NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER
NEW YORK TIMES BEST BOOK OF 2010
“So smart and entertaining it should come with its own popcorn” – People
“A bonbon of a book… As well tailored as the little black dress the movie made famous.” – Janet Maslin, New York Times
“Sam Wasson is a fabulous social historian.” – The New Yorker
“Reads like carefully crafted fiction…[Wasson] carries the reader from pre-production to on-set feuds and conflicts, while also noting Hepburn’s impact on fashion (Givenchy’s little black dress), Hollywood glamour, sexual politics, and the new morality. Capote would have been entranced.” — Publishers Weekly (starred review)
“Sam Wasson’s exquisite portrait of Audrey Hepburn peels backs her sweet facade to reveal a much more complicated and interesting woman. He also captures a fascinating turning point in American history— when women started to loosen their pearls, and their inhibitions. I devoured this book.” — Karen Abbott, author of Sin in the Second City
Fifth Avenue, 5 A.M. by Sam Wasson is the first ever complete account of the making of Breakfast at Tiffany’s. With a cast of characters including Truman Capote, Edith Head, director Blake Edwards, and, of course, Hepburn herself, Wasson immerses us in the America of the late fifties, before Woodstock and birth control, when a not-so-virginal girl by the name of Holly Golightly raised eyebrows across the nation, changing fashion, film, and sex, for good. With delicious prose and considerable wit, Wasson delivers us from the penthouses of the Upper East Side to the pools of Beverly Hills presenting Breakfast at Tiffany’s as we have never seen it before—through the eyes of those who made it.
|Product dimensions:||5.30(w) x 7.90(h) x 0.80(d)|
About the Author
Sam Wasson is the author of A Splurch in the Kisser: The Movies of Blake Edwards and the forthcoming Paul on Mazursky. He is working on a book about Bob Fosse. He lives in Los Angeles.
Read an Excerpt
Fifth Avenue, 5 A.M.Audrey Hepburn, Breakfast at Tiffany's, and the Dawn of the Modern Woman
By Sam Wasson
Harper PerennialCopyright © 2011 Sam Wasson
All right reserved.
Chapter OneTHINKING IT
THE FIRST HOLLY
Traveling was forced upon little Truman Capote from the
beginning. By the late 1920s, his mother, Lillie Mae, had made a
habit of abandoning her son with relatives for months at a time
while she went round and round from man to high-falutin'
man. Gradually the hand offs began to hurt Truman lesseither
that, or he grew more accustomed to the painand in time,
his knack for adaptation turned into something like genius.
He was able to fit in anywhere.
After his parents' divorce, five-year old Truman was sent
to his aunt's house in Monroeville, Alabama. Now was Lillie
Mae's chance to quit that jerkwater town and hightail it to a big
city. Only there could she become the rich and adored society
woman she knew she was destined to be, and probably would
have been, if it weren't for Truman, the son she never wanted
to begin with. When she was pregnant, Lillie MaeNina, as
she introduced herself in New Yorkhad tried to abort him.
Perhaps if she had gone away and stayed away, young
Truman would have suffered less. But Nina never stayed away
from Monroeville for long. In a whirl of fancy fabrics, she would
turn up unannounced, tickle Truman's chin, offer up an assortment
of apologies, and disappear. And then, as if it had never
happened before, it would happen all over again. Inevitably,
Nina's latest beau would reject her for being the peasant girl
she tried so hard not to be, and down the service elevator she
would go, running all the way back to Truman with enormous
tears ballooning from her eyes. A day or so would pass;
Nina would take stock of her Alabama surroundings and once
again, vanish to Manhattan's highest penthouses.
Had he been older, Truman might have stolen his heart
back from his mother the way he would learn to shield it from
others, but in those days he was still too young to be anything
but in love with her. She said she loved him, too, and at times,
like when she brought him with her to a hotel, promising that
now they'd really be together, it looked to him as though she
finally meant it. Imagine his surprise then when Nina locked
him in the room and went next door to make money-minded
love with some ritzy someone deep into the night. Truman, of
course, heard everything. On one such occasion, he found a
rogue vial of her perfume and with the desperation of a junkie,
drank it all the way to the bottom. It didn't bring her back, but
for a few pungent swallows, it brought her closer.
