Thursday, June 15, 2017

Recasting BREAKFAST AT TIFFANY'S

It's possibly one of the most perfect pieces of miscasting in a 1960s Hollywood movie.  Audrey Hepburn may have been all wrong for Truman Capote's vision of Holly Golightly as she appears in his novella, but Audrey Hepburn was absolutely fabulous for millions who saw the movie adaptation.  I'm one of those millions.  I fall in love with her as Holly every time I see BREAKFAST AT TIFFANY'S  The opening credits sequence alone seemed to skyrocket Audrey Hepburn from film fashion plate to international fashion icon.
It's been written that Truman Capote did not approve of that movie casting.  He'd written Holly with Marilyn Monroe in mind.  BREAKFAST AT TIFFANY'S brought Audrey Hepburn a Best Actress of 1961 Oscar nomination.
That same year saw a much-troubled Marilyn Monroe in Arthur Miller's original screenplay drama, THE MISFITS, co-starring Clark Gable and Montgomery Clift.  It would be Monroe's last completed film before her untimely death in August 1962.
I wrote an opinion on Audrey Hepburn's Holly that got mentioned on NPR about seven years ago.  I feel that Hepburn, who reportedly had initial doubts about taking on the role, challenged herself and her image by playing Holly.  Since her starring role as the princess in William Wyler's ROMAN HOLIDAY, a performance that introduced her to American audiences and earned her the Best Actress of 1953, she was the poised young lady who was attracted to mature older gentlemen instead of immature men in her own age category.  She fell for Gregory Peck as the jaded American newspaper reporter in ROMAN HOLIDAY.  Her other leading men would include Gary Cooper, Humphrey Bogart, Cary Grant, Fred Astaire and Rex Harrison.  As Astaire's character in FUNNY FACE describes her, she's "...a girl who has character, spirit, and intelligence."

Those aren't qualities you'd apply to Holly in Capote's story.  The late TCM host, Robert Osborne, described Capote's novella Holly as someone who could be "vacant and vapid."  But the screenplay adaptation flips the script on the early Audrey Hepburn movie template.  In Blake Edwards' BREAKFAST AT TIFFANY'S, she's the young woman who relocates to New York City to reinvent herself.  She goes from country caterpillar to big city social butterfly.  She seems to be living a fabulous hipstress life in Manhattan but it's really a rootless existence.  Although not a hooker, Holly will occasionally go horizontal as sort of a "thank you" to an older visiting businessman to took her out, bought her dinner and gave her "$50 for the powder room" and she will unwittingly pass messages from a drug lord in prison.
In BREAKFAST AT TIFFANY'S, the older men are leading her astray and complicating her life.  It's the young man in her own age category who wants to save her from all that and give her true love, a substantial life.
So...with that in mind...if Audrey Hepburn had not played Holly Golightly, who would you have cast? I have two picks.  My first choice is a highly respected actress who was quite easy on the eye.  Martin Ritt, director of NORMA RAE, told me in an interview that she was one of the actress who was approached to play Norma Rae but passed on it.  Reportedly, she also passed on BONNIE AND CLYDE.  The actress is....Tuesday Weld.

Tuesday got a Best Supporting Actress Oscar nomination for 1977's LOOKING FOR MR. GOODBAR.  She's great in 1965's THE CINCINNATI KID, 1968's PRETTY POISON, 1970's I WALK THE LINE and 1972's PLAY IT AS IT LAYS to name a few.  I really dig her in 1963's SOLDIER IN THE RAIN.

The above pic is from a 1961 network TV production of BUS STOP.

My second choice is an actress who reportedly retired to have a happy family life.  She made me happy seeing her on the big screen.  Just like Tuesday Weld, Pamela Tiffin was a tasty dish who also had solid acting chops.  Billy Wilder loved her way with comedy and cast her in ONE, TWO, THREE with James Cagney, a 1961 release.


She was wistful and charming in the 1962 remake of the 1940s musical STATE FAIR.  She lip synced "It Might As Well Be Spring" and played the love interest opposite Bobby Darin.  And she sizzled as the tempting teen stepdaughter wearing a bikini and dancing on a swimming pool diving board in the 1966 private eye crime thriller, HARPER, starring Paul Newman.

Tuesday Weld and Pamela Tiffin -- my two picks as a Holly Golightly if Audrey Hepburn had passed on the project.  Who would be your alternate?





















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