Scene It: Audrey Hepburn and Breakfast at Tiffany’s

Audrey Hepburn sings Moon River; image courtesy of victoriaegs.blogspot.com

Audrey Hepburn sings "Moon River"; image courtesy of victoriaegs.blogspot.com

I started Jeff Smith’s The Sounds of Commerce: Marketing Popular Film Music, which is one of the first and best regarded books on the use of popular music in contemporary film. It also has a pretty sweet cover.

Thinking about Breakfast at Tiffany’s and Audrey Hepburn’s performance of the movie’s theme, Henry Mancini’s “Moon River,” I felt like I had to post the scene and see if it would generate any discussion (keeping in mind, of course, that I’ve only read as far as the intro and haven’t gotten to Smith’s chapter on the movie yet).  

I for one think it’s particularly important to note that Hepburn is singing and strumming the guitar, creating a sense of authenticity (however tenuous) that many argued was missing from her performance as Eliza Doolittle in My Fair Lady three years later. It was widely reported that Marni Nixon filled in for Hepburn’s musical numbers in the film adaptation of the blockbuster musical. Many speculated that the use of dubbing cost Hepburn the Oscar, while perhaps also quick to remind that Julie Andrews didn’t need a vocal stand-in when she performed the role on Broadway.

But here, Hepburn is clearly singing and playing her acoustic guitar, perhaps further blurring the line between where she stops and the iconic Holly Golightly begins.

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3 comments

  1. c8ic8

    And don’t forget, Julie Andrews beat out Audrey Hepburn for the Oscar that year with her performance as Mary Poppins. This supports your contention that the Academy was making a statement when they snubbed Hepburn.

  2. Pingback: A Serious Man: Sound and the Coen Bros. « Dark Room

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