For the better part of Capote's career as a novelist, that
bottlewhat was left of his motherwould be the wellspring
of most of his creations. The idea of her, like the idea of love
and the idea of home, proved a very hard thing to pin down.
He tried, though. But no number of perfume bottles or whiskey
bottles, no matter how deep or beautiful, could alter the
fact of her absence. Nor could most of the women or men to
whom Truman attached himself. They could never pour
enough warmth into the void.
In consequence, Capote was equal parts yearning and
vengeance, clutching at his intimates with fingers of knives
that he would turn back on himself when left alone. However
sharp, those fingers pulled his mother from the past and
put her on the page where, in the form of language, he could
remake her perfume into a bottomless fragrance called Holly
Golightly. That's how Truman finally learned the meaning of
Once the reading world got a whiff of it, eau d'Holly made
everyone fall in love with Truman, which, since his mother
had left him that first time, was the only thing he ever wanted.
That and a homea feeling of something familiarlike an
old smell, a favorite scarf, or the white rose paperweight that
sat on Truman's desk as he wrote Breakfast at Tiffany's.
THE WHITE ROSE PAPERWEIGHT
When he was in Paris in 1948, soaking in accolades for his lurid
first novel, Other Voices, Other Rooms, Truman was delivered
by Jean Cocteau to Colette's apartment in the Palais Royal. She
was nearing eighty, but the author of Gigi, the Claudine novels,
and countless others, was still France's grandest grande dame
In full recline, Colette, racked with arthritis, no doubt
smiled at Truman's author photograph on the dust jacket of
Other Voices. Staring out at her with his languid eyes and slick
lips, the boy's salacious look was one the old woman knew well;
in her day, she had rocked Paris with a few succès de scandales
of her own, both on the page and off. Now here was this rascal
with his angel's facea hungry angel's face. How delicious.
She felt for sure there existed a kind of artery between them,
and even before he entered her bedroom, Truman sensed it
too. "Bonjour, Madame." "Bonjour." They hardly spoke each
other's language, but as he approached her bedside, their bond
grew from assured to obvious. The artery was in the heart.
After the tea was served, the room got warmer, and Colette
opened Truman's twenty-three-year old hand. In it she
placed a crystal paperweight with a white rose at its center.
"What does it remind you of?" she asked. "What images occur
Truman turned it around in his hand. "Young girls in their
communion dresses," he said.
The remark pleased Colette. "Very charming," she said. "Very
apt. Now I can see what Jean told me is true. He said, 'Don't
be fooled, my dear. He looks like a ten-year old angel. But he's
ageless, and has a very wicked mind.' " She gave it to him, a
Capote would collect paperweights for the rest of his life,
but years later the white rose was still his favorite. Truman
took it with him almost everywhere.
It all began for Audrey Hepburn in spring of 1951 on a gorgeous
day like any other. She rose at dawn, had a cup of coffee
in bed, and took her breakfasttwo boiled eggs and a slice of
whole wheat toastto the window, where she could watch the
morning people of Monte Carlo sail their yachts into the sea.
Such a leisurely breakfast was a rare pleasure for her; back in
England, where she had been working regularly, they started
shooting at sunup. But the French liked to do things differently.
They didn't really get going until après dejeuner, and
they worked late into the night, which gave Audrey mornings
to explore the beaches and casinos, and time to place a call to
James, her fiancé, who was off in Canada on businessagain.
He really was a very sweet boy, and attractive, and from the
Hansons, a good and wealthy family. He loved her of course,
and she loved him, and from the way it looked in the press,
they had everything. But everything is nothing when there's
no time to enjoy it. With her schedule taking her from film
to film, and his seemingly endless tour of the world's ritziest
boardrooms, it was beginning to look like they were betrothed
in name only. Perhaps, Audrey thought, she was foolish to
think she could be an actress and a wife. If she wanted to settle
downand she did, very badlyshe would have to put films
aside. At least, that's what James said. Only then could they
really truly be together.
