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

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3.64 of 5 stars 3.64  ·  rating details  ·  3,827 ratings  ·  664 reviews
Audrey Hepburn is an icon like no other, yet the image many of us have of Audrey—dainty, immaculate—is anything but true to life. Here, for the first time, Sam Wasson presents the woman behind the little black dress that rocked the nation in 1961. The first complete account of the making of Breakfast at Tiffany's, Fifth Avenue, 5 A.M. reveals little-known facts about the c ...more
Hardcover, 256 pages
Published June 22nd 2010 by Harper (first published 2010)
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(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Timothy Hallinan
This is an interesting book but it's a cautionary example of what can go wrong when a writer sets out to do too much.

Wasson takes a great cast -- Audrey Hepburn, Blake Edwards, Truman Capote, screenwriter George Axelrod, studio design empress Edith Head, Paris couturier Hubert de Givenchy, and many more, plus the making of an iconic film -- and tries to demonstrate that somehow this enterprise was a benchmark in the liberation of women, that it changed fashion forever, that it did so many things
...more
Marisa

This book about the making of the iconic movie Breakfast at Tiffany's is a delicious, delectable read.

I liked how the author dishes out wonderful nuggets of information. I don't want to give much away, so as not to ruin your "a-ha" or "oh no" moments. I'll just say this: you'll never guess who the famed writer Truman Capote wanted to play Holly Golightly in the film adaptation of his novel (hint, she was blonde and buxomy - quelle horreur!). Capote had his own choice for leading man (an "oh my g
...more
Mary Ronan Drew
Another book for my 10 Best of 2010 list. This is the story of the making of the movie, Breakfast at Tiffany's and its part in Audrey Hepburn's career.

The book is full of anecdotes and detail. The Edith Head/Givenchy contretemps regarding what exactly Holly Golightly would wear (and who would get the credit.) The open cat call to cast the 12 or so cats who acted in the movie. The real story behind that hilarious party. The shooting at Tiffany's, and Audrey's being forced (forced) to wear the Sc
...more
Jenny McPhee
Holly Golighty Needs a New Dress

Sam Wasson’s Fifth Avenue, 5 A.M.: Audrey Hepburn, Breakfast at Tiffany’s, and the Dawn of the Modern Woman is a little black dress of a book: sleek, suggestive, and elegantly subversive. A delightful read full of gratifying anecdotes and provocative cameos of movie people and the glitterati -- Colette, Anita Loos, Gloria Vanderbilt and, of course, Truman Capote and his swans -- the book’s greatest strength lies in Wasson’s multi-stranded account of how a movie ge
...more
James Murphy
Legend fascinates us. We're eager to know more about the cultural milestones of our times and why they continue to influence and intrigue us. The 1961 film Breakfast at Tiffany's is such an event steeped in legend. Its beginnings as a Truman Capote novel are legendary itself because Capote worked hard at creating just the right amount of mysterious aura with which to cloak himself and his work. He thought his little novel about a Manhattan cafe society girl struck the perfect moral tone for the ...more
Redseamom
The backstory of how first the novel and then the film Breakfast at Tiffany's came to be was an interesting read, and for those of us not in the know, the extensive dealmaking and ego-soothing that goes into making a film is entertaining and interesting as well.

This book wasn't what I was hoping, however. I was hoping for more "Dawn of the Modern Woman," but that aspect of the book was limited to the author's rather thin speculations, with little analysis or real historical context. Expecting so
...more
Karlene
If you know me, even just a little , you know how much I love Audrey Hepburn and that my favorite movie of all time is "Breakfast at Tiffany's." It being the 50th anniversary I was thrilled to hear there was a book about to be released about the making of that movie. But this book was so much more than just a telling of how this movie came to be, it was about the American culture that surrounded this movie and what challenges that brought for the makers of this film. For instance, the LBD. In 19 ...more
Susan
I am not sure why the author felt he had to legitimize this film study by connecting the movie to a sociological study, because the book succeeds best as a consideration of the difficulties in modifying a complicated novel into a seminal film. While the author's conclusions are mildly amusing, it is clear that his real love is in tracing the making of this movie by delineating the characters and lives of the major players and intertwining them with the actual real time making of the movie.

The re
...more
Stephanie
I'd make an excellent Mid-Century woman. I enjoy making meatloaf and deviled eggs and jell-o molds. I passionately watch The Dick Van Dyke Show, Ozzie and Harriett and Mad Men, longing for the times when women made cakes from scratch, cigarettes were smoked in front of children, people drank at every occasion (I love a good mixed drink in a perfectly shaped glass poured over perfectly shaped ice) and couples slept in separate beds, sometimes separate rooms. I understand that even Mad Men is a st ...more
Alison

Who can forget Audrey's little black dress?

Back in the 1950s, Hollywood had its good girls - Doris Day - and its bad girls - Marilyn Monroe. Once an actress was assigned to a persona, she was not to cross to the other side, or, heaven-forbid, skirt along the line between.

