"There were human beings, and there was Audrey Hepburn."
I can't remember where I first read about Fifth Avenue, 5 A.M., but I know my main thoughts about it were essentially 'I like Breakfast at Tiffany's, I'll put it on my Amazon wishlist!' And there it might have languished forever had not the LOVELY Bex bought it for me for a reason I can't even remember- It definitely wasn't my birthday, and it wasn't Christmas either, but other than that I honestly don't know. But the point is that I'm really really glad she did because it's kind of become my favourite book about films ever? Yeah, that.
So. As is probably clear from the title, this is a book about Breakfast at Tiffany's- it follows Audrey Hepburn, Truman Capote, and other key figures involved with Breakfast at Tiffany's from their early careers, through making the film and beyond. Whilst I wouldn't necessarily say that you should read it if you don't care about Breakfast at Tiffany's, I did find it incredibly accessible and so very interesting, mainly because it did go beyond the borders of the movie and into the wider lives of the people behind it and the state of Hollywood at the time it was made.
Because that state? Not so good. And by 'not so good', I mean that in 50s Hollywood, there were INCREDIBLY strict guidelines about what was and wasn't allowed in films, and what wasn't allowed was pre- or extra-marital sex or even a hint of such a thing, and a lot of other fun things besides (although smoking, of course, was practically encouraged, so there's that). All of this was still fully in force when Breakfast at Tiffany's was made, and it explains SO MUCH about the film- why, even though Holly is a prostitute, they can't ever say she's a prostitute, and why the end has to be the way it is- I don't want to ruin anything, but let's just say, marriage as opposed to sex.
I learnt so much trivia about the film from this book (George Peppard was a nightmare to work with, Audrey Hepburn nearly didn't take the part, nobody wanted the screenwriter, nobody wanted the director, nobody wanted Henry Mancini) but what was really best about it was that Wasson presented it all in a way so it didn't feel like trivia, but like you were actually along for the crazy ride with all the people involved. What this does mean is that he ascribes emotions and thoughts to actual people that they might not actually have had, and normally I hate that- BUT here it was so well done that I couldn't really argue with it, and the majority of these things were at least based in fact, and presented in such a way that it was impossible to roll my eyes at it. In fact, I did whatever the opposite of rolling my eyes at it would be... Just... Reading it with static eyes?
Anyway... I'm sure that the story of most movies is the story of opportunities almost missed and actors almost not cast and songs almost not written (MOON RIVER) but very few of those movies turn out to be an almost watershed moment in cinematic history and that's why this book doesn't feel superfluous. I feel like its effect is so great that, even if people haven't seen it, they've heard of it, and if they haven't heard of it (come on, don't be shy) they've seen photos like this:
And believe they know everything about it. Fun story about this photo- Tiffany's allowed scenes from the movie to be shot inside Tiffany's (for the first time ever, no less) as long as they could borrow Audrey Hepburn for their own publicity and that's basically where this comes from- it has barely anything to do with the film. SEE HOW INTERESTING THIS BOOK IS?
Basically, you're not really going to want to read this unless you've seen Breakfast at Tiffany's or, I guess, are a Truman Capote fan and want to know all about his part in all of this, but really, you should definitely watch the film and then read this. There's nothing quite like knowing just how different it could have been as a movie (Marilyn Monroe instead of Audrey Hepburn?! WHAT?) and how much of a struggle it was to get it as perfect as it kind of is, and you know what? This book is kind of perfect too. Read it, read it, read it, read it. Because I don't have anymore words to describe its excellence, but it really is so good.