Somewhere in her mind they were. They had a house, two
or three children, and a limitless expanse of days broken only
by sleep. Thankfully, her role in Monte Carlo Baby was only
going to last a month. That was no small consolation.
The Hotel de Paris was unquestionably the most stunning
hotel in all of Monaco. Judging from its façade, a Belle Epoque
confection of arches and spires, only the absolute cream of
society could make a habit of staying there. For Audrey, who
had never been to the Riviera, being at the Hôtel de Paris was
a thrill tempered only by her longing for James and the inanity
of the film (the script was drivel; some semi-musical fluff about
a missing baby). But for Colette, it was nothing unusual, just
another drop in the great gold bucket of luxury; she had been
a regular since 1908. Now, as a guest of Prince Rainier, Colette
was the palace queen, and as her wheelchair was turned down
the hotel's stately corridors, that's exactly how the footmen
greeted her. No doubt they saw in the old woman all the
arterial fire of her novels, which seemed to throb through her
from toe to tête, culminating in an explosion of red-broccoli
The doctors sent her there to rest, but resting, for Colette,
required more effort than working. Since her New York agent's
assistant had taken it upon himself to single-handedly produce
a play of her novel Gigi, Colette couldn't get the idea out of
her mind. She'd even gone a little delirious trying to cast the
title part and began to see Gigis everywhereon the street, in
the sea, and popping up in photographs. But none quite satisfied
Colette, and time wore expensively on. Those who had
invested in the project grew restless, andas tends to be the
case in most casting legendsthey were about to force the
play upon a proven star, when, at the last minute, Colette was
disturbed on her way to dinner.
What was about to happen would change Audrey's life
To her annoyance, Colette discovered that the main dining
room had been closed for the shooting of Monte Carlo Baby. Would
she, the maître d' asked her, take her dinner in the breakfast room
instead? Absoluement non! Insulted, Colette pushed her way right
into the dining room and right into the middle of a take.
The scene stopped dead in its tracks. The crew looked up.
No one breathed, except Colette. Catching sight of a strangely
compelling young woman, Colette squinted through the
beaming lights and raised her eyeglasses for a closer look.
Audrey, of course, had no inkling of being watched. Nor
had Colette any inkling of who she was. What she did know,
however, was that she seemed to have stepped into her own
novel: in face, body, and poise, she was staring at Gigi come
Perhaps Colette stared for full minutes, or perhaps just
moments, but most likely she spoke out instantly, for as Audrey
has proven millions of times since, that is all it takes for
her to overcome whoever lays eyes on her. In an instanta
scientific measurement when speaking of starsshe conveyed
to Colette what it took the author an entire novel to describe.
That is, the story of a Parisian girl, who at sixteen, was set to
undergo the education of a courtesan.
"Voilà," Colette said to herself, "c'est Gigi."
And like that, Audrey's transformation had begun.
"Voilà . . ." Like that.
It all sounds so magical, and indeed in a way it was, but
like all perfect acts of casting, Colette's epiphany was born of
more than just gut feelingit was born from fact. Although
Audrey's innate sensuality, her Gigi-ness, was written all over
her, no one until Colette had seen it. Perhaps it was because of
Audrey's strangeness. Her legs were too long, her waist was
too small, her feet were too big, and so were her eyes, nose,
and the two gaping nostrils in it. When she smiled (and she
did often), she revealed a mouth that swallowed up her face
and a row of jagged teeth that wouldn't look too good in closeups.
She was undoubtedly not what you would call attractive.
Cute maybe, charming, for sure, but with only the slightest
hint of makeup and a bust no bigger than two fists, she was
hardly desirable. The poor girl was even a bit round-faced.
And yet Colette couldn't stop staring. She was fascinated.
