Fifth Avenue, 5 A.M.: Audrey Hepburn, Breakfast at Tiffany's, and the Dawn of the Modern Woman by Sam Wasson 
submitted by Debbe

My first introduction to Truman Capote was after he wrote In Cold Blood , a novel based on the true story of a Kansas family’s tragic murders. I was a teenager and Capote was a regular guest on NBC’s Tonight show. I found his talk show banter irresistible and was the perfect age to delve into what Capote himself called “a nonfiction novel.’ I read the book and then a year or two later saw the film.

Since then I have seen Capote , Philip Seymour Hoffman’s Academy Award winning depiction of the years Capote spent researching and writing In Cold Blood , and I’ve read Capote in Kansas: a ghost story by Kim Powers, a fictional work depicting the end of Capote’s life and how In Cold Blood haunted him.

Recently I read a copy of Fifth Avenue, 5 A.M.: Audrey Hepburn, Breakfast at Tiffany's, and the Dawn of the Modern Woman by Sam Wasson. I was too young to read Capote’s novel Breakfast at Tiffany’s when it was first published and it wasn’t until about 10 years ago I saw the movie. The focus of Wasson’s book is on Capote’s writing of Breakfast at Tiffany’s and its adaption to the big screen. The author followed the entire process from the formation by Capote of the idea that spawned the novel until moviegoers saw the finished product.

Personalities involved in the movie production are giants in film history: film director, Blake Edwards; screenwriter, George Axelrod; costumer, Edith Head; composer, Henry Mancini; lyricist, Johnny Mercer; and actors Hepburn, George Peppard, Buddy Ebsen, Patrician Neal and Mickey Rooney, to name a few. The process of screenwriting, casting, costuming and the coming together of Mancini and Mercer to compose Moon River, the movie’s theme, is both informative and entertaining. Wasson explains why Capote’s novel was significantly changed; to accommodate the “morals” of the time; and how the selection of Audrey Hepburn to play the role of Holly Golightly was instrumental in the successful adaption. Capote’s novel would not have made it passed the censors of the time but the selection of Hepburn allowed more flexibility. Capote’s choice of Marilyn Monroe might have been less “suitable.”

Reading the Wasson book, spurred me to read Breakfast at Tiffany’s , watch the movie again and listen to the soundtrack, allowing me to experience them with an understanding of the process which created them. All books, DVDs and CDs are available at the library.


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