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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
3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (118 customer reviews)

Print List Price: $13.99
Kindle Price: $9.99
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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.

Review

“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: 2079 KB
  • Print Length: 288 pages
  • Publisher: HarperCollins e-books; Reprint edition (June 17, 2010)
  • Sold by: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B003MVZ89W
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #105,843 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
85 of 88 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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35 of 37 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Audrey Hepburn, not Tawdry Hepburn June 28, 2010
Format:Hardcover
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
Format:Hardcover
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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28 of 34 people found the following review helpful
By EJ
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
I read rave reviews on this book in several magazines so I bought it. Though I think Breakfast at Tiffany's was a great movie, and adore Audrey Hepburn (who doesn't?), I wouldn't call myself a rabid fan of either. Hence my perspective is not one of a die-hard fan.

For the good points, the author seems to be in the know about the inner workings of Hollywood and the making of movies. There are some interesting stories and factoids in the book, and the story really did explain some of the basis for Audrey Hepburn's star appeal. The author also made a fairly compelling case for the role of Hepburn and the movie in changing the portrayal of women in movies--and this perhaps was the strongest part of the book.

However, many of the tantalizing tidbits advertised were sort of exaggerated by the book's description. For example, some of the press about the book included remarks like "can you imagine Breakfast at Tiffany's without 'Moon River'? This leads the reader to think that there will be an in-depth story about controversy related to the song, but there really wasn't. There were about two pages at most about a non-event related to the song.

Another annoyance with the book was the way it was structured. It is almost written as a series of very short articles with chapter headings that look like scene headings from scripts. Some might find this technique charming but it seemed to be a convenient way to avoid making transitions in the story and sort of disrupted the flow. I found it distracting.

I give this book a definite recommend for Hepburn and Tiffany's diehards, and a lukewarm recommend for the average reader.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
1.0 out of 5 stars One Star
Disappointing and superficial.
Published 1 month ago by Diana V.
4.0 out of 5 stars I liked this book!
Loved this book and the description of putting out a movie that is with the times but ahead of censorship. Love love love the movie!
Published 1 month ago by Amazon Customer
5.0 out of 5 stars A Good Read
A really good read! I read it in one sitting. Remember my mother being highly critical of Breakfast at Tiffany... both book and movie. I loved them both. Read more
Published 1 month ago by SarahsGram
5.0 out of 5 stars Beautiful non-fiction storytelling.
Captures a season of American History revealed through its characters in film, publishing, culture, but mostly the inadvertent pioneer Holly Golightly.
Published 3 months ago by M.S.R.
4.0 out of 5 stars Behind the scenes...
Audrey Hepburn is an icon. Reading this behind the scenes glimpse of filming Breakfast at Tiffany's was mesmerizing. Great read.
Published 3 months ago by Tillienedeau
4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars
Good read
Published 3 months ago by Julie L. Kimberlin
4.0 out of 5 stars And the book arrived at the perfect time – when I was down for the...
I have to thank Hilary Rushford at Dean Street Society for this book suggestion. And the book arrived at the perfect time – when I was down for the count on a sick day. Read more
Published 4 months ago by Bates Girls Books and Cooks
4.0 out of 5 stars Colorful Details
If you're as in love with Audrey Hepburn and Breakfast At Tiffany's as I am, you'll love this book. The narrative is written with beautiful prose and offers insight into what an... Read more
Published 4 months ago by platypusrex256
3.0 out of 5 stars Good idea, incomplete execution
This has a great premise, according to the cover: "Audrey Hepburn, Breakfast at Tiffany's, and the Dawn of the Modern Woman". Read more
Published 4 months ago by Joel Kramer
4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars
Lots of background!
Published 4 months ago by Pamela M Bonavita
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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 www.samwasson.com

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