WHAT SHE SAW PART I: THE FACE
Audrey's might not have been the face of a goddess, but like
most teenagers, Gigi did not begin as a goddess. She was simply
a girl on the precipice of young adulthood, full of potential,
but without experience. And her eyes said that, didn't they?
They were certainly on the big side, but they were also wide,
and wide-eyed people have a look of perpetual curiosity.
Colette's Gigi had that. So do all those who don't yet know the
world. But that nose would be a problem, wouldn't it? It was
not sleek or pretty in the manner of high society ladies, and
neither were her hair, teeth, or thickset eyebrows. So how
would such a Gigi, looking not unlike a stray puppy, gain
access to the haut monde?
There was little that was womanly about her in the sexual
sense, nothing that said she was capable of pleasing a man, and
certainly nothing that looked ahead to the naughty
insinuations of Holly Golightly.
Or was there? Was there a drop of sex someplace beneath?
Smiling now, Colette lowered her eyeglasses and leaned
forward for a closer look.
WHAT SHE SAW PART II: THE BODY
The girl carried herself like a suppressed ballerina. Despite
what were then considered physical imperfections, Audrey
had a remarkable discipline in movement, one that told of self-
possession impossibly beyond her years, and so much so that
to watch her, Colette had to wonder at how a thing so young
could have understood poise so completely. In her simplest
gesture Audrey communicated a complete knowledge of
propriety, and by extension, an inner grace that belied whatever
made her look that unusual in the first place. She wasn't
dancing, but she might as well have been.
EVERYTHING THAT IS IMPORTANT IN A FEMALE
A flock of admirers had approached Colette. She swatted
them off. (Colette would enchant them later. If she was in the
mood.) The old woman reached up and pulled down an
unsuspecting member of the crew.
"Who is that?" she croaked, nodding in Audrey's direction.
"That is Mademoiselle Hepburn, madame."
"Tell her I want to speak with her." She released him and
added a touch of pink powder to her nose. "Tell them to bring
her to me."
Excerpted from Fifth Avenue, 5 A.M. by Sam Wasson Copyright © 2011 by Sam Wasson. Excerpted by permission of Harper Perennial. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
What People are Saying About This
“Sam Wasson’s exquisite portrait of Audrey Hepburn peels backs her sweet facade to reveal a much more complicated and interesting woman. He also captures a fascinating turning point in American history— when women started to loosen their pearls, and their inhibitions. I devoured this book.”
“This splendid new book is more than a mere ‘making-of’ chronicle. Wasson has pulled it off with verve, intelligence, and a consistent ring of truth...compulsively readable. Fifth Avenue, 5 A.M. is both enjoyable and informative: everything a film book ought to be.”
“A brilliant chronicle of the creation of Breakfast at Tiffany’s. Wasson has woven the whole so deftly that it reads like a compulsively page-turning novel. This is a memorable achievement.”
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
I bought this book as part of a "self-study" of "Breakfast at Tiffany's" that included Capote's original book, this book, and a viewing of the movie. I found that although this book was obviously well-researched, the author's insertion of his own opinions, often presented sarcastically, took away some of the enjoyment I might have found in the information itself. The very short sections with subheads that often failed to be as witty as they were intended were a serious distraction. The book could have been improved with more illustrations, including photos of more of the players, stills from the movie, and perhaps the movie oyster, which was discussed in some detail. Overall, I WOULD recommend this book to someone interested in movie history, but probably not to someone with just a passing interest in "Breakfast at Tiffany's," Capote, or Hepburn. One more thing: I read the ebook version of this book and was extremely disappointed in the lack of text formatting. For example, book and movie titles, which should have appeared in italic text, appeared in plain text, making them difficult to distinguish from the narrative. As a writer, I found this very distracting. Formatting is possible with the epub format, so there is no excuse for this. When I'm paying almost as much for a paperless copy of a book as I would for a printed copy, I expect a more satisfactory reading experience. Instead, I'm penalized not only for buying a book that I can't share with friends but one I have to struggle a bit to read.
