Friday, April 25, 2008

Friday Film Night - Breakfast at Tiffany's

Please welcome back Kate Hardy as she treats us to one of her favourite films of all time....the timeless Breakfast at Tiffany's!

I’m so pleased that the PHS has asked me to talk about the film that inspired my latest NA release, In Bed with Her Italian Boss. (Which is on the Waldies list for the second week in a row – thank you very much to everyone who put it there!)

Given that the UK title of the book was Breakfast at Giovanni’s, you can guess which film I’m talking about…

Breakfast at Tiffany’s.

Even the title exudes glamour; and the iconic image of 1960s cinema is Audrey Hepburn in her role as Holly Golightly. Hepburn said it was her most challenging role – as an introvert, she had to play an extrovert) and critics say that it’s George Peppard’s best-ever acting role – and it’s a lovely, lovely film.

It’s not perfect (some of the party scenes have dated terribly and I fast-forward Mickey Rooney’s atrocious cameo because it makes me cringe) and it’s not your typical boy meets girl story. But for me, it works as an incredibly romantic movie.

I think it exemplifies what we’re trying to do in Modern Extra: deep emotion but with a light touch. Just as we have Holly in Breakfast at Tiffany’s being all surface fluff (the parties, the way she dresses) but underneath it is deep emotion (‘Moon River’ on the fire escape – and the truth about her past).

On the surface, the plot doesn’t sound like a Modern Extra. Look at the characters: Holly Golightly is a call girl who naively sends Mafia messages to a prisoner in Sing-Sing and who intends to marry a rich man under the age of 50; Paul Varjak is a struggling writer who’s being ‘sponsored’ by a rich older woman. If I tried either of those as character types, my ed would ring me and politely enquire if I’d gone bananas.

But look at it another way. Posh girl who isn’t what she seems meets up-and-coming star of the future. (That works for Modern Extra.) Both have secrets. (Yup.) Neither intends to fall in love with each other: they’ll be just friends. (Absolutely yup. My very, very favourite storyline is when best friends fall in love. Breakfast at Giovanni’s is a friends-to-lovers story.)

And the searching for oneself: that works, too. It’s my hero, rather than my heroine, who’s doing the searching in Breakfast at Giovanni’s, but he’s not going to settle down until he works out what he really wants from his future. Just like Holly Golightly: ‘I don’t want to own anything until I 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… If I could find a real life place to make me feel like Tiffany’s, then I’d buy some furniture and give the cat a name.’

And the independence of the heroine – yes and yes. (‘You don’t have to worry. I’ve taken care of myself for a long time.’ That sounds like the sort of thing that Fran, my heroine, would say.)

Another similarity between the film and a Modern Extra novel is that the focus isn’t on the plot – it’s on the relationship between the characters. That’s the point of category romance, too.

And the bit that really does it for me? When Paul Varjak succeeds in selling a story, he and Holly celebrate by spending a day on the town doing things they’ve never done before. (Oh. Lightbulb. Was that subconsciously prodding me when I was writing One Night, One Baby?) He’s never had champagne before breakfast. She’s never been on a walk in the morning. And he’s never been to Tiffany’s. (The shopping trip to Tiffany’s has to be one of the most romantic scenes ever. Just what a Modern Extra hero – who doesn’t have much money – would do.)

I admit, I don’t think I’d have my heroine trying to marry someone else, the way that Holly is on the lookout for her millionaire; but the way Varjak makes Holly face up to herself is exactly the way a Modern Extra hero would make a Modern Extra heroine face up to herself. He tells it to her straight.

‘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 on 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.’ (And that’s after he tells her he loves her and she’s stupidly turned him down, even though we know she loves him.)

And the bit that gets to me every single time and makes me howl? The black moment, right at the very end. The bit with the cat. I’m a dog person, but this makes me bawl every single time.

The black moment… in a downpour. And then it works out… still in a downpour. So we know that if they can make it there, they can make it anywhere. Just brilliant. A real HEA.

Kate has two books currently on the shelves: In Bed With Her Italian Boss (aka her award-winning novel Breakfast at Giovanni’s) is out in Presents Extra in the US this month, and her Medical Romance The Doctor’s Royal Love-Child is out in the UK this month (and in Australia next week!).

You can find out more about these books, and Kate, on her
website and her blog


  1. I now have Moon River going through my head.

  2. Darn it, Kate, I hate you. There I was about to settle down and do some serious work on manuscript number five and then I click over to the PHS for a quick peek and there you are blogging on one of my favourite films of all time! So now I've got to stay and have a chat...

    Mmmm, Breakfast at Tiffany's, for me this is the film that the word 'iconic' was invented for. All that style and glamour and cock-eyed romance and the setting? Just back from a holiday in New York myself and it hasn't changed a bit - give or take a few thousand Starbucks.

    And did you know, Audrey had given birth to her first son just three months before filming began. So now we have another reason to hate her.

  3. Lovely post, Kate! Do you know...gasp...I've never watched it! Must remedy that....

  4. I have been watching the trailers of the movie from quite some time now, it looks to a decent movie.Looking forward to watch it some time next week.

  5. Kate, Heidi, one of my all-time favourites as well and your review sums up so well what I love most about it. And that kiss, ahhhhhh.

    (PS: the short story I did for the Sizzle, Seduce & Simmer anthology, I called Breakfast At Timothy's.)


  6. Literally 20 minutes after I'd sent this post to the PHS eds, my computer decided to stop working... and I've only just got it back!

    So apologies for not replying earlier.

    Michelle - it's a good song, isn't it?

    Heidi - absolutely. And three months? Blimey.

    Donna - you'll love it.

    Vladimir - hope you enjoy the film.

    Bron - yes, that kiss! And great title for your Sizzle story :o)