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Fifth Avenue, 5 A.M.: Audrey Hepburn, Breakfast at Tiffany's, and The Dawn of the Modern Woman [Kindle Edition]

Sam Wasson
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (104 customer reviews)

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Book Description

“Reads like carefully crafted fiction…[Wasson] carries the reader from pre-production to on-set feuds and conflicts, while also noting Hepburn’s impact on fashion (Givenchy’s little black dress), Hollywood glamour, sexual politics, and the new morality. Capote would have been entranced.” — Publishers Weekly (starred review)

“Sam Wasson’s exquisite portrait of Audrey Hepburn peels backs her sweet facade to reveal a much more complicated and interesting woman. He also captures a fascinating turning point in American history— when women started to loosen their pearls, and their inhibitions. I devoured this book.” — Karen Abbott, author of Sin in the Second City

Fifth Avenue, 5 A.M. by Sam Wasson is the first ever complete account of the making of Breakfast at Tiffany’s. With a cast of characters including Truman Capote, Edith Head, director Blake Edwards, and, of course, Hepburn herself, Wasson immerses us in the America of the late fifties, before Woodstock and birth control, when a not-so-virginal girl by the name of Holly Golightly raised eyebrows across the nation, changing fashion, film, and sex, for good. With delicious prose and considerable wit, Wasson delivers us from the penthouses of the Upper East Side to the pools of Beverly Hills presenting Breakfast at Tiffany’s as we have never seen it before—through the eyes of those who made it.

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. Wasson, who wrote on the career of writer-director Blake Edwards in A Splurch in the Kisser, tightens his focus for a closeup of Edwards's memorable Breakfast at Tiffany's, which received five Oscar nominations (with two wins). Interviewing Edwards and others, he skillfully interweaves key events during the making of this cinema classic. He begins (and ends) with Truman Capote, whose novel was initially regarded as unadaptable by the producers, since they hadn't the faintest idea how the hell they were going to take a novel with no second act, a nameless gay protagonist, a motiveless drama, and an unhappy ending and turn it into a Hollywood movie. The flow of Wasson's words carries the reader from pre-production to on-set feuds and conflicts, while also noting Hepburn's impact on fashion (Givenchy's little black dress), Hollywood glamour, sexual politics, and the new morality. Always stingy with praise, Capote dismissed the finished film as a mawkish valentine to New York City, but one feels he would have been entranced by Wasson's prismatic approach as he walks a perilous path between the analytic interpretation and the imaginative one. The result deserves Capote's nonfiction novel label. Recapturing an era, this evocative factual re-creation reads like carefully crafted fiction. (June)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.


“Wasson’s story is part encyclopedia, part valentine, and worth reading just to find out what exactly went into making the amazing party scene.”

Product Details

  • File Size: 913 KB
  • Print Length: 267 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 0061774154
  • Publisher: HarperCollins e-books; Reprint edition (June 22, 2010)
  • Sold by: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B003MVZ89W
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #103,937 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
82 of 85 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Awesomeness of Audrey June 22, 2010
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Sam Wasson's just-released and delightful book on the making of "Breakfast at Tiffany's" is so chock-full of great anecdotes that you're sorry when it's over. For awhile, you are there - a privileged insider-witness to a marvelous bygone moment in moviemaking history - and it's with a feeling of bittersweet regret that you step from its closing pages back into a realm of noisy 3D sequels and superfluous comic book franchises. Everything you'd want to know and more is delivered in the book, from the reader's coverage producer Marty Jurow was first handed, re: adapting Capote's book for the screen ("In any event this is more of a character sketch than a story. NOT RECOMMENDED") to the guest list for the post-premiere party (including such unlikely elbow-rubbers as Dennis Hopper, Buster Keaton, Charles Laughton, and Jane Mansfield).

A delicious through-line in the book is how close the movie came to not coming out so well as it did, with such jaw-droppers as everyone's resistance to having Henry Mancini write a song for the thing (eventual collaborator Johnny Mercer's original lyric, we learn, one of three eventually presented to Mancini, was called "Blue River"). An intimate exploration of the myriad personalities in conflict and collusion when a casual classic is being created, the book is cannily adept at detailing the logic of the so many minute decisions that lead to what we now accept as inevitable. Of course Audrey Hepburn played Holly Golightly, you think, until you hear how hard Capote lobbied for Marilyn Monroe.

Wasson is a formidable researcher. He doesn't so much know where the bodies are buried as he knows where the hearts and minds are hidden.
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34 of 36 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Audrey Hepburn, not Tawdry Hepburn June 28, 2010
When Paramount was gearing up to release "Breakfast at Tiffany's," a film that would go on to usher in an entirely new and more authentic depiction of women on screen (even if it had still had a long way to go), they had to be careful. Audrey Hepburn, the darling of such films as "Roman Holiday" (which won her an Oscar) and "Sabrina," was very conscious of her public image. Unlike other stars who carefully constructed their images, Audrey was essentially the kind woman she was perceived by the public to be. Hepburn, who could sometimes be found knitting on set, didn't want that reputation tarnished. So, unsurprisingly, Hepburn nearly turned the role of the free spirited good time girl Holly Golightly, the film she is most remembered for today.