I completely enjoyed this book. It was a quick read (one afternoon) and the time flew. I have always liked Breakfast at Tiffany's, but it is not my favorite film or anything. The author really did his homework and included interesting perspectives of all the major players in the making of the movie. I was born 10 years after the film came out, and it is easy to forget just how different the role of women was in the late 50's-early 60's. Wasson really shows you just how difficult it was for the screenwriter and director to get a character like Holly onto the screen. This book would be great for anyone who is in need of a break from heavy reading or complicated story lines. Who wouldn't want to spend an afternoon with Audrey?
10/30/11 Breakfast at Tiffany's has been my favorite film since I first saw it at age 10. After seeing it a dozen times, I adored reading the chronicle of its making. As a young woman, I was entranced by the evolution of the "modern woman." Before reading this book, I never understood how Audrey Hepburn came into the limelight and became a style icon. I always saw her as beautiful, but Wasson does an excellent job of portraying exactly what made Audrey's face and body usual for an actress of that time. This book is very funny and somewhat sarcastic, and I often found myself chuckling out loud at Wasson's sex jokes. Wasson draws the reader closer through imagery that makes a young woman or a film director drool over the epic story of how Breakfast at Tiffany's came to be. It does an excellent job of conveying the boldness of casting Audrey, the pure and innocent little Audrey, as the scandalous Holly Golightly. In addition to explaining Audrey's career, this book depicts Capote's journey as he searched for that fantastic woman that his mother never was. For film majors, this book reveals all the bitter fights behind the scenes about what could and could not be shown on screen. We all know that the screenwriters fought for autonomy from the Production Code, but Wasson shows the true turmoil that directors felt as an artist when they had to cut out sex scenes or raunchy behavior. Overall, this book is a good read because it tells how Breakfast at Tiffany's and Audrey Hepburn, as an icon, came to be in an entertaining, comical, and fluid way.
Fifth Avenue, 5 a.m. is about Audrey Hepburn (Holly Golightly) the woman behind the little black dress. In the book it talks about Hepburns life before the making of "Breakfast at Tiffany's" and her personal life. It also goes into depth about the making of "Breakfast at Tiffany's" and Truman Capote's life. one of the main themes that comes out in the book is the role of women in the 1950's and 60's. Women were supposed to get married, have kids, keep their husbands happy, and portey a perfect life and while Audrey Hepburn did so her character Holly Golightly did exactly the opposite. Holly was a high-class call girl and did not want to settle down and have the normal American life. The context of the the Book/ movie was frowned upon by many American. when Capote was trying to publish the book Harper's Bazaar refused to publish it because of its "crude context". Holly changed Americas out look on Fashion, sex, and movies forever. IF you like 'Breakfast at Tiffany's This is the perfect book to read!
Audrey Hepburn is an icon like no other, yet the image many of us have of Hepburn - dainty, immaculate - is anything but true to life. Here, for the first time, Sam Wasson presents the woman behind the little black dress that rocked the nation in 1961. With a colorful cast of characters including Truman Capote, Edith Head, Givenchy, "Moon River" composer Henry Mancini, and of course, Hepburn herself, Wasson immerses us in the America of the early sixties before Woodstock and birth control, when a not-so-virginal girl by the name of Holly Golightly raised eyebrows across the country, changing fashion, film, and sex for good. (excerpt back cover) In the novel, Fifth Avenue, 5 A.M., by Sam Wasson, the reader gets to see behind the scenes of perhaps one of the most well-known actresses of all, Audrey Hepburn whose movie, Breakfast at Tiffany's would change how the movies would forever change what was acceptable at that time. The reader journeys back in Hepburns past and gets the rare opportunity to be an early witness to what became the rise to fame for Audrey. Not being much to look at by the definition of Wasson, she wasn't one of the most beautiful woman, but she had a rare look about her, wide eyes, too long of legs, too skinny of arms and the most unappealing crooked smile. Hardly things one would consider when looking at the history of the movies Hepburn starred in. During the early 50's the censors, still controlled what we seen and what would be removed before anything made it to movies or television and for woman to be seen having affair or even the idea of having sex was only allowed in the minds of the writers. We see how much in the novel, that Hepburn wanted a married life complete with children and that she valued it so much, not even her movies or rise to stardom would be allowed to interfere. I received this book compliments of TLC Book Tours for my honest review and LOVED how Audrey Hepburn was written about, what she cared about and how she eventually became the lady who captivated us all with sophistication and elegance and a bit of class. We get an opportunity to look at some rare moments in Old Hollywood and how movies made it from books to the big screen! I award this book a 4.5 out of 5 stars and gave me a better appreciation for what really goes on behind the scenes in the life of Audrey Hepburn and other celebrities.
