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Quel rat! Has it really been fifty years since Holly Golightly enjoyed her morning sweet roll and steaming cup of Schraft's coffee in front of America's jewelry store? Actually, they should have called it Dinner at Tifanny's as our heroine is returning from a hard night's work, not waking to greet the dawn.

Fifty years ago today, Breakfast at Tiffany's held its New York premier, and Audrey Hepburn's career would never be the same. It's amazing what a tiara, cigarette holder, pair of oversized sunglasses, and little black dress can do for a woman's Q factor.

The film and its star also became enduring style-setters. To this day, Hepburn's image remains a strong, marketable commodity, right up there with fellow celebrity icons Marilyn Monroe, James Dean, and Betty Boop.

Why Tiffany's is remembered as a comedy is beyond me. Sure, there is the legendary party sequence, and Mickey Rooney's lame attempts to stir up laughs with his buck-toothed, stereotypical portrait of an Asian landlord, but for the most part, Tiffany's is a maximum downer. As a child, I asked mom why men paid the pretty lady money to go to the bathroom. Holly is a ditzy child-bride, married to the mob, and quick to turn a trick for profit. Varjack is a closeted stud being kept by the marvelously mannish Patricia Neal. (LIFE Magazine was right to call it, "The gayest sophisticated comedy Hollywood has served up in years.") To further liven things up, there's a dead brother, a suicide attempt, and cat abuse!

It's the star's luminous performance that tricks our memory into forever pegging Holly as a "hilarious heroine" and "delightful darling," instead of your typical depressive Madison Ave. Mary. I can't bring myself to watch it since Ms. Hepburn died and have no intention of paying a return visit to commemorate its golden milestone. I got it the first 30 times. Happy anniversary, Holly!

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Original half-sheet poster art.

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Director Blake Edwards.

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George Peppard and Audrey Hepburn.

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Audrey Hepburn and George Peppard.

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Patricia Neal (as 'the beard'), Audrey Hepburn and George Peppard.

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Jose Luis de Vilallonga and Audrey Hepburn. She'd have been better off with Buddy Ebsen than this stiff.

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Blake Edwards seeks divine inspiration on how to handle a Vilallonga.

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Audrey Hepburn and George Peppard.

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John McGiver, Audrey Hepburn, and George Peppard at Tiffany's.

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Proof that nothing is perfect.

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George Peppard and Audrey Hepburn.

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Audrey Hepburn and George Peppard.

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The Daytona Beach Morning Journal. October 24, 1961.

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The Daytona Beach Morning Journal. October 25, 1961.

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The Toldeo Blade. December 31, 1961.

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The Toldeo Blade. January 1, 1962.

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What woman can resist the charms of Rusty Trawler?

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Holly!

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[All photos courtesy the Marks and Elliott Archives.]

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Comments

Joaquin_de_la_Mesa Oct. 5, 2011 @ 10:29 a.m.

Kind of a steaming pile, wasn't it?

I have to give credit to Audrey H. for creating an iconic look, I guess. But Peppard is stiffer than Al Gore, and Mickey Rooney nearly single-handedly destroys the whole thing. And none of it is what you'd call well-written.

Am I just being cranky this morning?

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Scott Marks Oct. 5, 2011 @ 10:41 a.m.

Peppard was perfect for the role, and he's a fine actor. You also have Buddy Ebsen's career-defining moment (not that "Hillbilly" Jed), Mancini's lovely score, Franz Planer's sparkling Technicolor cinematography, Blake Edwards' ever-looming sense of sadism, and Frank Inn's "Cat," my personal answer to Lassie. And Audrey. That's more than enough to compensate for Rooney's transposed "L's" and "R's."

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Joaquin_de_la_Mesa Oct. 5, 2011 @ 11:09 a.m.

I guess I shouldn't have commented on a movie I haven't seen in 20 years. I can't even remember Buddy Ebsen. Sounds like a trip to Kensington Video.

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MattDW Oct. 5, 2011 @ 11:33 a.m.

Great images, Scott. I was lucky enough to see this onscreen again recently and it struck me how a classic can have so many strikes against it.

There was laughter at Mickey Rooney, but I think it was a kind of amazed laughter, like "I can't believe how offensive and desperate to please this guy is." Hell, Jerry Lewis did Asian characters with more decency.

Patricia Neal is fantastic in this, particularly the scene where she figures out Peppard has a girl and is totally nonplussed about it.

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Colonna Oct. 5, 2011 @ 12:43 p.m.

I've seen "Breakfast" twice and I agree there's a lot against this film. But the sheer power of Audrey and her image have won over the hearts and minds of many moviegoers.

i.e. "Moon River". I hate, hate, HATE that song - a special place awaits Andy Williams in hell for warbling that tune ad nauseum. However, when Audrey sings (with her real singing voice - no thank you Marni Nixon), it's captivating.

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