The Audrey Hepburn Connections to The Dark Knight Rises
Before Trailer #2 came out for The Dark Knight Rises, I hadn't watched Breakfast at Tiffany's in maybe three or four years even though it hangs out on my DVD shelf (alphabetically close to some of my Batman collection). It had been so long, that I honestly couldn't tell you the last time I gave it a thought. So, when I saw this post on Tumblr, I felt like the biggest idiot in the world. How did I totally and completely miss that Selina Kyle was dressed like Holly Golightly? Since I consider myself to be a nerd for classic film, I was pretty ashamed of myself.
After noting the obvious Audrey Hepburn influences in Selina Kyle's wardrobe for The Dark Knight Rises, I added Breakfast at Tiffany's to my Things-To-Rewatch-Before-TDKR-Comes-Out list. Since my rewatch, I have a better of understanding of what Holly Golightly and Selina Kyle have in common and how it all comes full circle.
Sidenote: I should mention that (as the Tumblr post pointed out) even though there also seems to be a mask homage to How to Steal a Million (another Audrey Hepburn film from the 1960s), which is also somewhat fitting for the character of Selina Kyle, I'd like to focus this post on Breakfast at Tiffany's.
Not having watched it in a while, I found that I remembered a good deal of Breakfast at Tiffany's. The simplicity and absolute perfect shot composition of the opening with Holly actually eating the title of the film. Mickey Rooney's infamous casting. And, the wonderful ending (which is one of my favorites in film history because kisses in the rain are just...the best).
But, I had forgotten about one of the biggest aspects of the story: Holly had a cat.
The unnamed "Cat" (again, much to my shame in leaving him out of my memory) plays an important role and is somewhat of a representation of Holly. She says that she won't give Cat a name until she finds a place that makes her as happy as Tiffany's and that neither she nor Cat belong to anyone. Heck, she's even shown drinking milk.
It's my belief that once Holly opens her heart up to Paul (who makes her happy) at the end and goes back for Cat after throwing him out of the taxi, she would finally give him a name. Of course, that's never discussed in the movie, but that's what I choose to take away from it.
I bring up the cat imagery in Breakfast at Tiffany's because it's common for Catwoman to be shown around cats or having cats as a pet. If you had told me Breakfast at Tiffany's was a movie set in the Batman universe, based on the cat imagery, I would have assumed that Holly Golightly was Catwoman.
At one point in the story, Holly Golightly and Paul Varjak decide to go around New York, doing things they've never done before. Paul tells Holly that he has never stolen anything from the Five and Dime (or, "Ten" as she calls it). They end up walking right out of the store with masks on that they never paid for. It shouldn't shock anyone that Holly dons a cat mask. What's fun about this in looking at it from a Batman perspective, it reminds me of the Birds of Prey TV series. In it, Helena Kyle (Bruce Wayne and Selina Kyle's daughter) wears a cat mask when going undercover in a gang that performs robberies which helps her feel like she has gotten to know the Catwoman side of her mother.
The last bit of cat/Cat references in the movie is Paul's book, "Nine Lives". It's a book he only has twelve copies of and hadn't written anything since. After he meets Holly Golightly, she is something of a muse for him, inspiring him to pick writing back up.
Like Selina Kyle, Holly Golightly has two sides.
She goes to New York in search of another life, but is, sometimes, referred to as a "phony". But, you know, "a real phony".
Holly Golightly wants you to think she is a high-class lady who mingles with the rich and famous, but the audience finds out she has another name: Lula Mae Barnes. As Lula Mae, she is the wife of a Texas horse doctor, sister to a brother off at war, and step-mother to four children. As a fourteen-year-old orphan, Holly takes it upon herself to do right by herself and her brother, so she marries Doc Golightly.
In comics, Selina Kyle has an origin story in which her parents die (her mother to suicide and her father to the bottle) when she is young.
Jewel Thieves probably love Tiffany's.
There is no basis for this in trailers, TV spots, nor promotional photos, but in thinking about the Breakfast at Tiffany's connections to The Dark Knight Rises, I can't help but giggle at the idea that Selina Kyle could share Holly Golightly's love for Tiffany & Co., the world-famous jewelry store given Catwoman's penchant for shiny things.
Holly Golightly goes to Tiffany's, seeking comfort when she has the "Mean Reds" and tells Paul "I'm crazy about Tiffany's!". I'd like to think Selina Kyle would have a similar love for the boutique.
The "She's not sexy enough!" thing was happening in the 1960s, too.
Before Audrey Hepburn was cast in Breakfast in Tiffany's, those involved with the film thought Marilyn Monroe would be a good fit for the lead role of the call-girl. While I agree that there was a natural sexiness to Marilyn Monroe, the part of Holly Golightly required the actress to make the audience care about her life. Maybe I haven't seen enough of Marilyn's dramatic work (though I've watched a handful of her comedies), but after having seen the finished product of Breakfast at Tiffany's, I don't think she would have been right for it in terms of the acting department at all.
While the part had aspects of it rewritten to fit Audrey Hepburn, it's still believable that men would want Golightly's "services". The bonus of Hepburn bringing her to life is that she's fun to watch, keeps your attention, and is endearing enough to cheer for her to come to her senses. I'm sure Monroe's version would have been sexy and you could argue right along with Truman Capote himself that she was a better fit, but would she have gotten award recognition for her performance as Hepburn did?
As it seems, nothing has changed much in fifty-one years. Just as in 1961, when there were those who thought Audrey Hepburn wasn't sexy enough to play Holly Golightly, there are those in 2012 who doubt Anne Hathaway can cut it as Catwoman.
Just recently, a friend of mine from high school posted this on Facebook (which, of course, I turned into a debate in defense of Hathaway and led me to write this):
Selina Kyle has been reinvented over the decades since her creation, but in many of those depictions, she has been an escort, dominatrix, or a call-girl like Holly Golightly (check out this epic post for more on Selina Kyle's comic book history) so it makes sense that some fans want Catwoman to have sex appeal. Right now, the thing about Hathaway's version is that we know very little about her past. We don't have any information on how she will be depicted other than she will be a cat burglar, have a long rap sheet, be something of a grifter (which, in a way, is very Holly Golightly), and Christopher Nolan wanted an actress who could convey her history without having to say anything. It could be an incorrect assumption, but I wouldn't be surprised if TDKR!Selina's wardrobe harkening back to Holly Golightly alludes to her call-girl or at least, some kind of wrong-side-of-the-tracks past.
One of the photos released for The Dark Knight Rises is an image of Selina Kyle in handcuffs. We're not entirely sure why she is arrested, but it's safe to say (given Trailer #3), she's probably been captured by John Blake.
To take it back to Breakfast at Tiffany's, Holly Golightly is also arrested. In her situation, she is cuffed and taken into the police station due to her affiliation with mobster, Sally Tomato who she is paid to visit at Sing Sing. During those visits, Sally gives her what she thinks are weather reports, but are actually coded messages.
I'm more of a graphic novel type-reader when it comes to comics. I'm always behind on current continuity and since I, personally, didn't know about any previous Hepburn connection to Selina Kyle, I started doing some digging. I was surprised to find that it was more than just possible for one to exist. It was intentional.
Comic Book Artist Adam Hughes was inspired by Audrey Hepburn's look and used it for his Catwoman covers from 2005 to 2008.
While I don't read the Catwoman title (I'm more of a fan of the BatCat relationship than I am of Catwoman as her own character and am usually annoyed by the way most artists draw Catwoman and other female characters; don't get me started on Starfire and Power Girl), I must say that Adam Hughes' art is pretty remarkable. The Audrey Hepburn-ness of his Selina Kyle is clearly visible.
I can imagine Lindy Hemming visiting with DC Comics to check out past depictions of Selina to get costuming ideas and a light bulb going off upon hearing what Hughes did with her. I'm just guessing, but I would think Hemming started her Hepburn-esque designs for Catwoman/Selina as soon as she was told the character would be around and the casting of Anne Hathaway just made the concept sweeter because of her Hepburn likeness.
Audrey Hepburn has a connection to Comic!Catwoman. Hathaway!SelinaKyle has a connection to Breakfast at Tiffany's. So, I wondered...did Anne Hathaway have a connection to Audrey Hepburn?
A Google search directed me to an issue of Vogue from November 2010. After I checked it out, I remembered seeing this on Tumblr before, but had never bothered to check the source. The Audrey Hepburn look of that photo shoot was unmistakable, even to Anne who joked that her hair was "Holly Golightly meets Marge Simpson". She even, as noted in the Vogue article, broke out into singing "Moon River".
In this video interview from the shoot, Hathaway doesn't outright mention Audrey Hepburn, but the images speak for themselves.
"I'm like Cat here. We're a couple of no-name slobs."
I started out giddy at Selina Kyle's costume design nod to Holly Golightly's hat and little black dress, but after rewatching Breakfast at Tiffany's and educating myself on Audrey Hepburn's influence on Comic!Catwoman and Anne Hathaway, my mind is completely blown. I was already really excited about Nolan's version of the Catwoman character, but I have so much more of an appreciation of what they are going for in terms of look and characterization. I have a feeling Hathaway's Catwoman likes to present herself as an Audrey Hepburn-like woman who is hiding where she really came from and in my opinion, that's such a cool and different take.
Mix the Hepburn look with the Hedy Lamarr voice and this classic film nerd has a new favorite Catwoman.