Worth checking out if you like a behind the scenes view of a movie. The research is less than thorough and the writing style is a bit choppy, but it is easy to follow and fun to read. Good book club pick.
This was a really good book, but it wasn't a front to back page turner. The story doesn't flow so it is extremely easy to get lost. I am a college student and it took me over a month to get through this book. There is alot of information about the 50s movie culture which I found really interesting. I did enjoy this book, but it is for a specific taste.
Breakfast at Tiffany's is one of the most iconic movies in the history of cinema. From Audrey Hepburn's little black dress to her singing Moon River people refer back to it as one of the most society altering movies. Sam Wasson did a great job of un-rooting the controversial aspects of making this movie back in 1950's and 60's. In this book, he covered what American women were like before the release of the movie, the way the production company had an extremely difficult time transferring the book into the movie in order to satisfy certain limits put on them, behind the scene stories and secrets, and the way the modern woman evolved after the release. A major theme in this book is the evolution of the household woman in the 50's and 60's. In the 50's, the life goals of most woman was to learn how to cook, clean, and be the perfect wife and mother for the men in their lives. They were very conservative and traditional. Sex before marriage was one of the most frowned upon things. The thought of a single woman living alone in the city who earns $50 for "the powder room" from wealthy men would send these housewives into cardiac arrest. In the early 60's, after Breakfast at Tiffany's was released, woman began to change their ways. Their main focus wasn't on finding a husband to care for, but to go out, get an education, and find a career. There were many things I liked about this book. The way Wasson describes Audrey's good girl persona was dead on, and how he explained the way Hollywood had to specifically tell people that she was not like her character Holly in any way, shape, or form. Even though this book is non-fiction, the way Wasson wrote it reads like a novel. One of the very few things I disliked about this book was how there was only one short chapter about actually filming the movie. People who enjoyed the movie and/or enjoy Audrey Hepburn should read this book. The details of the hard times Audrey had with starring in this movie aren't in any biographies of her. Also, this is an easy to read novel-like nonfiction book. Those who don't support women's rights or feminism wouldn't respond well to this book because its main focus is on how Breakfast at Tiffany's changed society's idea of the modern woman. Those of you who don't know much about Audrey Hepburn should check out other books about her. Fifth Avenue, 5 A.M. would be enjoyed easier if you knew more about her and how she was the epitome of a modern woman playing a role that was quite the opposite of that.
This is an exceptional novel for any Audrey Hepburn fan. The research and facts are amazing and you will not see Breakfast at Tiffany's the same, but only admire it more. I highly recommend this book.
