Audrey Hepburn Playing "Moon River" on Guitar, "Breakfast at Tiffany’s" (1961)

Considered to be Audrey Hepburn’s (May 4, 1929 – January 20, 1993) most iconic role as “Breakfast at Tiffany’s” flighty, insecure party girl Holly Golightly, not everyone was pleased with the film’s casting decision. Author Truman Capote, the author of the best-selling “Breakfast at Tiffany’s” novel, wanted Marilyn Monroe in the role. Monroe initially accepted the part, but then backed out after her acting coach said she shouldn’t play the role of a “lady of the night.” Capote hated Hepburn as the heroine, saying she was miscast. The film received two Oscars: Best Original Song (“Moon River”) and Best Music Scoring, as well as five Grammys, which included Song of the Year and Record of the Year. Hepburn was nominated for both an Oscar and Golden Globe award. The film was directed by Blake Edwards.

 

Synopsis, via Wikipedia:

A young New York socialite becomes interested in a young man who has moved into her apartment building.

 

The film’s main cast was comprised of Hepburn, George Peppard, Patricia Neal, Martin Balsam, Buddy Ebsen, José Luis de Vilallonga (billed for this film simply as Vilallonga), Alan Reed, John McGiver, and veteran actor Mickey Rooney. Rooney’s role (that of a bumbling, buffoonish Japanese landlord with fake buckteeth) has become increasingly more controversial since the film’s release in the 1960’s.

 

Background and film trivia, via Wikipedia:

The very first scene filmed was the opening shot of Holly munching on a pastry in front of Tiffany’s in an evening gown. The scene took place in front of the actual Tiffany’s on 5th Avenue in Manhattan early on a Sunday morning. Tiffany’s was extremely cooperative during the filming and allowed the crew unprecedented access to film its interiors. Tiffany’s opened its doors on a Sunday for the first time since the 19th century so that filming could take place inside the store.

 

Audrey Hepburn’s salary for the film was $750,000, making her the highest paid actress per film at the time.

 

At a post-production meeting following a screening of the film, a studio executive, in reference to “Moon River,” said, “Well, I think the first thing we can do is get rid of that stupid song.” Audrey Hepburn stood up at the table and said, “Over my dead body!” The song stayed in the picture.

 

The party sequence was reportedly the longest and hardest scene to shoot in the movie. Most of the gags that occur in the scene are not in the novel, but originally scripted by Blake Edwards.

 

Tony Curtis stated in his 2008 autobiography that he asked his friend, director Blake Edwards to cast him in the role of writer Paul Varjak but Mel Ferrer didn’t want his wife, Audrey Hepburn to make a movie with him, so Edwards declined his services.

 

The famous black dress worn by Audrey Hepburn in the opening scenes of this movie was sold for $807,000 on December 4, 2006 at Christie’s Auction House in London, making it the second most expensive piece of movie memorabilia ever sold. The first is the Best Picture Oscar for Gone with the Wind (1939).

 

The song “Moon River” was written especially for Hepburn, since she had no training as a singer. The vocals were written to be sung in only one octave. Henry Mancini wrote “Moon River” specifically for Hepburn; he later said that while many versions of the song have been done, he feels that Audrey’s was the best.

 

Although not visible on camera, hundreds of onlookers watched Audrey Hepburn’s window-shopping scene at the start of the film. This made her nervous and she kept making mistakes. It wasn’t until a crew member nearly got electrocuted behind the camera that she pulled herself together and finished the scene.

 

Not surprisingly considering his intensity, George Peppard didn’t make many friends on the set. He and Blake Edwards locked horns many times throughout the filming, almost coming to blows on at least one occasion. No matter what kind of direction he was given, Peppard would end up playing the scene as he thought it should be played, which didn’t endear him to anyone. Even Patricia Neal, with whom Peppard had been friendly in the past, noticed a change in the actor-and not for the better. Peppard, she felt, had been “spoiled.” Peppard felt from the get-go that Neal’s character was too dominant. “He wanted things as he wanted them,” she later said of Peppard. “I dominated him a lot more in the script and he didn’t want to be seen in that condition…His character was written with a battered vulnerability that was totally appealing, but it did not correspond to George’s image of a leading man. He seemed to want to be an old-time movie hunk.”

 

In the 2006 short documentary “Breakfast at Tiffany’s: The Making of a Classic” (2006), Blake Edwards said that when the movie was made, he didn’t think about the implications of casting a white actor, Mickey Rooney, in a role as a Japanese person, but “looking back, I wish I had never done it… and I would give anything to be able to recast it.”

 

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