And therein lies the crux of Sam Wasson's masterful book on the making Breakfast at "Tiffany's" and its cultural significance. At this time in film history it wasn't okay to play this type of character. On screen good girls were good and bad girls were bad. There was no gray area. But "Tiffany's" would change all that, and show the world that not only did this gray area indeed exist, but it was a hell of a lot of fun to be single and sexually liberated woman--even if you were just playing one.

Golightly, as it turns out, was an amalgam of so many of the society ladies that Truman Capote (the author of the original novella on which the film is based on) knew and socialized with, but it was Babe Paley and Capote's own mother, Nina, who most pervaded the character of Holly.

This slim volume (coming in at just over 200 pages) is also a history of Hollywood during the mid 1950s and through the filming of "Tiffany's.
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20 of 21 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars More fun than wearing a tiara from Tiffany's... June 22, 2010
After all the critical praise I've read, I have to admit, I had high expectations for Fifth Avenue, 5 AM, but this gem of a book actually managed to exceed them. (When does that ever happen?)
I think that's due, in part, to the way Wasson deftly weaves together the full story of the making of the movie, a social history of the era, Audrey, Capote, Edith Head, Paramount, et al. The end result is a sparkling tapestry of considerable heft -- substance and FUN. Peter Bogdanovich (famed director of Paper Moon & The Last Picture Show) asserted "it reads like a compulsively page-turning novel" and I couldn't agree more. I devoured it. But I also picked up quite a bit of new info along the way--about Audrey, about the film, the era, fashion, and the genesis of the now prevalent `single girl' phenomenon. Wasson's prose is delightful--rich and alive. This book belongs at your bedside table, in your beach bag and maybe even selected as next month's read for your book club.
Really, I thought it was fantastic.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars I'll Take Manhattan July 11, 2010
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
"Breakfast at Tiffanys" was one of many 60s-era movies that added to my own zeal to move to New York immediately after art school, and begin living the Big City Life. Inspired by the details of movies like "Tiffany", "Sweet Smell of Success", "The Apartment", etc I could not wait to be part of the population, hailing Checker cabs, sitting on my fire escape reading the voluminous Sunday Times, taking in Broadway shows, and going to coffee houses in The Village. All of this was possible in 1967, even on an Art Trainee's salary; and one could easily find "a roomate, a job, and an apartment" in a day. At least, that is what I remember.
I would like to propose that the real star of "Tiffanys" is.....alas, Manhattan. Thanks to Wasson's book, I note that actual film work in the City was limited -- and then the whole party shifted to the back lots of Hollywood (WHY had I not expected that, all along?).....but, the viewer is left feeling that Holly and her band of kooks has given them a sneak preview of the most marvelous place in the world. And we all wanted to come, asap. At least, I did, and have never regretted the decision, even 43 years later.
So, although I am a fan of Audrey's, and Blake's, and Truman's, I came away from this fun book, realizing that New York City was the social game-changer -- not "Breakfast at Tiffanys". Afterall, the City gave us "newcomers right off the bus" a place to shape-shift, reinvent, become our most creative selves, play-act and try on different roles (graphic artist? fashion illustrator?
window dresser?) -- while providing the perfect "movie set" backdrop of teeming Times Square, towering sky scrapers, ethnic neighborhoods, brownstones/townhouses/studios, and the most fascinating population EVER.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
3.0 out of 5 stars Three Stars
somewhat disappointing
Published 17 days ago by Lamont
5.0 out of 5 stars good read
Highly enjoyable - a great look at what was happening in the 50s and 60s, beyond the making of the movie.
Published 1 month ago by kmac
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Love it!
Published 1 month ago by Kathy Y.
5.0 out of 5 stars A wonderful read. If you're at all an Audrey Hepburn ...
A wonderful read. If you're at all an Audrey Hepburn fan you'll enjoy this.
Published 2 months ago by AnnieMac
4.0 out of 5 stars This was a delightful telling of the making and the ...
This was a delightful telling of the making and the impact of Breakfast at Tiffany's. I had no idea that was the advent of the little black dress, for example - or the trials and... Read more
Published 2 months ago by MARGARET FOSS
3.0 out of 5 stars Three Stars
Great bargain!
Published 2 months ago by Shona Davis
4.0 out of 5 stars Entertaining for Audrey fans
Interesting that George Peppard was so obnoxious and to read about the big dollars spent on clothes for the movie.
Published 4 months ago by SMTB
3.0 out of 5 stars Lousy start, then picks up a bit...
This book was on the "I should've just rented it" list in my book. The start of the book was rough and somewhat uninteresting. Read more
Published 5 months ago by K.Dub
4.0 out of 5 stars Great Book That Examines the Making of This Movie and The Era it Came...
If you are a fan of the movie Breakfast at Tiffany's you will enjoy this book a lot. It goes behind the scenes and examines the time and place the movie was made in. Read more
Published 5 months ago by Debbie
3.0 out of 5 stars Engineering of the decline of morals in our country.
If you're looking to know more about the business of making movies, this story will enlighten you. I was bored by a lot of it but found the descriptions of the morays of that time... Read more
Published 5 months ago by Ceyla Claire
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More About the Author

SAM WASSON is the author of the New York Times bestseller "Fifth Avenue, 5 A.M .: Audrey Hepburn, Breakfast at Tiffany's, and the Dawn of the Modern Woman" and two works of film criticism. His latest book is "Fosse," a full-scale biography of the legendary director-choreographer. You can visit Sam at

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