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Why You Should Watch Breakfast at Tiffany’s (1961) (Or Settle Less To Get More…Maybe)

Moon River, 3.5 readers. Moon River.

I wrote a review about this movie awhile back but I am too lazy to post a link to it. As lazy bloggers go, I am one of the laziest there has ever been…except for those bloggers who are so lazy they never even start blogs that are read by only 3.5 people. Those bloggers are truly the laziest.

But I digress. This movie is old but IMO, it holds up. It’s about growing up and how sometimes we have to settle for less to get more. Sometimes we have to abandon far fetched dreams in order to cling to the real success that is all around us.

Holly Golightly (Audrey Hepburn) is a Manhattan socialite, always invited to every party. Her only means of support come from a) bilking dates out of money for the washroom, because apparently in 1961 you had to pay to poop (she would run out the back door without bringing back the date’s change and/or never made change because she never pooped in the first place) and b) delivering coded messages in the form of “weather reports” between the mafia and their imprisoned in Sing Sing don, though whether she understands the gravity of what she is doing is debatable. Spoiler: She probably does.

Holly’s great dream in life is to one day be a trophy wife, to land a big fish of a husband who is rich and able to pay for all of her needs and wants and desires so she can just have fun and live a happy, carefree lifestyle.

Ironically, her new neighbor, Paul Varjak (George Peppard) is, in a way, living the life Holly has always dreamed of, though he doesn’t enjoy it. Paul is a struggling writer but has won the “patronage” of a wealthy older woman who pays for his apartment and all of his expenses, under the auspices that she is a patron of the arts and believes in Paul so much that she wants him to be able to focus on his dream of writing that great mindbending, once in a generation novel that becomes the toast of the literary world. (But really, the underlying deal is that Paul is her personal man candy and has to give her the old badoinkity doink whenever she snaps her fingers.)

SIDENOTE: If any wealthy older women want to strike up a deal like that with yours truly, I’m all ears. Your sponsorship of all my living expenses will help me focus on writing my Toilet Gator novels, to the literary world’s benefit and I mean, if you’re a 5 or higher I guess the old badoinkity doink can be arranged.

Back to the movie. As Holly and Paul become friends, they realize the love they have for one another is pure and better than anything they could hope for, yet they must find it in their hearts to give up their long held dreams in order to grasp the real love right in front of them.

This means that Holly must abandon the notion of being a rich man’s kept trophy wife. This premise becomes more and more likely as Holly’s dates become increasingly boorish, leading her to include that it is unlikely that a rich man who would be OK to marry a woman who is only in it for the money would be anything but a miserable brute who would boss her around and try to control her.

This also means that Paul will have to, horror of horrors, abandon the arrangement he has with his older grand dame, say goodbye to his hope of spending years on writing a fantastic novel, and GASP get a day job! Ack!

From there on, it’s a will they or won’t they scenario. You don’t want them to abandon their dreams, but you don’t want them to abandon their love either. Ultimately, for their love to work, they’ll both have to become 9 to 5 working stiffs and lead a middle class life. Their pie in the sky dreams will be dashed but they will have their love which is real.

So ultimately, the film is an argument for settling for less to get more and I can tell you, 3.5 readers, that I settled a long time ago and…I wish I hadn’t. I really regret it. Maybe I shouldn’t. But that’s the human condition. We grab hold of something real in lieu of something we might grab tomorrow and then rather than appreciate what we grabbed we start thinking, “Well, what if I had waited another year? Would I have gotten what I wanted?”

Maybe Paul would have written that great novel if he had just kept badoinking that old gal for another year. Maybe Holly would have one day met that rare, one in a million rich man with a heart of gold willing to be her personal ATM machine while not trying to control her comings and goings and doings.

But maybe they would have also just grown old and alone. Maybe the old rich lady would have found a younger struggling writer to patronize and kicked Paul to the curb. Maybe Holly would have never found a rich man and would have just ended up living in her apartment all alone forever.

You never know, 3.5 readers. You only know how your choices worked out. You never get to learn how the paths you didn’t take would have worked out, so try not to wallow in regret…or do. It’s a free country.

But above all else, remember to settle because it will make you happy…but also, it might not, so I guess, don’t settle and keep shooting for your dreams.

Do whatever. It rarely matters anyway. I mean, seriously, Audrey and George are long dead so nothing we do matters in the grand scheme of things. All we are is dust in the wind as the song goes.

SIDENOTE: It was fun to see George as a young man because I only knew him as Hannibal, the leader of the A Team when I was a kid. George didn’t settle for less. He went all in on his acting dreams, was the leading man in this movie and then was rewarded later in life by having to don a parachuting lizard costume in a TV show as an old man. So, it worked out for him. I assume he enjoyed it. Maybe not. He’s dead so I can’t ask him.

DOUBLE SIDENOTE: Mickey Rooney’s portrayal of Holly’s Asian neighbor is awful. I know it was 1961 but even so, you’d think one person on the set would have been like, “Dude, WTF?”

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