The Importance of Being Earnest – Anthony Asquith’s frightfully faithful adaptation

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‘A ha-a-a-andbaggg?’

It’s unlikely that two words have been uttered with more disdain, displeasure and bafflement in the history of cinema. Lady Bracknell (Edith Evans), the terrifying matriarch at the heart of what is arguably Oscar Wilde’s greatest play, exemplifies the Victorian values the playwright so enjoyed satirising and is by turns awe-inspiring and laughable. Evans reprised her stage role for Anthony Asquith’s 1952 Technicolor version of The Importance of Being Earnest; perhaps one of the most faithful stage to screen adaptations ever made of Wilde’s work. Asquith even nodded to the source in film’s opening: theatre audience members take their seats and, as the curtain rises, one viewer takes the screen audience ‘into’ the action through her eyeglasses.

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One of the UK’s most successful directors after World War II , Asquith was a natural fit for the role. Much of his output derived from London’s West End, where Wilde’s play had been a sell-out hit when it was released on Valentine’s Day in 1895. Unusually, its success was confirmed before it fell into notoriety – that happened when the play was suspended 83 performances in, following Wilde’s prosecution for gross indecency after his libel suit against the Marques of Queensberry led to revelations of his homosexual relations. Ironically, Wilde’s downfall was initiated by Herbert Asquith (the then Home Secretary, later the Prime Minister) – but it was his son Anthony (himself a rumoured closet homosexual) who would make the first film version of the play.

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Although broadly viewed as a comment of marriage, manners, class conventions and morality, it can also be interpreted as a comment on Wilde’s homosexuality. Ernest Worthing and and the spectacularly-named Algernon Moncrieff, the two lead male characters (played by Michael Redgrave and Michael Denison respectively), lead double lives and the entire play is based on mixed identity and invented relations. Wilde was indeed married and had two children and (in the early days at least) took care to conceal the ‘seedy’ aspects of his personality from his family.

The_Importance_Of_Being_Earnest_Asquith_1952

The_Importance_Of_Being_Earnest_Asquith_1952

The premise is borderline-ridiculous but is saved by Wilde’s sparkling dialogue, and the all-too believable characters who, to quote the playwright, ‘live in an age of surfaces’ and never change, ‘except in their affections’. Indeed it’s testament to Wilde’s skill that the three-act play, which offers little in the way of drama and action, still feels – and indeed remains – relevant today. The film sticks to the source perhaps a little too closely, but that’s a tough criticism when the original would have been hard to improve upon. One of the main criticisms of the day was that it feels too staged – that’s not an unfair comment, but in today’s TV-saturated, Hollywood-blockbuster age, the confined and limited spaces feel almost like a novelty – a theatrical event without the need to go to the theatre. Whilst it’s true that Asquith played it safe and could have opted for a more creative adaptation, The Importance of Being Earnest is a lightweight and whimsical watch, an enjoyable whole that’s a great deal more than the sum of its parts.

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The_Importance_Of_Being_Earnest_Asquith_1952

There’s a particular richness in the colour palette that also recalls the luxury of theatre-going. Asquith made just five films in Technicolor, and Earnest was his first. The film blends colours and tones into a rich and plush tapestry that visually conveys wealth and aristocracy. Traditional gentleman’s attire (tweed, plaid and houndstooth) is presented against a riotous backdrop of William Morris-inspired wallpaper, and floral motif rugs, tablecloths and soft furnishings. The interior sets are over furnished, but the production design (overseen by Carmen Dillon who had worked as an art director on numerous Asquith films) encapsulates Edwardian living whilst also mocking it – an aesthetic, surely directly inspired by Wilde’s original script.

The stand-out character though is Lady Bracknell, who sails into Moncrieff’s apartment clad in a regal purple satin gown, detailed with bows at the shoulders and finished with enormous, exaggerated puff-sleeves embroidered with sprig flowers – all deeply inappropriate for a dowager and reflecting – as the audience is soon to learn – her domineering, narrow-minded and snobbish traits. Aside: take a moment to appreciate the wonderful absurdity of her hats, which are bedecked with everything from silk corsages to peacock feathers and realistic-looking ‘diving’ birds. Although Evans would spent musch of her life trying to avoid being typecast into Bracknell-ish roles, she appears to be extremely comfortable in them; after all, it takes a certain kind of aplomb to carry off a hat like that.

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Although Lady Bracknell is certainly the most quotable, Asquith took care to give each character ‘space’, and the droll, layered dialogue is well-paced and even. The characters’ individual intonations are reflective of their personalities (Bracknell elongates her vowels, Denison’s tone is more conversational), but they all merge harmoniously and the sub-characters – including Margaret Rutherford – are given a chance to shine.

The_Importance_Of_Being_Earnest_Asquith_1952

The_Importance_Of_Being_Earnest_Asquith_1952

Asquith’s film version is probably not as highly-regarded as it should be. It’s not a film that changed the course of movie history (indeed, it’s unlikely Asquith intended that it would) but it’s a sparkling adaptation of a play that, although self-consciuos and knowingly witty, will never go out of fashion. The stagey-ness does date the production, but it’s a faithful homage, well characterised and well produced. Although Wilde might have disliked ‘novels that end happily. They depress me so much’, the (seemingly) happy ending is the cherry on this trifle.

This post is my contribution to the Stage To Screen blogathon, hosted by The Rosebud Cinema and Rachel’s Theatre Reviews. I was keen to cover a Wilde adaptation; although he’s one of my favourite playwrights  I’d previously never watched a filmed adaptation of his work. There are loads of great entries in this blogathon: check them out here.

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Del Rio, Rogers and Astaire are Flying Down to Rio

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Flying_Down_To_Rio

This post is my contribution to Hollywood’s Hispanic Heritage blogathon, hosted by the wondrous Movie Star Makeover and Once Upon A Screen. There’s some great entries examining some oft-overlooked gems – check out all the entries here.

It’s stating the obvious to say that musicals are often lightweight, gay (in the original sense of the word) feel-good affairs. But Flying Down to Rio, Thornton Freeland’s 1933 offering, really takes the (entertainment) cake. The plot, a loose love-story that’s inevitable before it’s begun and practically avoids conflict, is a let-down, but Rio is a fun film that swings along nicely, led by Dolores del Rio and Gene Raymond, with Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers bringing up the rear.

Flying Down to Rio actually marked the first on-screen pairing of the dynamic dancing duo. Rogers’ name even appears before Astaire’s in the billing as she was better known at the time, having appeared in 19 films to Astaire’s one. A last-minute cast addition, Rogers was actually drafted in to replace Dorothy Jordan, who dropped out to marry Merian C. Cooper, the film’s producer. Watching Rio, it’s obvious why the pairing delighted audiences and why they clamoured for more, despite Astaire’s misgivings about the film’s success and the need for a dancing partnership. The famous dance sequence is ‘The Carioca’; the film initiated a ‘Carioca’ craze that swept across the US, with studio bosses cashing in on this unexpected publicity and billing Astaire and Rogers as ‘The King and Queen of ‘The Carioca’’.

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Flying_Down_To_Rio

Astaire and Rogers’ presence might be the reason why the film retains popularity today, but that’s selling the rest of the movie short. Built to cash in on the success of Busby Berkley’s early musicals, it features elaborate, synchronised routines, Art Deco sets, lavish costumes (designed by Irene and Walter Plunkett) and exotic on-location footage: a bold statement from RKO, who were teetering on the edge of bankruptcy. David Selznick got Astaire on board but after he defected to MGM, it was left up to Merian Cooper to see the project through. In fact, it was the perfect fit. Although not a fan of musicals, Cooper was a former explorer and an aviation enthusiast; producer Lou Brock captured his attention with the aerial finale and promises of a spectacular film that would capture the glamour of flight.

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Choosing to set part of the action in Rio de Janeiro also upped the glamour stakes. In the 1930s, it was regarded as one of the most sophisticated cities in the world, a perception reinforced by smouldering screen goddess Delores del Rio (who was actually from Mexico). Although she plays the lead, her role is very much ‘window dressing’; it’s her beauty that seals her personality – although much is also made of her natural confidence and flirting skills early in the movie. Latin America had a certain exotic appeal within the musical genre, which regularly played to stereotypes and character tropes. The passionate Carioca induces impure thoughts (clearly this was a Pre-Code musical) and is exuberant and free. The scene culminates with a vocal performance by Etta Moten – whose silk turban and fruit-basket headpiece recall the extravagance of Carmen Miranda – encouraging the dancers ‘be a Carioca’ against an ‘Afro-Cuban rumba’ – an interesting notion given that the action takes place in Brazil. That melting pot exemplifies how Hollywood felt about, and indeed represented, Hispanics during the era. No matter your actual culture, as long as you bought exotic flare to proceedings.

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Flying_Down_To_Rio

Early in the movie, Belinha boasts that she can have any man she desires; when she attracts bandleader Roger (Gene Raymond) with little more than the flutter of her eyelashes one friend wonders, “What do these South Americans have below the equator that we haven’t?” Whilst it’s undoubtedly one of the best lines of the film it also underscores the natural wonder that surrounds an exotic beauty such as Belinha. She’s from the Brazilian elite, but she doesn’t play to type, her very unpredictability is exciting and refreshing. She is modern and cosmopolitan, just like the city she calls home. Although Belinha doesn’t participate in ‘The Carioca’ (and is curiously absent from all of the musical numbers) it represents her and the group of well-dressed Brazilians in attendance at the hotel and show how divergent they are from the white Americans. Even Roger’s band underestimates the musical talents of the locals, who are admittedly caught sleeping on the job.

