Thinking It. Wanting It. Seeing It. Touching It. Liking It. Doing It. Loving It. Wanting More…
[ chapters in Fifth Avenue, 5 A.M. ]
Much has been written of Audrey Hepburn and the iconic film, Breakfast At Tiffany’s . In most, we’re stylishly whisked away into the world of Holly Golightly. Living alone in a brownstone in Manhattan. Cha-cha-cha, isn’t she just marvelous? Oh, Darling, don’t you wish you could be her? Romance. Cat. Oh, poor Cat! We do belong to each other…
We’re hooked and we’ve sunk in one smooth move. In love with Holly and all she represents, we’re doomed. But Holly is a riddle. She is, by definition, impossible to define. And that is, above all, her greatest charm. Truman Capote made it so.
Sam Wasson’s newest book, Fifth Avenue 5 A.M. [Audrey Hepburn, Breakfast At Tiffany’s and The Dawn Of The Modern Woman] digs deeper than any other book on the subject I’ve read. And I’ve read many. Most books focus on the film and its iconic status, but Wasson takes us through more: the beginnings, the struggles, the fears, the conflicts, the contradictions and the ultimate success of the Breakfast At Tiffany’s we’ve come to know.
As with any creative endeavor, Breakfast At Tiffany’s didn’t just come together. It was gestating for a long time before it was words on a page [and images on a screen in the Hollywood adaptation.] And at any given point, it could’ve easily fallen apart.
Would audiences coming right out of the ’50s embrace a main character who, in the very simplest terms, is a high-society call girl? Played by Audrey Hepburn? Paramount Pictures was uneasy. According to Wasson’s book, film producers Marty Jurow and Richard Shepherd, optioned Capote’s novella, without “the faintest idea how the hell they were going to take a novel with no second act, a nameless gay protagonist, a motiveless drama, and an unhappy ending, and turn it into a Hollywood movie.”
They don’t end up together in the end, you know. The boy and the girl. Holly and Cat. It’s not the romantic chiffon of an ending that you might have been expecting. Not in Capote’s world. Holly goes on being Holly. In the novel, Cat is last seen, “flanked by potted plants and framed by clean lace curtains…seated in the window of a warm-looking room.” His new owner’s room. A place where, finally, he “may have arrived somewhere he belonged.” And gotten himself a name. Holly leaves the brownstone behind and jets to Brazil, giving no forwarding address. She may still be there. Or in Africa. No one knows, least of all, Holly.
In the early 60s, Holly Golightly changed the game and no one even knew it was happening. She made it not only glamorous, but acceptable for a woman to be independently-minded, stylish, and God forbid– unmarried. Holly did what she wanted. Fifth Avenue chronicles how she pulled it off and how numerous Hollywood personalities allowed her to exist well beyond the pages of Capote’s novella.
Through countless interviews and research, Fifth Avenue touches on the personal details, the conflicts, and the controversies [Yunioshi anyone?] that otherwise would be nearly forgotten in the light of Breakfast At Tiffany’s success since. It’s that rare book where even the sources and notes in the back are fascinating subject material (and motivation for further reading.)
Loving It. Wanting More.