Holly Golightly’s New York

If a movie begins with a scene like this, with a woman in formal evening wear enjoying a Danish in front of a famous fine jewelry shop, you know it will be good. At least if you, the viewer, have a second X chromosome.

I love Breakfast at Tiffany’s. I’ve watched it more times than I can count, know all the lines by heart, and the fact that this film is now available on Netflix Instantview is not helping. One time freshman year, I was out of my dorm for an evening, and later learned that my roommate and another friend had decided to watch one of my DVDs while I was gone. I didn’t mind at all, until I learned that they stopped about 30 minutes in because they determined they didn’t like it. Naturally, I had to ask which movie that had selected. The answer? Breakfast at Tiffany’s. (As you can tell, this disagreement in opinions about this film has stuck with me for a LONG time. I wasn’t offended, I promise. Just surprised.)

I know “old” films aren’t everyone’s cup of tea, but I had a hard time understanding why two such fine young women — I love them, I really do, and they were both bridesmaids in my wedding — could not appreciate this iconic film. From Audrey Hepburn’s classic Givenchy wardrobe to Henry Mancini’s “Moon River,” I found it impossible to believe that there was not something that would have held their attention. Was Audrey not the epitome of sophistication as she brandished about her long cigarette holder and drank milk for breakfast out of a crystal wine glass? Couldn’t her innocent, doe-like eyes make you almost forget she was playing a call-girl (or as Capote categorized his famous protagonist, an “American geisha”) in this film? Isn’t Paul Varjak such a dreamboat, hacking away at his typewriter?

Makes me cry. Every. Single. Time.

Don’t you cry every time at the end of the film, not because Holly and Paul inevitably profess their love for one another, but because she finally finds Cat again?

Aren’t we all a little bit like Holly sometimes — trying so desperately to find our place in the world and at times, suffering from the “mean reds”?

…or is it just me who feels this way?

This seemingly random post is somewhat motivated by the fact that I learned the copy of Fifth Avenue, 5 a.m.: Audrey Hepburn, Breakfast at Tiffany’s, and the Dawn of the Modern Woman is finally IN TRANSIT to my local library branch. I’m so excited to learn more about this movie that I’ve already determined I’m a wee bit obsessed with (and, admittedly, a little defensive about).

The other part of my motivation has to do with the fact that while walking back to the office from my new favorite lunch hour spot (Greenacre Park, remember?), I noticed this:

This is a fountain.

Now, I know what you’re thinking: “Um, Rebecca, that is just a really ordinary fountain in front of a boring corporate building on Park Avenue.”

Wrong, so very wrong.

Ladies and gentleman, because I am a freak, I knew in my bones that it was THIS:

Look at Holly and Paul, classing up Corporate America by sitting on one of its fountains.

In another shot right before this one, you can see more of the bench pictured in the first photograph of the building. OK, so I thought I might be a *little* crazy, but I did a lot of Google Mapping and normal Googling to determine that this is the Seagram Building Plaza at Park and East 52nd, and because buildings in NYC are sooo important, they have their own websites to tell their whole history, which confirmed my suspicions that this was a filming site in Breakfast at Tiffany’s.

Now I know this film is supposed to take place on the Upper East Side, so I’m determined to see more of Holly Golightly’s New York. I’ve already been to the Tiffany & Co. on Fifth Avenue (“I’m just CRAZY about Tiffany’s!”), but I did a little online research today and learned that the facade of Holly’s brownstone, a.k.a. Chez Golightly, is located at 169 E. 71st St, between Lexington & Third. That’s not very far away from me at all! I must go and potentially creep out the current residents by taking pictures.

Here Holly and Paul are classing up the Upper East Side. Which, if you must know, is already pretty classy.

While we are on the subject of classy, old school NYC locations, allow me to subtly change topics and mention the bar where my co-workers invited me to join them at the end of my first week this past Friday for happy hour. This dark-hued bar at Third & 55th, P.J. Clarke’s, was once a favorite of Jackie O, Frank Sinatra, and Nat King Cole. No, this is not your college-type bar. This is a grown-up bar that screams class. Also, Dave Matthews of the Dave Matthews Band penned a song called “Stolen Away on 55th and 3rd,” inspired by a girl he met at P.J.’s, and Johnny Depp gifted Keith Richards a guitar here. So that’s pretty darn cool, too.

P.J. Clarke’s at night.

I honestly didn’t realize the rich history of the place until nearly a week later, when finishing up Valley of the Dolls. One of the main character’s husbands claims to have a business meeting at “P.J.’s” when he is actually having an affair. I read those two initials and thought, “P.J.’s? That can’t be the P.J’s I went to, can it?” A bit of Googling — oh, Google, what would I ever do without you? — and I learned that little bar on the corner, just two blocks from my office, has many famous patrons.

Moral of the story: Midtown New York is a lot cooler than I previously thought.

And sorry to do this, but one more screenshot from Breakfast at Tiffany’s. I am convinced that this is the most utterly perfect ending to any movie ever. Do not even mention to me that in Capote’s original novella, Paul (the anonymous narrator) is openly gay. I know, I read the book, and I’m trying to forget that little detail. That’s unimportant. Feast your eyes on some timeless Hollywood romance:

So totally and completely perfect. Modern-day rom-coms ain’t got nothing on the classic cheesiness of older films.

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1 Comment

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One response to “Holly Golightly’s New York

  1. Sheila Kozmin

    I think there’s a book in here somewhere…and what a fun book it could be to write, Rebecca. Just a thought. Sheila

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