Audrey Hepburn as Holly Golightly may get the lion’s share of the attention, but it’s her cat that is the true star of Breakfast at Tiffany’s, a Major Cat Movie. I’m not the only one to think so; Alex de Costa wrote on YouTube, “Obviously the cat was the best part of Breakfast at Tiffany’s, so I took the trouble of editing out every scene without him.” Unfortunately Paramount, as is their wont, has blocked the results – Breakfast Cat Tiffany’s – on copyright grounds. Spoilsports.
But the results (a little over six and a half minutes, plus a lot more miaowing than you might remember) were a vast improvement on Blake Edwards’s film, especially since they excise Mickey Rooney’s embarrassing performance as Holly’s Japanese neighbour, Mr Yunioshi. They do nothing, however, to improve the frankly unconvincing ending, in which Holly and George Peppard as the Truman Capote substitute (the narrator’s voice in the novella) embrace ecstatically in the rain, all but crushing the poor sodden pussy between them.
The cat is referred to throughout the film as simply, “Cat”. “Poor slob! Poor slob without a name!” He might not have a name, but he’s a thumping great CATAPHOR, one that is bludgeoned home not just in the film but also in Capote’s original text, some of which is quoted verbatim in the film’s dialogue.
“Poor slob,” she said, tickling his head, “poor slob without a name. It’s a little inconvenient, his not having a name. But I haven’t any right to give him one: he’ll have to wait until he belongs to somebody. We just sort of took up by the river one day, we don’t belong to each other: he’s an independent, and so am I.”
And then, a little later on in the movie, when we find out more about Holly’s origins…
“I’m not Holly. I’m not Lulu Mae, either. I don’t know who I am! I’m like the cat here, a no-name slob. We belong to nobody, and nobody belongs to us. We don’t even belong to each other.”
Yes, yes, all right, we get it. You’re no-name slobs. You belong to nobody, and nobody belongs to you. Enough already.
Rather less obvious is the identity of the cat playing Cat. In the opening credits, he’s billed simply as “Cat” (with a nod to his trainer, Frank Inn). On imdb he’s credited as “Putney”; but elsewhere on imdb, a marmalade cat called Orangey, star (billed as Rhubarb) of The Comedy of Terrors) is described as having won a P.A.T.S.Y. (Picture Animal Top Star of the Year, the animal equivalent of the Oscar) for Breakfast at Tiffany’s. The same cat was also credited, elsewhere, as “Jimmy” and “Minerva”.
The truth, one suspects, is that multiple lookalikes were used, as is invariably the practise when filming animals (it’s mentioned elsewhere in imdb.com, evidently given to contradicting itself, that around nine different cats were used). However, when the cat plays as big a role in the film as does Cat in Breakfast at Tiffany’s, it serves publicity purposes to preserve the illusion that the performance is the work of a single feline, rather than a small army of doppelmoggies.
And it’s pretty obvious that at least one, and perhaps all, of these cats have been declawed. Just look at that picture at the top of the page; do you really think Paramount Pictures would have let unsheathed claws anywhere near the naked back of its $750,000 star?
- Map with locations from Mad Men (brandsandfilms.com)
- Audrey Hepburn Breakfast at Tiffany’s Hairstyle (queenkherwin.wordpress.com)