Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Capote's Holly Golightly

I was too young to see “Breakfast at Tiffany’s” when the film came out in 1961. My mother loved the film and bought the soundtrack album. It spun often on our Hi-Fi in the dining room, that great music by Henry Mancini. I finally saw the film in 1966. That was the year Capote’s book, “In Cold Blood” hit the bestseller list. Finding the book in library, I picked up a copy of “Breakfast at Tiffany’s”, too. A shorter book.

Capote’s Holly Golightly really intrigued me at the age of 13. Her wild ways seemed a stark contrast to the confused and delicate Audrey version of Holly. The story had edge. There was no Crackerjack ring engraving film scene at Tiffany’s. The narrator buys Holly a St. Christopher’s medal at Tiffany’s for Holly in Truman’s story. Holly dumps cat but doesn’t go back in the rain. There is no last screen kiss. The narrator finds Cat in Harlem, seeing him content on a windowsill, now probably with a name. Holly travels, with her St. Chris’ medal, to places unknown, leaving rumors like some legend. And this is a reminiscence by the narrator of a time in 1943…during World War II when the world was in a bit of a mess.

I recently saw a restored print of the film with my daughter. It’s her favorite film too but not because her grandmother loved it. She liked it because of many reasons. This was the first time she saw it on a big screen. We both cried and laughed. We cried at the part when Holly gets the news that her brother Fred died. That hit close to home. We laughed during the cocktail party when the tall lady passes out and Holly yells “timber!”. The print, fresh and clear, added to the fresh clear classic quality of the experience.

But the real Holly is my favorite. She reminds me of Holden Caulfield, and Holden reminds me of my son. The film’s Holly will always remind me of my daughter. And that day, watching the film with her on the huge screen, with the beautiful Mancini music, the song Moon River, the song my daughter chose as her Daddy dance at her wedding, a complete surprise, a song that reminds me of her and her brother so much, that whole package of story and book, is something amazingly undefined to me but art that is so central to me.

And around my neck I still wear the St. Christopher’s medal that both of them gave to me for Christmas in 1990, engraved, “La Lu, Jens&Sean…my Huckleberry friends, Moon River and me…


  1. Sweet, Tom. Lovely memories of special people. Excellent writing.