Greatest Film Scenes
and Moments

Breakfast at Tiffany's (1961)


Written by Tim Dirks

Title Screen
Movie Title/Year and Scene Descriptions

Breakfast at Tiffany's (1961)

In Blake Edwards' 1960s madcap comedy-drama, based upon Truman Capote's 1958 novella of the same name (adapted by George Axelrod):

  • the main character was a spirited, superficial, naive, offbeat and radiant New York call girl socialite - Holly Golightly (Audrey Hepburn), an eccentric gold-digging prostitute wearing a sculpted black Givenchy evening gown and sunglasses and standing outside the locked Tiffany's jewelry store on Fifth Avenue in Manhattan in the film's opening credits sequence - window-shopping while eating her breakfast from a to-go white paper bag (coffee in a polystyrene cup and a dry pastry or croissant); after a night on the town, she was enroute, via walking, to her NY East Side brownstone where she often plied clients
  • Holly was originally a child bride named Lula Mae Barnes (from the rural town of Tulip, TX), who lived in a cramped, one-bedroom apartment in a Manhattan brownstone on the East Side; her implausible quirks included a tabby Cat (Orangey) with no name, a partially-furnished apartment, income derived from male escorts and from weekly "weather report" visits with a gangster named Sally Tomato (Alan Reed) in Sing Sing Prison
  • there was an iconic view of Holly loudly whistling for a cab outside her brownstone for her neighbor: aspiring writer (stuck in a rut with writer's block) Paul Varjak (George Peppard) - he was amazed ("I never could do that"); and then she met the woman exiting the cab: a wealthy married 'decorator' Emily Eustace (nicknamed 2E) Failenson (Patricia Neal) - Paul was her 'kept man'; Holly lowered her sunglasses to get a closer look
  • Holly described her cat, and why she couldn't commit to giving it a name - when speaking to Paul: "Poor old cat. Poor slob. Poor slob without a name. The way I look at it, I don't have the right to give him one. We don't belong to each other. We just took up by the river one day. I don't even want to own anything until I can find a place where me and things go together. I'm not sure where that is, but I know what it's like. It's like Tiffany's...I'm crazy about Tiffany's"
  • the same scene of Holly's advice to Paul who urged him to overcome the fearful and horrible 'mean reds' - by a trip to Tiffany's: ("You know those days when you get the mean reds?... The blues are because you're getting fat or maybe it's been raining too long. You're just sad, that's all. The mean reds are horrible. Suddenly you're afraid and you don't know what you're afraid of. Do you ever get that feeling?...Well, when I get it, the only thing that does any good is to jump into a cab and go to Tiffany's. Calms me down right away. The quietness and the proud look of it. Nothing very bad could happen to you there. If I could find a real-life place that made me feel like Tiffany's, then, then I'd buy some furniture and give the Cat a name")
  • Holly held a crowded apartment cocktail party in her cramped one-bedroom brownstone on Manhattan's East Side with loud mambo music; before the party really started, Paul listened to Holly's self-important agent O.J. Berman (Martin Balsam) ask a question about his client: "Is she or isn't she?...A phony"; after Paul answered: "I don't think so", Berman continued: "Well, you're wrong, she is. But on the other hand, you're right, because she's a real phony. You know why? Because she honestly believes all this phony junk that she believes in. I mean it. Now look, I like the kid. I mean, I sincerely like the kid. I do. I mean, I'm sensitive, that's why. I mean, you gotta be sensitive to like the kid, you know what I mean? It's what you call a touch, a streak of the poet, you know what I mean?"; Berman then took credit for discovering Holly, for giving her class after a year-long effort to smooth out Holly's accent, and described how she often acted impulsively (and skipped her screen test)
  • brief party scene vignettes included: Holly's Cat jumping on a guest's back, Holly setting the purple hat of a guest on fire with her long cigarette holder (while somebody else doused it with their drink), Holly's neighbor Paul placing his cold drink glass against the naked back of a blonde and then having his drink stolen by Holly, the delivery of "reinforcements" (more booze and food), lots of over-imbibing and smoking, the incensed complaining of upstairs bucktoothed Japanese photographer-neighbor Mr. Yunioshi (Mickey Rooney in a controversial buffoonish, racist role) who phoned (Holly's phone was hidden in a closed suitcase) and threatened to call the police, soused red-haired model Mag Wildwood (Dorothy Whitney) reprimanding a rich male for flirting with Holly ("To think I'd find a beau of mine, mousin' after a piece of cheap Hollywood trash...You know what's gonna happen to you? I am gonna march you over to the zoo and feed you to the yak. Just as soon as I finish this drink") - and then collapsing face-first onto the floor as Holly cried out a warning: "Timber!", the sounds of a siren marking the arrival of NYPD officers who passed Holly (she directed them upstairs) walking away on the arm of Mag's millionaire beau, and the discovery behind a shower curtain of O.J. Berman kissing a sexy blonde (Thayer Burton) who had earlier identified herself to him as "Irving"
  • the simple scene of Holly strumming a guitar and singing Johnny Mercer's Oscar-winning song "Moon River" on her fire escape landing
