Thursday, May 27, 2010

The Real Little Black Dress--On the Joys of Fifth Avenue, 5 A.M.

There are pop culture touchstones that have such resonance that a book can be written about them and find an audience. If I say that Fifth Avenue, 5 A.M. is only for folks who have seen "Breakfast at Tiffany's" at least five times, the potential market is still enormous. We don't just own the DVD, we have the "collector's edition box." Sadly, we can't at the moment find it.

You never know who is going to be a fan. I was selling books at an offsite a couple of weeks ago when the featured author looked over at my galley and said, "I don't remember that scene from the movie." The answer didn't come to me until later--it's the first shot, and if you watch the move on television, you probably miss it more than you see it. My other thought was, you have had to see the movie at least three times to think that you remember every shot, and this movie wasn't on my shortlist of said author's favorite films.

The book could have turned out to be 1) dry 2) repetitive 3) badly written or 4) without new insight. But Sam Wasson, though lacking in primary source material, does a great job putting the story together. He asks the right questions and looks in the right place for answers.

There aren't just learn the inspirations for Holly Golightly, but also the inspiration for her apartment. Why did a poor working girl sport designer duds? And what of Capote and how he handled the movie's release? The novella at the time was considered unfilmable, but they turned an unnamed homosexual narrator into a straight kept man and voila, box office gold. There's no straight answer to that one, but you can assume he wasn't happy with the changes.

Henry Mancini desperately wanted to write the theme song for the movie, but one of the producers hated the finished product and wanted it cut. The story on how he got the score he wanted involved budget cuts at the studio. I wish they'd been more successful and excising the Mickey Rooney character. On the other hand, I'm told by my sisters that my dad loved the Mr. Yunioshi bits.

There's a lot of material on my favorite scenes, Holly's wild party and her daytime adventure with Paul. Blake Edwards felt that the only two parts of the movie that were truly his was the former and the ending--he actually shot two of them and they wound up using the different one from the screenplay that was his idea.

And don't think that if you've read the Wikipedia, you already know all. It says there was only one cat who played "Cat", but there were actually 12. According to Wasson, cats can only be trained to do one trick.

Here's a picture of the family copy of B.A.T. I think we also have the collector's edition box, but its whereabouts remain unknown. I think it's hidden while we wait for it to go up in value.

No comments: