I must first start off by saying that the typical girly-girl in me loves this movie. I can pop this in on a rainy day, crawl under the covers and just enter the world of Holly Golightly.
However, I won't review Breakfast at Tiffany's here, because doing so would draw away from what's really important for this blog: The observation and evaluation of Mr. Yunioshi, played by Mickey Rooney in the dreaded yellowface.
Widespread criticism of Mr. Yunioshi didn't start until the 1990s, but either way--the character has always been a negative portrayal of Japanese men and the use of yellowface to bring the character to life has never really been something to be taken lightly.
Mickey Rooney as "Mr. Yunioshi"
Producer Richard Sheppard recently stated that even early on he tried to convince director Blake Edwards to cast someone of Japanese descent in the role, but of course he went unheard. Mickey Rooney and Blake Edwards would later express their deep regret of the situation later in their lives--when the criticism first became widespread.
If Breakfast at Tiffany's were originally a film and not based off a book, I would easily say that the character of Mr. Yunioshi was just the creators' way of throwing in a "necessary" racial stereotype. I think this character's only purpose was to call the police--and anyone of any race, gender, or nationality can do that. Did Holly's landlord have to be Japanese? Did he have to be a bumbling Japanese man as well?
I think in order to truly understand Mr. Yunioshi's purpose, one must read the novella to know what Truman Capote really wanted us to take from the man.
Also, in glancing over a few things about the novella I noticed that there were some interesting changes made in bringing the book to the screen (think Cat on a Hot Tin Roof changes)--so who's to say that Yunioshi didn't suddenly go under some major transformation when he was brought to the screen?
(Photo from Spokeo.com)
What did YOU think about Mr. Yunioshi?
Have you ever read Truman Capote's novella?