  • Holly became reacquainted with her ex-husband, Texan Doc Golightly (Buddy Ebsen), a horse doctor who incessantly called her Lula Mae - they had been married (now annulled) when she was only 15 years old; in the scene at a bus station, Holly explained why their love hadn't worked and why she wasn't going back with him to Texas: "It's a mistake you always made, Doc, trying to love a wild thing. You were always luggin' home wild things. Once it was a hawk with a broken wing and another time it was a full-grown wildcat with a broken leg. Remember?... You mustn't give your heart to a wild thing. The more you do, the stronger they get. Until they're strong enough to run into the woods or fly into a tree. And then to a higher tree and then to the sky"; when he departed broken-hearted, she admitted to Paul: "I am still Lula Mae. Fourteen years old, stealing turkey eggs and running through a briar patch. But now I call it having the mean reds. Well, it's still too early to go to Tiffany's. I guess the next best thing is a drink"
  • the sequences of Holly and Paul fulfilling Holly's idea: "We can spend a whole day doing things we've never done before. We'll take turns. First something you've never done, then me" - beginning with their magical visit to Tiffany's - where she exulted as they entered: "Don't you just love it?...Tiffany's. Isn't it wonderful? You see what I mean how nothing bad could ever happen to you in a place like this? It isn't that I give a hoot about jewelery, except diamonds, of course - like that!"; however, his offer of buying her a present for $10 or less made their choices "limited"; the two rejected a $6.75 sterling silver telephone dialer; Paul suggested a ring in his pocket from a Cracker Jack box, that could be engraved with initials at Tiffany's - Holly was pleased that the salesman (John McGiver) was accommodating - she kissed him, and then told Paul: "Didn't I tell you this was a lovely place?"
Visiting Tiffany's With Paul
  • the two visited a public library, where Paul showed her how to find his published book in the card catalogue from five years earlier: "Varjak, Paul. Nine Lives"; after retrieving the book, Holly bragged to the librarian-clerk that Paul was the author, and foolishly suggested that he autograph the book, although the clerk vehemently objected: "What are you doing? Stop that! You're defacing public property"
  • during a scene in the local Carter's 5-10-25 store, Holly demonstrated her love of shop-lifting: ("Hey, did you ever steal anything from a five-and-ten, when you were a kid, I mean?...I used to. I still do every now and then, sort of to keep my hand in. Come on. Don't be chicken. Anyway, you've never done it, and it's your turn"; the two wore Halloween masks and exited the store without paying, and she yelled "Boo!" at a cop on the corner as they ran across the street
  • they experienced a slow-kiss, after they returned to Holly's apartment and removed their masks; and shortly afterwards, Paul found Holly in the library, where she was reading a book about South America; he professed his love for her ("Holly, I love you") - and suggested marriage, but she stubbornly admitted instead that she was determined to marry José da Silva Pereira (Vilallonga), a wealthy South American politician ("I thought if I'm going to marry a South American, I'd better find out something about the country...Well, my dear, you won't believe this, but it turns out not only is he handsome and wildly rich, he's absolutely cuckoo for me")
  • [Note: It was revealed that Holly had been a courier of illegal drug information from gangster Tomato to his New York lawyer Mr. O'Shaunessy (Joseph J. Greene), causing Jose to drop Holly to protect his reputation.]
  • in the film's final scene in a cab during a downpour, Holly stubbornly insisted to Paul that she was still intent on traveling to NYC's Idylwild Airport and flying to Brazil (even though Jose had decided to break up with her through a letter delivered by his cousin) - Paul read the letter outloud, with its final line: ("I have my family to protect and my name and I am a coward where these institutions enter. Forget me, beautiful child. And may God be with you. Jose")
The Taxi-Cab Ride and Abandonment of Cat
  • in a heartbreaking and distressing moment, Holly decided to abandon her nameless Cat by letting it out the taxi's back door: "I'm like cat, here. We're a couple of no-name slobs. We belong to nobody. And nobody belongs to us. We don't even belong to each other. Stop the cab. What do you think? This ought to be the right kind of place for a tough guy like you. Garbage cans, rats galore. Scram! I said take off! Beat it! Let's go!"
  • Paul angriy lectured at Holly after ordering the cab to pull over and stop: "You know what's wrong with you, Miss Whoever-you-are? You're chicken. You've got no guts. You're afraid to stick out your chin and say, 'Okay, life's a fact.' People do fall in love. People do belong to each other because that's the only chance anybody's got for real happiness. You call yourself a free spirit, a wild thing. And you're terrified somebody's gonna stick you in a cage. Well, baby, you're already in that cage. You built it yourself. And it's not bounded in the west by Tulip, Texas or on the east by Somaliland. It's wherever you go. Because no matter where you run, you just end up running into yourself" - he tossed the engraved Cracker Jack ring at her ("Here. I've been carrying this thing around for months. I don't want it any more"), and left the cab to find Cat
  • in the film's final moments, with a sudden change of heart, Holly put on the ring, exited the cab and ran back down the rain-soaked street, joyously located Cat, and was reunited with both Cat and Paul in an alleyway - she kissed Paul with the Cat squeezed in-between them - her last line: "Cat! Cat! Oh, Cat... ohh..."

Holly Outside NYC's Tiffany's at Dawn

Holly Eyeing Emily Failenson or 2E (Patricia Neal)

Holly: "Poor old Cat"

Holly's Description of Fear: "The mean reds"

Apartment Cocktail Party Scene

Complaints From Neighbor Mr. Yunioshi

Holly: "Moon River"

Holly's Ex-Husband Doc Golightly (Buddy Ebsen)

Paul and Holly's Visit to Library

Wearing Halloween Masks


Ending Scene: Cat Found - and Reconciliation in the Rain


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