Breakfast at Tiffany's changed all of that. America's sweetheart, Audrey Hepburn, was about to shatter her mould and make her mark on American cinema history.

I watched all the old movies with my parents - Breakfast at Tiffany
...more
Beth Ann
Sam Wasson writes in a gushy style about an obviously beloved movie. At times his prose is reminiscent of a chick lit novel, and that may be apropos since Breakfast at Tiffany's, the movie, could be considered a precursor of that genre.

The original novella was more bitter and cynical. It didn't sell New York City and its more modern lifestyle to the masses. It spoke to those who felt like outsiders. Wasson shows how the movie was crafted to appeal by watering down the more shocking or distastefu
...more
westernway
This is one of the fastest reads I have done in a long time and I found it very interesting. I was glad to see that having read the novel I was not wrong in my assumptions of about the real activities of the central characters. ( I find it amusing that people still do not realise the true nature of Holly Golightlys profession as it is quite clear if you read the book. ) As a fan of the film I found the story of how it came to be made interesting and cannot honestly think that the original castin ...more
Erin
Jul 10, 2011 Erin rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Erin by: Shelly Miller
My Amazon copy won't get here in time for book club, so Michele shamed me into downloading. I am a sucker.

First, not two hours after I downloaded this book to my iPhone, the UPS man arrived with my copy. Crap.

I LOVE books about movies and the entertainment industry, so this book was my type of thing. However, I wasn't crazy about Wasson's choppy paragraphs and sections, and he seemed to gloss over what, to me, would have been the most interesting parts - Audrey remains mainly a cipher, George P
...more
Amanda
It's not everyday that you get a window into the inner workings of a movie so beloved and so endeared. People don't realize what it takes to make a movie, and this book does a great job of showing every aspect of the creation of Breakfast at Tiffany's. From the book penned by Truman Capote, to the rights purchased by the studio, creation of a screenplay, orchestration of a soundtrack, and the casting of the right actors, it is all detailed in this book. If you ever wondered how "Moon River" was ...more
Cecilia
When I first saw "Breakfast at Tiffany's," I was either in high school or my first year of college.

I loved Holly Golightly; I wanted to be just like her "Single and free -- living life on my terms." (I never even give a second thought to why she was getting $50.00 to go to the powder room.)

The movie became an romantic icon for me, and for most of my friends. It was how I got rid of my Mean Reds.

Omigod! I even named my dog, Holly.

Well, Fifth Avenue, 5AM:: Audrey Hepburn in Breakfast at Tiffany's,
...more
Jenny
I generally am not a fan of Capote, I didn't care for the movie (except for the dress), but reading this book has made me want to both read, and watch; this time from a different perspective. The author gives a detailed account of the details behind, and the making of Breakfast At Tiffany's as well as the impact it had on the women of the early '60s. An easy, fun read. I enjoyed it on my Kindle.
Medlibrarian
To really get this one, I'd suggest rereading Breakfast at Tiffany's and watching the movie again.

It's readable, but as someone who is a huge film buff and who has read extensively on the history of filmmaking, I took issue with some of Wasson's pronouncements. Wasson contends that stars are creations of the studios. While certainly stars were shaped and polished by the studios (and today by their various handlers), to imply that anyone could just create an Audrey Hepburn or a Marilyn Monroe is
...more
Annika
The first and only thing that drew me to this book is the beautiful picture of Audrey Hepburn on the cover standing outside the famous department store in her classic black dress, ala Holly Golightly.

I am not a *big* Hepburn fan, but I could be. I want to be. I have limited knowledge of her and her films. I have enough Hepburn-potential-fandom to know "Breakfast at Tiffany's". Curiousity, shall we say, drew me to this book.

Curiousity so killed this Cat, and tossed it in the rain.

First of all, if
...more
Kathleen (Kat) Smith

Audrey Hepburn is an icon like no other, yet the image many of us have of Hepburn - dainty, immaculate - is anything but true to life. Here, for the first time, Sam Wasson presents the woman behind the little black dress that rocked the nation in 1961.

With a colorful cast of characters including Truman Capote, Edith Head, Givenchy, "Moon River" composer Henry Mancini, and of course, Hepburn herself, Wasson immerses us in the America of the early sixties before Woodstock and birth control, when a
...more
Joan Hanna
Fifth Avenue, 5 A.M. looks at everything from the history of fashion, fashion in film, Capote’s writing of the book, Audrey Hepburn’s film career, and how Givenchy came to epitomize style and class all wrapped up in a little black dress. Wasson explores all of the subtle and not so subtle forces that came together to even make this film possible. There is enough name-dropping in this book to make your head spin, from Marilyn Monroe to Chanel; from Edith head to Givenchy, and everyone in between. ...more
CatherineMorland
I thought it was very interesting how one movie had such an impact in Hollywood and the modern woman. I'm the biggest Audrey Hepburn fan, so I loved learning some new details about her life :)

This book reminded me of one of those celebrity gossip/fashion magazines you buy for a plane trip (but on a classier scale). You know the kind I mean. Full of juicy celebrity news, cool fashion and trends, and random entertaining trivia. Just like the magazines, this felt like a guilty pleasure because a lo
...more
Carol Storm
Audrey Hepburn is so beautiful, magical, and talented that you wouldn't expect any book to come close to capturing how special she was. But this book really does!

