You and many of your students may identify Holly Golightly with the iconic scene of Audrey Hepburn singing “Moon River” on her fire escape. Although director Blake Edwards took a great deal of liberty with Capote’s classic novella about an up-and-coming call girl in New York City, the movie itself is well worth a few days of class time. Nobody who watches Breakfast at Tiffany’s can come away from the movie without some idealist dreams of his or her own.
The Movie that Almost Never Was
In fact, the movie almost never came to be. Casting issues plagued the film. Capote wanted Marilyn Monroe for Holly and her agent refused, saying she could not play a call girl. Miss Hepburn, well known for her pixie, waiflike charm in Roman Holiday, seemed rather unconvincing as a would-be prostitute trying to get ahead of the game. The language of the novella itself, with crude references to lesbians, outright homosexuality, a miscarriage and a great deal of pre-marital sex were not the images normally seen on the silver screen.
The director toned down the production. The narrator became a love interest rather than a friend to Holly. Her “profession" was hinted at and the narrator is also what we would call an “escort," perhaps to soften the blow of Holly’s line of work. As adaptations go, it is a loose one at best, yet the film truly captured some essence of Capote’s novel. It is the character of Holly herself, brought to life so perfectly by Audrey Hepburn that wins over audiences.
After students have read the novel, take a few days to show the film. Discuss the similarities and differences. Have your students read a movie review, and use the downloadable PowerPoint presentation, and test to assess them on the film.
This post is part of the series: Truman Capote: High School Lesson Plans
- The Crime of the Century? In Cold Blood
- True Crime, “The Strangers" and In Cold Blood, a Cross Discipline Approach to Teaching Capote’s Classic
- Breakfast at Tiffany’s the Iconic Novella by Truman Capote
- From Page to Screen Breakfast at Tiffany’s the Classic Film
- “A Christmas Memory," a Sweet Memoir by Truman Capote