I wish the ending would have gone in another direction.

Breakfast at Tiffany’s has seen many DVD releases over the years, with the most recent coming only three years ago to celebrate the film’s 45th anniversary. Paramount’s Centennial Collection edition seems rather unnecessary, but it’s not totally a blatant money-grab, with a number of classic Hepburn films being released in this series (Funny Face, Roman Holiday, Sabrina) along with other Paramount classics (Sunset Boulevard).

Also, Paramount is providing more than just a repackaging, with four new featurettes – three of them worthwhile – present on the second disc of special features.

“A Golightly Gathering” reunites a number of the extras and the bit part actors from the cocktail party scene in Holly’s apartment. Initially, the piece seems to be a waste of time, but as it progresses, the interesting anecdotes start to flow. Typically, you’d expect the best behind-the-scenes trivia to come from the film’s real stakeholders – the director, the leads and the primary crew – but the perspectives provided from those on the very fringe of the film experience are very worthwhile. This is a solid extra that shows some nice creativity from its creators.

“Henry Mancini: More Than Music” is an in-depth look at the film’s composer that focuses on much more than just his work on Breakfast at Tiffany’s. This featurette might be a little long for the casual viewer, but anyone interested in Mancini or film scoring in general will be grateful.

“Mr. Yunioshi: An Asian Perspective” is a long due examination of the yellowface character played by Mickey Rooney in the film. A number of Asian film and media experts weigh in on their opinion of the character, which basically boils down to the fact that it is totally offensive. Still, the piece goes beyond mere reaction and looks at the place of Asian actors and characters in film history, and on these grounds, it’s quite interesting. Paramount has definitely done some favorable editing to make the tone of the piece nice and conciliatory, but it’s the right thing to include something like this on the DVD.

These three featurettes clock in at around 20 minutes. The fourth new feature, “Behind the Gates: A Tour” is a ridiculous little piece of promotion for Paramount Studios tourism that is thankfully just a few minutes long.

In addition, all of the features from the 45th Anniversary DVD are here, including a commentary track with producer Richard Shepherd (where is the commentary from director Blake Edwards?), a making-of featurette and two short pieces on Hepburn’s fashion and the history of Tiffany’s. A letter that Hepburn wrote to the founder of Tiffany’s, a trailer and photo galleries round out the disc.

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About Dusty Somers

Dusty Somers is a Seattle-based editor and writer. He is a member of the Online Film Critics Society and Seattle Theater Writers.