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YMMV / Breakfast at Tiffany's

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Film

  • Adaptation Displacement: No really, a novella, not just a movie.
  • Awesome Music: "Moon River", which was apparently written specifically to fit Audrey Hepburn's singing range.
  • Ethnic Scrappy: Mickey Rooney's character. With yellowface makeup, silly accent, thick glasses and buck teeth (along with being a general Butt-Monkey Up to Eleven), Mr. Yunioshi is one of the most notoriously racist caricatures in American film. In Dragon: The Bruce Lee Story it is used as an example of how Asians were depicted in Hollywood and how Lee was about to provide something better. In retrospect, both producer Richard Shepherd and director Blake Edwards expressed their regret for casting Rooney. Rooney himself stated he was heart-broken over this and had never received a complaint about his portrayal.
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  • Fair for Its Day: While the film is notorious for the character Mr. Yunioshi, performed in yellowface as a slapstick buffoon, it does at least give him a significant profession as an artistic photographer who is much in demand by Holly's socialite circle, rather than saddling him with a stereotypical trade such as a laundry or restaurant owner. The film also aggressively highlights a mixed-race couple of a white man and a Chinese woman in Holly's party, sticking them in the middle of the frame during several sequences. This was fairly progressive for 1961.
  • Harsher in Hindsight: Doc complains that Holly has become too thin and asks Paul to make sure that she eats. Hepburn's famously petite frame is thought to be a side effect of malnutrition in her youth.
  • Heartwarming Moments:
    • Paul and Holly go to Tiffany's and look at jewelry, but ultimately they decide to engrave a ring from a Cracker Jack box. Instead of being offended or irritated, the jeweler gently observes the ring, then agrees to engraving it. Holly kisses him on the cheek so being so sweet.
    Jeweler: I see. Do they still really have prizes in Cracker Jack boxes?
    Paul: Oh, yes.
    Jeweler: That's nice to know. It gives one a feeling of solidarity, almost of continuity, with the past, that sort of thing.
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    • Holly finding Cat in the rain. Watch it and weep.
  • I Am Not Shazam: The protagonist's name is "Holly", not "Tiffany". "Tiffany's" is a jewelry store and the breakfast in question consists of consuming a pastry and coffee while browsing the shop window display.
  • Memetic Mutation: The "little black dress", which has become a fashion term in its own right.
  • Narm Charm: Holly's nightmare about Fred borders on this if it doesn't fall straight into the Narm category.
    Where are you, Fred? It's so cold... The snow, and...
  • Never Live It Down: Mickey Rooney's overly caricatured and racially insensitive portrayal of Mr. Yunioshi falls squarely under this, and has been relentlessly mocked and bemoaned by modern critics and audiences.
  • Retroactive Recognition: Paul Varjak is played by George Peppard, later known as Hannibal Smith.
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  • Unintentionally Sympathetic: The film depicts Holly's curious lifestyle in a decidedly negative light, with a lot of browbeating from the other characters about how she shouldn't engage in independent frivolity, and she should settle down with one man since "people belong to each other." Her phobia of being tied down is depicted as fickle, feckless, selfish behavior on her part. The Problem? Her Freudian Excuse: She got married to a midddle-aged widower when she was 13; too young to know what marriage would entail beyond "it sounds like fun." Even if the marriage was chaste before it was annulled, a middle-aged man was still grooming 13-year-old girl to become his ideal wife since he expected her to cook, clean, and be a mother to his kids — who were about her age when they got married. No wonder she has a deep-seated terror of being tied down! Any girl would be in her shoes!
  • Unintentionally Unsympathetic: Lula Mae's husband is depicted in the film as a good man who fell in love with a wild beauty who won't commit or settle down, who selfishly ran away from her loving husband and his children to pursue a life soulless frivolity. The problem? He married a 13-year-old girl. Not only that, but he expected her to instantly settle into her role as a housewife and act as a mother to his kids—who are about her age. No wonder she has deep-seated commitment issues!
  • Values Dissonance:
    • Mickey Rooney in Yellowface rubs many modern viewers the wrong way.
    • Lula Mae's middle-aged husband, who married her when she was barely fourteen. While it's implied it was a chaste marriage (she remarks that it was annulled ages ago), and it was unacceptable (and illegal) in the 1940s/1960s, he still expected a girl "going on 14" to be his wife. It would be very hard to depict such a man as sympathetic today.
  • WTH, Casting Agency?: Ms. Hepburn has stated that she was terribly miscast (Truman Capote wanted Marilyn Monroe for the role). And yet she made it work. Mickey Rooney as a Japanese man, on the other hand...

Novella

  • Values Resonance: This particular line of Holly's from the original novella, advocating Extreme Omnisexual behaviour, is especially daring for the time the story is set in (1943-4), but rings more true today:
    I'd settle for [Greta] Garbo anyday. Why not? A person ought to be able to marry men or women or— listen, if you came to me and said you wanted to hitch up with a Man o' War, I'd respect your feeling. No, I'm serious. Love should be allowed. I'm all for it. Now that I know what it is.


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