Fifth Avenue, 5 A.M., by Sam Wasson, is a little book with a lot to say. The title tells you where and when shooting began on a silly-yet-pivital romantic comedy - the movie version of Breakfast at Tiffany's - and the book proceeds to put the whole production into the context of its time. Think late-fifties, early sixties. The world was different then. I had forgotten how different. What really interested me, though, was seeing how a story can be reimagined, and why this one had to be. First of all, if you've never read Breakfast at Tiffany's, do it now. Go ahead. Go. The rest of this can wait and I don't want to spoil anything for you ... It's stunning, don't you think, just how good Capote's comic tragedy really is. I just read it again and was astonished once more by how much feeling he was able to pack in so few pages. But the novella - even though it provides most of the dialogue in the film and shows more than it tells - was not well suited for the screen. Not at the time. In Fifth Avenue, 5 A.M., we learn that screenwriter George Axelrod struggled with the adaptation and nearly dispaired. This wasn't the typical Hollywood romance where Rock Hudson tries to bed Doris Day and she holds him off until they're married. The central character, Holly Golightly (Audrey Hepburn in the movie) is a Manhatten partygirl living off the largess of rich old men. Virginity isn't an issue. That was good because, we're told, Axelrod had been itching to do a truly adult comedy. It was bad because he had the Motion Picture Production Code to worry about. I watched the movie again last night and, while far from perfect, it is fascinating in its own right. Holly comes across as innocent compared to Paul, the male lead, who Axelrod reimagined as not just a struggling writer (as in the book) but one who prostitutes himself to a rich, older, married woman who leaves cash on the dresser when she leaves in the morning. That was OK with Holly and with the censors and it all ends happily. What I'd really like to see is a remake by the Coen Brothers.
Fifth Avenue 5 A.M.: Audrey Hepburn, Breakfast at Tiffany's, and The Dawn of the Modern Woman by Sam Wasson is the back story about the writing of and eventual production of Breakfast at Tiffany's. Wasson also delves into how Breakfast at Tiffany's helped shaped the modern woman and usher in the sexual revolution of the 60's. Beginning with Capote writing the short story Breakfast at Tiffany's and ending with the reception of the film version, the book chronicles the long arduous journey from short story to produced film. Fifth Avenue discusses all the ways that Breakfast at Tiffany's helped usher in the ideals that shaped a modern woman. The ideas that a woman could be in control of her own sex life, work, and be independent. Sam Wasson articulates his thoughts and points beautifully. He takes all of these fantastic bits and pieces of knowledge about the story writing, screenplay writing, costume design, lighting, character casting, just everything and molds it into a narrative that flows from beginning to end. The reader can definitely feel his love and appreciation for Tiffany's through this work. One of my favorite things about the novel are the sections about how it influenced pop culture and society. As a HUGE film fan I absolutely love reading about the power that films have to impact our lives. To read about how the film influenced modern culture and also how it's choice of leading lady helped lead a feminist revolution was awesome. I find it really interesting that a lot of modern cultural references to the empowerment of women, such as Sex and the City and 9 to 5, can trace their roots to the image of a strong and confident Holly Golightly. The way the book analyzes what made Holly Golightly such a new female is very interesting. I cannot recommend this book enough. You will not be disappointed! Kimberly (Reflections of a Book Addict)
For anyone in love with "Breakfast at Tiffany's", Audrey Hepburn and the Mean Reds, this is a dynamite, easy, fluffy read. I got it on my Kindle and read it in a matter of hours. Very interesting perspective as well.
I like this book.
Audrey Hepburn is my icon all of my fav actresses put together.I have almost all of her movies.
This book was a delight to read and learn more about Breakfast At Tiffany's and all the players involved. What I loved is getting behind the scenes of everything about the movie, how it was originally penned by Truman Capote and what happened as it became a screen play. There are so many conversations shared with the author Sam Wasson that you feel as if you walked into a master class on film history after reading his book. After finishing this today i am going to go watch Breakfast and see it with a new understanding. This is perfect for anyone who loves the movie, Audrey, or film history, and you will get so much out of it.
Fifth Avenue, 5 am, is a great little biography of the film Breakfast at Tiffany's. It's short but intriguing, and has such a charming, casual style of narration that it's impossible not to be drawn in. Even if you're not a fan of the film (I have no great love for it, in fact) it's a good peek at that specific era of history - Americana on the cusp of the modern age.
