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

3.66  ·  Rating Details ·  4,736 Ratings  ·  740 Reviews



“So smart and entertaining it should come with its own popcorn” – People


“A bonbon of a book… As well tailored as the little black dress the movie made famous.” – Janet Maslin, New York Times


“Sam Wasson is a fabulous social historian.” – The New Yorker

“Reads like carefully crafted fiction…[Wasson] carries the rea
Hardcover, 256 pages
Published July 1st 2010 by Harper (first published June 22nd 2010)
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Oct 23, 2011 Brian rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Like countless others my first major adult movie star crush was Audrey Hepburn as Holly Golightly. The exact memory of the first time viewing Breakfast at Tiffany’s has become completely muddled with all of the times I watched the movie in my early 20s – my only clear recollection now is watching in a love-smitten stupor those opening minutes when Golightly emerges from a taxi onto an empty pre-dawn 5th avenue.

I loved the book's details of making the movie (how cold it was for Hepburn doing tha
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
Sep 02, 2012 Marisa rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition

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
Aug 25, 2016 Nora|KnyguDama rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition

O, Audrey Hepburn... ji mano ikona, idealas, dievaitė jau bala žino kiek laiko. Be paveikslų, atvirukų, suvenyrų susijusių su Audrey, mano namų lentynos pilno ir knygų apie ją. 3 biografijos, 2 albumai, patarimų apie Audrey stilių knygos... Visko ko tik įmanoma su Audrey aš turiu. Ir šią knygą įsigijau kai tik ji pasirodė knygynų lentynose. Bet jos skaityti iš karto nepuoliau. Mat viską ką apie Hepburn turėjau - perskaityta. "Aveniu" taupiau kaip
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
Kressel Housman
I've recently become a big fan of a Hollywood history podcast called "You Must Remember This," and when I heard the episode on Audrey Hepburn, it cited this book, which I first heard of last year when the "101 Books" group read Breakfast at Tiffany's. I saw the movie years before reading the original, so I could only imagine Audrey Hepburn's Holly Golightly the whole way through, even though I knew that Truman Capote said she was all wrong for the part. This book goes into that conflict in detai ...more
Jenny McPhee
Oct 11, 2011 Jenny McPhee rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Nov 10, 2011 Karlene rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
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
Mary Ronan Drew
Dec 03, 2010 Mary Ronan Drew rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Mar 20, 2016 Gerry rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
When Truman Capote sold the film rights of his novella 'Breakfast at Tiffany's' to Paramount Studios he did not realise what drama was to follow. For a start Capote wanted Marilyn Monroe to play the film's heroine Holly Golightly, who was a young woman working in New York City as an expensive escort and who was searching for a rich, older man to marry. But Monroe's drama coach Lee Strasberg advised her that playing 'a prostitute' would be bad for her image and she turned the part down. The studi ...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
Mind the Book
För något år sedan satt jag på Logan i Boston, med denna nyinköpta bok i ena handen och ett glas champagne i den andra. Så bör den läsas, inser jag nu.

När 50-tal blev 60-tal. Underrrubriken "the dawn of the modern woman" väckte sociologiska förhoppningar, men det är mer glitterati än genus. Vem kände vem, vem hade på sig vad, vilka lunchade eller jazzklubbade med vilka etc. etc.

Det sirliga språket stör och varför så melodramatisk ton, t.ex. "The cutting room floor is a graveyard." om det alter
Sep 07, 2010 Susan rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Sep 19, 2011 Alison rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition

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
Beth Ann
May 30, 2010 Beth Ann rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
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
Jul 09, 2011 Erin rated it liked it  ·  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
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
Feb 20, 2013 Jenny rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
Hunter Collins
May 09, 2016 Hunter Collins rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I finished this right before the book club where we were reading Breakfast at Tiffany's and I have to say it's a great companion for the book. I just love reading more and more about Audrey Hepburn and Breakfast at Tiffany's because it is a book I really enjoyed (even more than the movie!)
Tracey Sinclair
Dec 21, 2015 Tracey Sinclair rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Fascinating look at the making of Breakfast at Tiffany's and its cultural impact. The breathless, newsy style grates occasionally but lends the story pace and verve, and pleasingly it doesn't at all skate over the stonkingly racist Mickey Rooney character and how misjudged it was.
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
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,
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
Aug 24, 2011 Annika rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
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
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
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
Carol Storm
Sep 12, 2011 Carol Storm rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Sep 10, 2015 James rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This reads almost like a bedtime fairy tale. A compact concise episodic tale of the origins of Truman Capote's BREAKFAST AT TIFFANY'S in its embryonic form as a book and then a screenplay and finally as an award winning film. Most wonderful is the analysis of this seemingly fluffy film as the stepping stone in changing Audrey Hepburn's image and altering the way modern women were wanting to be or becoming in 60s America. Great cast of non-fictional characters including Hepburn, Capote, Blake Edw ...more
Brittany Seyb
Jul 08, 2015 Brittany Seyb rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
My favorite movie, my favorite leading lady, and one of my favorite novellas, what could go wrong? Quite a few things! There is a lot that goes into making a movie and this novella turned film is no exception. In this book we have a brief look into the development of what has become the go to movie for girly girls.

It's easy to put the movie on a pedastool and not really see it for what it is and if you are like me and do in fact realize it's more than a little black dress, a cat and the illusio
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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.” 7 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.” 5 likes
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