Truman Capote (1924-1984) was an acclaimed writer who was best known for ‘Breakfast at Tiffany’s’ published in 1958 and ‘In Cold Blood’ published in 1966. The character of Holly Golightly in Truman Capote’s Breakfast at Tiffany’s is said to have been modeled after Dorian Leigh Parker. Dorian became the first Revlon Girl and the star model of the 1952 ‘Fire and Ice’ campaign which featured a full page quiz that asked if you were made for Fire and Ice. Truman Capote became fascinated with her, and was a frequent visitor to her New York apartment. He learned how to gain entry through the fire escape, and she would come home to find him playing with her cats. Capote coined a nickname for her, ‘Happygo- lucky’, and inside his head a character began to form about a woman with a more than liberal take on the rules of life.
In the movie Breakfast at Tiffany’s which came out in 1961, Audrey Hepburn is down on her luck and she takes a cab to Tiffany’s to look at the window displays, because it calms her down and she feels that nothing very bad can happen to her while she is there. The block is empty of all other people, as it is the crack of dawn and she has had a long night of revelry. Wearing a black ball gown with matching gloves, an elaborate oversized sunglasses, and several lush strands of pearls, she gets out of a cab, carrying a small white paper bag, and walks up to one of the windows displaying jewelry. Barely taking her eyes off the diamonds, she opens the bag and removes a cup of coffee and a pastry, which she bites into.
Breakfast at Tiffany’s was a remarkable book, and risqué for the 1950s and Holly is a single girl living in New York City who wants to become an actress. Holly Golightly seems like a carefree spirit, but she is a runaway hillbilly child bride who is too damaged to have a deep emotional connection with anyone but her brother. She charges men for conversation and asks for powder room tip money, and they follow her home begging for sex. She picks the richest man she can find and charms him into submission. Holly is the embodiment of being charming, the elusive woman that every single girl imagines herself to be, having no compunction about mentioning her adventures in bed, and she lacks any guilt about stealing a friend’s man. In both the book and the film, a young lonely writer stumbles into a friendship with a charming young woman of questionable morality, who lives downstairs. The want-to-be writer and the want-to-be actress accompany each other merrily for a while as they each strive independently to achieve professional success, they are both seeking the proverbial gold pot at the end of the rainbow. The writer learns of her dubious activities, her carrying weather reports for a convicted mobster, taking $50 trips to the powder room, and stealing away the future president of Brazil from her friend. Through this path our narrator also comes across the likeable Doc Golightly and learns of Holly’s true past as Lulamae Barnes.
In both versions Holly’s teetering life finally comes crumbling down with help from a poorly-timed telegraph and an even more poorly-timed arrest. The difference between the book and the movie takes place at the end, where Holly has second thoughts and goes back and looks for the cat that she abandoned and the movie gets a happy ending with a kiss from the writer. In the book the cat is gone forever and there is no romantic ending, because of the sexual orientation of Truman Capote and at this time gay people were largely invisible.
The music arrangement was composed by Henry Mancini and Johnny Mercer wrote the lyrics for Moon River and they were inspired by a river that ran near his family’s summer home, the Vernon River. However, Vernon is not a very lyrical name, so Johnny pulled out a map of the region and found a ‘Moon River’ north of Savannah in Bluffton, South Carolina. The lyrics were based on his idyllic childhood in Savannah, summering on the coast and picking huckleberries with his cousin on the banks of the Vernon River his ‘ huckleberry friend’. He dreamed of his future life and how he would leave his home and river ‘old dream maker, you heart breaker’, but regardless of how far he goes, he has the same goal as that river ‘Wherever you’re going, I’m goin’ your way’ and ‘We’re after the same Rainbow’s end’. He left that sweet, simple life for a life in show biz, living in New York and Hollywood and his cousin also left to pursue a career being the ‘two drifters’ in this song. Upon his return to Savannah after his success, he drove across the bridge in his brand new Buick ‘crossing you in style someday’, fulfilling his dream.
Moon River gives the listener a look into the past and the future, as the river represents time and a journey for two drifters from start to finish. It’s about life and their hopes to venture through a world that they can’t see. The river is flowing round the bend into the unseen future, while the singer and his friend are excited to be going on the journey of life together. Some of Mercer’s other songs include, Accentuate the Positive, Days Of Wine and Roses, Fools Rush In, I’m An Old Cowhand (From the Rio Grande), In The Cool, Cool, Cool Of The Evening, Jeepers Creepers, One For My Baby (And One More For The Road, That Old Black Magic and You Must Have Been A Beautiful Baby.
Written for Mindlovemisery’s Menagerie Music Challenge #32 ‘Moon River’.