Sunday, December 14, 2014

Sunday Rerun: I might write a book and call it "Breakfast at IHOP"

I believe there was an episode of "Leave It To Beaver" in which Beav and Gilbert fail to read a book as required by their teacher, preferring instead to watch a movie version of the book starring the Ritz Brothers.  Hilarity ensues when they base their book report on the movie version, and Beaver and Gilbert get bad grades, as they should have, for even thinking of watching a Ritz Bros. film.

I know it's late in the school year, but any high-schooler who turns in a book report of "Breakfast at Tiffany's," the 1958 novella by Truman Capote, after watching the 1961 movie starring Audrey Hepburn and George Peppard is going to feel like young Mr Cleaver upon getting a failing grade.

The movie should have got a failing grade as well. The original short novel features the delightful Holiday ("Holly") Golightly as what Capote called "an American geisha," who would wine and dine with well-to-do men of the upper strata of society, with an eye toward marrying one of them and landing in a sweet blueberry pie made of uppercrust.

In the movie, Holly is presented as a happy sort of diz-bang, more emphasis on the diz than the bang. The book takes care to point out that she suffered from something called the "mean reds," even worse than the blues.

Truman Capote packed a lot of living into his time on earth, which ended in August, 1984, a month before what would have been his 60th birthday.  He said he did not like the changes that the moviemakers made to "B at T," although there were no reports of him failing to cash the checks they sent him.   At the time the movie was made, it must be pointed out in his defense, he was busy in Kansas, researching the murders of a farm family of four for his 1966 book "In Cold Blood."  This was a first in American literature: a true story written as if it were a novel.  And, as is the case with the "Tiffany's" movie, the book - the masterful way he had of crafting sentences, paragraphs and pages - far exceeds the movie. The movie co-starred Robert Blake, an actor who played a guy who committed murder in the story.  Some years later, Blake stood trial for the actual murder of his wife.  He was acquitted on the murder charge but later found liable for his wife's death in a civil trial, as is the custom in California celebrity-murder sprees.

If you haven't experienced both the movie and the book versions of "Breakfast," I recommend you enjoy the movie first and then savor the book. In fact, you might want to read the book while playing the DVD of the movie, which would be a lot like having your dessert and your entrĂ©e on the same plate.

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