The author Sam Wasson has written a wonderful new book, a commentary on social mores of the 1960s that resonate to this day.
In Fifth Avenue 5 A.M., Wasson links the iconic 1961 film Breakfast at Tiffany’s to Hollywood’s depiction of the evolution of the modern urban woman.Fifth Avenue is full of little-known and amusing anecdotes about its star, Audrey Hepburn, other cast members, its writer and director, and even songwriters Henry Mancini and Johnny Mercer. It is veritable treasure trove for a diehard movie fan. But it may be hard for fans of the film today to grasp just how controversial it was for its time.The film was based on Truman Capote’s brilliant, but much grittier, tale of New York call girl Holly Golightly. Truman said she was inspired by several of his favourite ladies. It is widely known that he wanted Marilyn Monroe, not Audrey Hepburn, to play Holly.Wasson tells how Hollywood’s princess Audrey – for she had won the Oscar for Roman Holiday as Princess Ann – was cast to elevate Holly Golightly from “call girl” to “party girl”.New York Times’ columnist Maureen Dowd recently wrote about the book: “Back in the early ’60s, Holly was the woman we wanted to be. The slender and stylish New York beauty was supported by men, yet she seemed free.”‘Breakfast at Tiffany’s’ was cool because of its modern glamour, ushering in a sexy future. ‘Mad Men’ is cool because of its retro glamour, recalling a sexy past.”Fans of the film and fashionistas will be intrigued to learn the story behind Holly’s gorgeous costumes. I thoroughly enjoyed reading all about how she met her lifelong friend Hubert de Givenchy.What struck me is how hard Hollywood strove to make the film acceptable, to whitewash Holly and what she did for a living. They even had to give the film a happy ending in which she finds her cat and settles down with her lover.I love a happy ending. I adore Breakfast at Tiffany’s; it is one of my favourite films. I love the look of it. But I wouldn’t want to live it – not for a minute.Many people see Breakfast at Tiffany’s as a lovely, romantic, but dated period piece. But many women remain fascinated by Holly and her style. She is lovely to look and captivatingly charming. Still, I’m not sure women have advanced that much in the area of love. When it comes to work we have made tremendous progress, but when it comes to finding love and romance, women may be worse off.Too many women have given up their power and lowered their standards when it comes to men. They tolerate men who don’t pick them up for dates, don’t treat them like ladies, and just string them along. And darlings, I don’t just mean young women. Women old enough to know better put up with this nonsense too. In some cases they have neglected their personal lives for their careers, and now are desperate for marriage or motherhood. In other cases, they just accept bad behavior from men “because that’s how it is now”. They are treated as poorly as Holly by her dates, men who tear her dresses and give her $50 for trips to the powder room.I keep hearing about women waiting for texts from men who run hot and cold. Women complain about late night booty-calls on Facebook and Myspace, but they go along with it. Then there are the women who go out to dinner together and keep their phones on, trawling for texts and IM (instant messages) – from men.I don’t understand why women put up with it. Men like to text because it keeps women at a distance. They use it to avoid communication. So why to do women agree to play this loser’s game? The same goes for Facebook and the rest of them. If you refuse to text and restrict your Facebook, you can avoid a lot of craziness from the start. Then men have a simple choice: they can call you or not. They can take you out or not. Believe me darlings; if a man is attracted to you, he will pursue you. It is that simple.The same goes for sex. Women feel pressure to have sex to keep a man interested. Trust me darlings, having sex too soon is the easiest way to lose him. A woman never trapped a man by giving in. Men like to do the chasing – at least most of them do.Breakfast at Tiffany’s was so successful because Audrey elevated Holly. Would we have loved Holly so much if she was a hard-bitten, blowsy hooker? I don’t think so. No darlings, Audrey made her a princess and that is what everyone – men and women – wanted. Holly/Audrey was kind, funny, refined and anything but easy to get. Everyone woman needs a little princess in her to be truly confident and attractiveIf you’re in a slump or depressed about your relationships, why not raise your standards? Enhance your allure by becoming a bit more aloof. Channel your inner Audrey. When things get tricky, ask yourself what would Audrey do?