Sam Wasson tells the whole story of Audrey's greatest movie, BREAKFAST AT TIFFANY'S. He tells how Truman Capote invented Holly Golightly, based on his wandering mother. He tells how Truman wrote the story, sold it to magazines, and the changes they wanted to make in the character. Then he tells how the movie studio bought it, and the ch
...more
David
Very interesting read on the process of making a great movie. Nothing earth-shattering, but I liked the gyrating dance taken by the producers between Truman Capote's book (unfilmable, by most people's standards), and the pleasing, chaste romantic comedies that Hollywood churned out like a factory. I came away with 3 thoughts; 1. Audrey Hepburn is probably one of the nicest actors ever, 2. Mel Ferrer is an asshole, 3. I need to read more Capote. ( or any Capote, to tell the truth)
Sonia
Capita nella vita di guardare un film, leggere un libro e incontrare un personaggio che per noi resterà eterno e indimenticabile. Un mito.
Un personaggio da ammirare, da guardare da lontano, sperando che non smetta mai di incantarci come ha fatto la prima volta, e magari desiderando di poter incrociare la sua strada per caso, pur sapendo che sarà impossibile.
Ero piccola e alla tv trasmettevano Vacanze romane, con la splendida coppia Audrey Hepburn - Gregory Peck, che non avrei più dimenticato per
...more
Christine
I've always loved Breakfast at Tiffany's, and this book provided some great historical context of the book and the movie adaptation, and outlined the significance of every element of the movie. It was a unique biographical remembrance of the movie, how it was made and how all the parts came together, including how Audrey was chosen for the part, Capote's feelings through the process, how Henry Mancini penned "Moon River," how it was shot, the cultural reactions after the release, etc.

It read li
...more
tuttle88
This book reads like a poorly written university essay. One where the student tried to be clever and failed.
The sections are divided up in ways that feel forced. Like the author was aiming for a screenplay like effect or maybe just trying to be cute.
It also does something a lot of non-fiction does now which is try to make it read like a novel. Look I'm all for making non-fiction more readable but I think it's a dangerous trend. You can say for example that Hepburn was nervous leaving her child
...more
Susie
Fifth Avenue, 5 A.M. happens to be the time and place of the first scene that was shot on the first day of filming of Breakfast at Tiffany’s. A revolutionary movie for it’s time (1961), the subject matter pushed the limits of what studio executives were willing to allow. Audrey Hepburn, known for her sweet and virginal roles was cast against type playing Holly Golightly. George Peppard was disliked by everyone and Buddy Ebson was a surprise choice as Holly’s former husband. Truman Capote dislike ...more
Doriana Bisegna
I had a blast reading this book on the making of Breakfast At Tiffany's. I loved the stories about Audrey Hepburn, Truman Capote and the rest of the cast. This is Old Hollywood at its best! It also allows us to see how women were portrayed in films before Breakfast At Tiffany's came along and how the film broke down that barrier...after all women were not supposed to be having sex before marriage let alone be call girls! All in all a great "behind the scenes" book!
Anmiryam
A breezy and entertaining look at the making of the film version of "Breakfast at Tiffany's." It's a small book, filled with entertaining anecdotes about the various players involved in the production that touches upon some interesting themes (the changing nature of "womanhood" at the dawn of the 60s, the burgeoning sexual revolution and the rumbles of revolution in Hollywood film making), but never fully explores any of them with great depth. Despite it's flimsiness, it's a great read and I rec ...more
Jennifer
Breakfast at Tiffany’s is my all-time favorite movie so I was pretty stoked to see a book about the making of it. As far as books go this is a pretty easy read, I finished it in two days and it was full of a lot of background info to the book, getting the rights to the movie, casting it, making it and all that. The writing style is casual, some what I assume is made up dialog here and there and some letters or snippets of scripts which was a fun read.

The only downside is that the book seemed to
...more
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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. He is a visiting professor of film at Wesleyan University.
More about Sam Wasson...
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“The baby boom produced a fresh batch of American youngsters -- teenagers they were called -- and they were suddenly coming of age. But until Roman Holiday, it was hard for them to see themselves in the movies. What Audrey offered -- namely to the girls -- was a glimpse of someone who lived by her own code of interests, not her mother's, and who did so with a wholesome independence of spirit.” 6 likes
“Those without color—say, dressed in all black—can go about almost unnoticed. Where the rainbow is conspicuous, their darkness acts as a kind of camouflage, masculine by contrast, and allows them to watch without being watched. It’s the choice of someone who needs not to attract. Someone self-sufficient. Someone more distant, less knowable, and ultimately, mysterious. Powerful.” 3 likes
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