On This Gay Day: The film ‘Breakfast at Tiffany’s’ was released

The film version of ‘Breakfast at Tiffany’s’ took out all the gay content

The film version of Breakfast at Tiffany’s was released on this day in 1961. Based a novella by Truman Capote, the film adaptation from Director Blake Edwards is very different to its source material.

While the film would go on to become one of Audrey Hepburn’s most popular films, and Holly Golightly would become one of the screens most memorable characters, the romantic comedy is also remembered for shocking racism and it’s erasure of queer references.

Set in New York the film follows the escapades of struggling writer Paul Varjak (Geprge Peppard) and his relation ship with a enigmatic neighbour, the carefree Holly Golightly. Paul is being supported by a married older woman who is described as his ‘interior decorator’, while Golightly has connections to the mob.

In the film their upstairs neighbour, Japanese man Mr Yunioshi, is played by Mickey Rooney who dons prosthetics and make-up to imitate being Asian. The portrayal was later heavily criticised as one of the most prominent examples of yellow-face in American filmmaking.

Producer Richard Shepherd, and Director Blake Edwards later both apologised for the decision to cast Rooney in the role. Prior to his death in  2014 Rooney also commented on the controversy saying if he had known at the time the performance would have considered offensive.

In Truman Capote’s original 1958 novella the story and characters are dramatically different. For one, the character known as Paul in the film doesn’t have a name, most of the story is told in flashback, and Paul’s sexuality alludes to dalliances in the broom closet with other men at his workplace.

The original story is also set in the 1940s, rather than the early 1960s. It also includes a major character called Joe Bell, a barman – who the unnamed narrator shares his tales of Holly Golightly with.

In 2009 a new stage adaptation was staged in London with Anna Friel playing the role of Golightly. In 2013 Game of Thrones star Emilia Clarke took on the lead role in another adaptation that played on Broadway. Both of these versions were closer to the source material than the film.

OIP Staff

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