‘Fifth Avenue, 5 A.M.’ peeks behind the glamour of ‘Breakfast at Tiffany’s’
It was a film that forever altered the nation’s collective sense of fashion, film and sexual mores – not to mention the brittle, squeaky clean image of actress Audrey Hepburn. “Breakfast at Tiffany’s,” drawn from Truman Capote’s translucent novella that most Hollywood producers deemed “unadaptable,” became a film that defined a profound sea change in Hollywood and in America at the dawning of the 1960s.
Just how this wispy tale of a spirited Manhattan good-time girl came to be such a potent cinematic emblem of glamour, sexual politics and the new morality is told in Sam Wasson’s delightful book, “Fifth Avenue, 5 A.M.” (HarperStudio, $19.99), a pithy behind-the-scenes look at the messy making of an era-defining classic.
Wasson, who previously surveyed the works of Tulsa-born director Blake Edwards in the witty, wide-ranging “A Splurch on the Kisser,” sharply pulls his focus here to chronicle Edwards’ trials and tribulations in bringing Capote’s light-as-a-bubble story to the screen. The challenge was considerable: the book lacked a second act and forceful dramatic motivations, it featured a nameless gay protagonist and an unhappy ending. Not exactly the stuff of feel-good Hollywood fantasy.
One early producer’s coverage report cited by Wasson predicted dim prospects for the book’s adaptation to the screen. “In any event this is more of a character sketch than a story,” the reader noted. “NOT RECOMMENDED.”
Wasson lays out the disagreements, stumbling blocks, misjudgments, on-set feuds and near disasters in the making of “Breakfast at Tiffany’s” with a novelist’s eye for telling detail and narrative tension and a refreshing irreverence. In fact, the story reads like gripping fiction yet falls neatly into the factual confines of the “nonfiction novel” that Capote so brazenly claimed to invent with “In Cold Blood.”
“Fifth Avenue, 5 A.M.” is packed with juicy tidbits that will surprise even avid film buffs. For instance:
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