Commensurate to the movie, not the book, this is a delightful if superficial account of how Breakfast at Tiffany's came into being. The film may very well have ended up as an airhead comedy "Follow that Blonde". Fortunately for Truman Capote's blood pressure, it didn't, thanks largely to the almost accidental combination of wide-ranging talents. The supporting arts (Givenchy, Tiffany's, Mancini) to its central star in Breakfast at Tiffany's contribute mightily to its magic.Naturally, Hollywood turned Truman Capote's ambivalently bleak story into an elegant comedy that mostly airbrushed out the 1950s seedy elements of rural poverty, prostitution and organized crime. It also diverted Capote's signals of a homosexual narrator into a romantic interest. Wasson too brushes over these elements (if I remember correctly, I read in a Walt Whitman biography that then five to ten percent of female New Yorkers worked as prostitutes). He also sidetracks the one glaring misstep of the film, Mickey Rooney's blatant racist portrayal of Holly's Japanese neighbor. After this entrée or amuse-bouche account, perhaps another writer will produce a meatier treatment, this time including parts about Fifth Avenue, the then-New York party scene as well as the historic era of both the movie and the film.
Fifth Avenue, 5 A.M., by Sam Wasson, is a little book with a lot to say.The title tells you where and when shooting began on a silly-yet-pivital romantic comedy ¿ the movie version of Breakfast at Tiffany's ¿ and the book proceeds to put the whole production into the context of its time. Think late-fifties, early sixties. The world was different then. I had forgotten how different.What really interested me, though, was seeing how a story can be reimagined, and why this one had to be.First of all, if you've never read Breakfast at Tiffany's, do it now. Go ahead. Go. The rest of this can wait and I don't want to spoil anything for you ...It's stunning, don't you think, just how good Capote's comic tragedy really is. I just read it again and was astonished once more by how much feeling he was able to pack in so few pages. But the novella ¿ even though it provides most of the dialogue in the film and shows more than it tells ¿ was not well suited for the screen. Not at the time.In Fifth Avenue, 5 A.M., we learn that screenwriter George Axelrod struggled with the adaptation and nearly dispaired. This wasn't the typical Hollywood romance where Rock Hudson tries to bed Doris Day and she holds him off until they're married.The central character, Holly Golightly (Audrey Hepburn in the movie) is a Manhatten partygirl living off the largess of rich old men. Virginity isn't an issue.That was good because, we're told, Axelrod had been itching to do a truly adult comedy. It was bad because he had the Motion Picture Production Code to worry about.I watched the movie again last night and, while far from perfect, it is fascinating in its own right. Holly comes across as innocent compared to Paul, the male lead, who Axelrod reimagined as not just a struggling writer (as in the book) but one who prostitutes himself to a rich, older, married woman who leaves cash on the dresser when she leaves in the morning.That was OK with Holly and with the censors and it all ends happily.What I'd really like to see is a remake by the Coen Brothers.
Like Truman Capote himself, Wasson finds just the right mix of gossipy Old Hollywood tidbits, haute couture details, and serious drama and cultural analysis. And he puts it all together seamlessly with the style and grace that "Breakfast at Tiffany's" deserves. A great, fun summer read.
I really enjoyed this book, especially Wasson's writing style. This book could have easily gone either too expose, but Wasson weaves episodes surrounding the conception of the film, the careers of the people involved, and the effects the book had into a vivid story that makes for a very enjoyable and easy read. I also liked the feminism that he brings out in Hepburn's transformation from the princess good girl to the sophisticated actress, and the change Holly golightly had on American women.Snack Lit rating: trail mix
This was a nice, light read that gives interesting details about the background of Truman Capote and the making of Breakfast at Tiffany's.Audrey Hepburn is one of my favorite actresses and I find it interesting that she kept trying to make Holly a little less scandalous and a little more like Audrey herself. When I think of Holly, I always thought of the fashion and how regal she looks. The one thing that I've never thought about is how independent she is and how she struck out of the idea of what a woman can be and do.If you are a fan of Audrey or the movie, pick up this book.
Not nearly as informative, thoughtful or interesting as hoped. Take a pass. I've seen newspaper articles deeper than this.