It’s pre-dawn on 5th Avenue. The normally bustling shopping thoroughfare is improbably empty. As the morning sun peaks over the horizon, a vision in black emerges from the backseat of a cab. This vision will soon become my huckleberry friend.
Audrey Hepburn gazes longingly up at the name “TIFFANY’S” inscribed in the polished marble. She is in a stunning Givenchy black gown, upswept hair, black arm gloves, five strands of pearls, and sunglasses. We are witnessing the birth of a 1960s icon of glamour and elegance.
The main titles for BREAKFAST AT TIFFANY’S (1961) contain one of the most famous openings of any film. The visuals tell us everything we need to know about Hepburn’s Holly Golightly. She is a woman of impeccable—and expensive—taste. Yet Mancini’s heartbreaking melody plays against that image. The jewels hide a deeper pain underneath.
A gently strumming orchestra and a barely audible chorus back the plaintive sound of a harmonica playing Henry Mancini’s classic melody for “Moon River.” The tune’s gentle strains set the proper elegiac tone for this simple, and somehow lonely, scene. We haven’t heard Johnny Mercer’s famous lyrics yet. It all relies on Mancin’s music.
No one but Hepburn could make a Danish and coffee seem like breakfast at the Four Seasons. And no one but Mancini could tell the emotional story behind that simple meal with such understated grace.