Breakfast at Tiffany's

Love is in the FAIRbruary – The Romcom Project 2

So yeah, the Mickey Rooney bits are really bad.

But bad in more ways than one. I assume that this has been addressed in the tons of stuff that's been written about this film and racial caricature in cinema down the years, but what struck me about Rooney's character here is that he's completely unnecessary!

He contributes absolutely nothing to this film. For a start, he's barely in it. When he is, his character is so at odds with the tone of the rest of the film that I don't understand what he's even doing here. If you took him out of the picture, it would make absolutely no difference to where this goes, but it would be better for it with him not making the whole thing uneven when he comes on screen.

Also, are we really supposed to believe that society didn't see this as wrong back in 1961? I just don't believe it. I just can't abide this idea that they got away with this stuff back then because 'that's just how things were!' Blake Edwards was an absolute turd for this and Rooney just as big a one for accepting the role in the first place. The worst thing of all is that even if it had been played by a Japanese man, it still would have been an awful, pointless, racist role.

There's something else on a completely different note that bothers me about Breakfast at Tiffany's as well, and that's Audrey Hepburn, or rather the perception of her in this film. Perhaps more than any other woman in film history, she is one whose public image and aesthetic subsume her actual exceptional talent as an actor. All I ever hear or read about her in this and most other things she was about how she looked or carried herself or what she was wearing and so on.

What I've realised in the increasing numbers of her films I've watched over the last couple of years (I'd only seen Wait Until Dark until relatively recently) is that she was such a natural and naturalistic actor. Everything seemed absolutely effortless to her and in an era where acting styles in Hollywood still sided very much with the theatrical, she, surprisingly, had a forthright edge to her that she was perhaps at the forefront of in terms of acting style.

It's even more impressive in Breakfast at Tiffany's because she's playing an artificial character in an artificial setting, exaggerated by necessity to satirise a hollow and shallow society which has forgotten how to properly express itself. It's an interesting byline in a surprisingly downbeat but still superbly made (for the most part, obviously) and occasionally very funny film.

It's most off-putting to see George Peppard without a cigar but what a splendid performance he surprised me with here, although I'd suggest that his scenes with Patricial Neal carry as much spark, if not more, than those with Hepburn. A fascinating film in mostly impressive ways and, as I actually might have thought, not at all what it's been sold as all these years.