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  • Writer's pictureladiesvoices

*Breakfast at Tiffany's*, 5/12/17

Richard and I saw a screening of *Breakfast at Tiffany's* on 5/12/17, with the score played live by the New York Philharmonic. They do this cool thing where they remove the music from a film but keep all the dialogue and other sounds, then the orchestra plays the score live, perfectly timed to the movie. They did it with *E. T.* this spring, and with *Manhattan* last fall, also with *West Side Story*, though I don't see how they were able to tune the orchestra to the singers in the movie. Not my problem. I was excited to hear that they were doing this with *Breakfast at Tiffany's* and bought the tickets ages ago, last fall. I'd been looking forward to this for a long time.

I love the movie, but more importantly, love the score. Mancini doesn't get the credit he deserves, he's really one of the masters of movie music. His music stands beautifully on its own but of course has so much more impact in the context of the movie.

I've been breaking a few personal records lately, and broke one that night: I was in tears within the first five seconds! Richard, of course, was laughing at me, dear boy. Just hearing the NY Phil play that gorgeous, wistful music, the harp, the strings, and especially the harmonica playing "Moon River" - - and then Audrey Hepburn stepping out of the cab in that gorgeous Givenchy gown, with the jewels and the sunglasses and the upswept 'do... I was a goner!

The audience applauded when Mancini's name came up on the screen, which led to more tears. My favorite moment of the performance was early in the movie: George Peppard is in Hepburn's apartment, he's just moving into the building and has asked to use her phone. She's talking about having the "mean old reds" and she goes over to the record player. The flips a switch, the record drops down onto the turntable - - and the New York Philharmonic is playing the music, right there, on the stage! Indescribable magic! I mentioned this to Richard at the intermission, and he said, "Didn't you have a turntable like that when you were a kid?" I said, "Not that played the New York Philharmonic live in the room, no!"

I was surprised, at first, that they had subtitles. I didn't understand why they did that, we could hear the dialogue fine. But then, in the first party scene, I understood why: you really can't hear the dialogue when the orchestra is playing full tilt boogie. You can turn the volume down in the mixing booth, but you can't really turn down the NY Phil! But that didn't bother me, it was thrill to hear them play that groovy jazz with such relish. I was tickled that the instrumental solos were improvised, or at least freshly made - - they didn't recreate what was done on the soundtrack.

The movie holds up really well. Hepburn, of course, is fantastic, one of the best roles of her career. I was struck by how great Peppard is. He puts across the handsome young leading man, but gives something more, too, he's really wonderful. Buddy Ebsen is touching as Doc, and what a treat that they cast Patricia Neal as Peppard's sugar mama (but what were they thinking with that red hair). Mickey Rooney wasn't too much of an embarrassment as Mr. Yunioshi, and just as I expected, they had a little disclaimer in the program about his performance being racially insensitive.

My second favorite moment was the interaction between Hepburn, Peppard, and John McGiver, playing the clerk at Tiffany's. They're all so articulate and well-mannered and sweet, McGiver in particular. This was one of those moments that gained a lot in the setting - - not with the music (because there was no music), but seeing it in a big group of people. I've seen this movie probably 20 times, but it was a different experience seeing it with an audience, hearing them laugh.

I'm seeing episodes four through seven of the *Star Wars* series (*A New Hope*, *The Empire Strikes Back*, *Return of the Jedi*, and *The Force Awakens*) at the NY Phil next fall. I'm even more hopped up about it now.

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