For one generation, Breakfast at Tiffany's is a groundbreaking movie about an eccentric cafe society girl in New York City. For another generation, it's a semi-catchy pop song that climbed up the music charts in the mid '90s. Guess which one is celebrating its gala 50th anniversary this week. Here are some enduring memories of the film, the legacy of its stars and its place in pop culture history.
COOL RECEPTION: The 1961 movie starring Audrey Hepburn and George Peppard debuted Oct. 5 at New York's Radio City Music Hall, but faced huge competition at the box office. The Hustler debuted the week before; West Side Story came out a week after. Critics were tolerant. The New York Times review called it "a completely unbelievable but wholly captivating flight into fancy composed of unequal dollops of comedy, romance, poignancy, funny colloquialisms and Manhattan's swankiest East Side areas captured in the loveliest of colors."
BY THE BOOK: The movie gave us a happy ending that the Truman Capote novella, about a gay man in love with a call girl, didn't. She doesn't want anything to belong to her so she dumps her cat in a garbage can at the end. In the movie, she finds the cat and her leading man. Capote - who wanted Marilyn Monroe to play the lead - said it "bore as much resemblance to my work as the Rockettes do to [the Russian ballerina Galina] Ulanova."
THE FIRST SEX AND THE CITY: Like TV's That Girl, the film cast a good girl as a modern woman - pre-Woodstock, pre-birth control pills. Hepburn's Holly Golightly is the precursor to Sex and the City's Carrie Bradshaw.
MOON RIVER: Johnny Mercer (lyrics) and Henry Mancini (music) wrote the movie's signature tune - Moon River - specifically to fit Hepburn's limited vocal range. One famously bone-headed studio executive wanted to cut the song from the movie, to which Hepburn is said to have stood up at the table and said, "Over my dead body!" The song stayed in the picture and won an Oscar and a Grammy.
ONE DARK LEGACY: As beloved as the movie, actors and songs are with fans over the decades, one role continues to be controversial: Mickey Rooney as Hepburn's cranky upstairs neighbor Mr. Yunioshi. The actor's performance was branded racist by some who objected to the heavy makeup and exaggerated buck teeth. Years later, director Blake Edwards would reportedly say, "Looking back, I wish I had never done it ... and I would give anything to be able to recast it."
THE TUNE: In 1995, the rock band Deep Blue Something released a song titled Breakfast at Tiffany's. It climbed to No. 5 on the charts. The song tells the story of a couple in a failing relationship who realize the only thing they have in common is affection for the movie. Lead singer Todd Pipes said he was inspired to write this song after seeing Hepburn in Roman Holiday, but he thought Breakfast at Tiffany's would be a better title.