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Flying_Down_To_Rio

Flying_Down_To_Rio

Of course, no musical is complete without the costumes, and Irene (Plunkett, the credited designer, was responsible for Rogers’ and chorus attire) pushed the boat out for del Rio. What’s noticeable is the amount of sheer fabrics – and pre-Code flesh – on display; these garments would be placed back in the closet for at least 30 years after the production code was enforced. As befits her leading-lady status, del Rio’s costumes are show-stopping affairs that exaggerate her exoticism. In the opening scene she wears a dress finished with enormous polka-dot puff sleeves. Light yet structured and voluminous, del Rio appears to be floating on a cloud of her own creation. Tapping into the perceived glamour of aviation, she’s suitably attired for her flight to Rio in a tailored skirt suit topped with a large fur stole that ties with a bow. In keeping with the sleeve theme, she removes the jacket to reveal a semi-sheer voile shirt with a piped placket and (again!) oversized sleeves.

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Flying_Down_To_Rio

In contrast, Rogers’ costumes are much more restrained – apart from one slinky, sequinned affair she wears during a performance. Her dresses are more tailored, not exactly everyday as this is a musical, but significantly more restrained and less romantic than del Rio’s. Perhaps in an attempt to emphasise del Rio’s ‘exoticism’ many of her garments are white or light coloured whilst Rogers’ are in darker shades. Rogers does have one scene-stealing look: a wide-legged pant suit with contrast taping, worn with a tropical print jacket and a coordinating wide-brimmed hat that sits precariously on the side of her head.

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Flying_Down_To_Rio

But really, the gowns pale into insignificance in comparison with the spectacular finale that features some well-choreographed aerial acrobatics. Exciting and elaborate, it took Busby Berkley-inspired set pieces off the stage and into the air. Chorus girls, strapped to aeroplane wings ‘danced’ to Vincent Youmans’ award-winning score, their hair blowing in the breeze. In one particularly ambitious move, a trapeze swings underneath the plane. The watching audience – both on and off screen – could surely fail to be seduced by the newness of air travel, combining the promise of adventure with fun, romance and a feel-good musical. The release date coincided with Roosevelt’s pledge to offer transportation and tourism (instead of free trade) to Latin American delegates at Montevideo. It seems that audiences bought into the myth of the Latin beauty and, whilst perhaps were no closer to really understanding it, they certainly wanted to try.

Further reading: Hollywood Musicals and the Invention of Rio de Janeiro, 1933-1953 by Bianca Freire-Medeiros / Ginger: My Story by Ginger Rogers

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Florence Lawrence: the first movie star?

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This post is my contribution to the O Canada! blogathon, hosted by the wondorous Ruth at Silver Screenings and Kristina of Speakeasy. Be sure to check out all the entries, there’s some real under-repped gems to discover…

Florence Lawrence might be one of the screen’s most overlooked silent movie stars, but it certainly wasn’t from lack of trying. During her career, she appeared in almost 300 films; in 1909 alone she starred in 65, many directed by D.W. Griffith. In today’s celebrity-obsessed world it’s impossible to imagine anyone with that level of screen time retaining any kind of anonymity, but Lawrence was playing to a different system, achieving fame at a time when actors weren’t listed or billed, so concerned were studio executives that they’d have to pay their star players more. They wanted it to be about the film (and the profit), not the individual. But of course, when your output is that prolific, public adoration is inevitable. Lawrence’s fans gave her the moniker ‘The Biograph Girl’, a name that would later come to be associated Mary Pickford.

But it’s not just the anonymity that’s impossible to fathom. Lawrence’s entire, ultimately tragic life-story doesn’t sit within the constraints contemporary audiences have for ‘movie stars’. She was attractive and talented, understood the power of publicity and was (extremely) hardworking, but she was also outspoken, vaguely scandalous and had an uncanny ability to never know when she had overstayed her welcome. But that all came much later in her career. Although many of her films have been lost, much of the footage that remains paints her legacy in more flattering shades – vivacious, statuesque and versatile, comfortable in any role (and any situation) the script called for. Blessed with strong features, she was easy to recognise and remember and, although beautiful, she was relatable and engaging. Of course, these weren’t traits that were expected from an actress, Lawrence was a pioneer in a medium that had no context, and had to prove itself as an art form. Success wasn’t guaranteed for anyone – be that screenwriter, director or actor – everyone involved was taking a gamble, and it’s a testament to Lawrence’s love (and single-minded conviction to) for her profession that she made it, only to be rejected by the industry that shaped her.

In many ways, the story of how and why is almost as important as the what. ‘Hollywood’ was a long way from Lawrence’s Ontario origins, and it wasn’t, by all accounts, an easy ride. Her career began just as cinema was born, before there was a movie star success blueprint, before anyone knew how transformative cinema would be. But perhaps Lawrence was made for the screen. She was on-stage from the age of four; after her father left home she regularly took to the stage with her mother, a vaudeville actress who devised ‘Baby Florence, The Kid Wonder’: a (fairly) successful act. According to Kelly R. Brown’s extensive biography, Lawrence ‘learned to wink at her audience the very first time she ever appeared on the stage alone’. Following a nomadic early life, Lawrence’s mother moved the family to New York, where she encouraged her daughter to practice athletic pursuits. Luck or foresight, it was these abilities that landed Lawrence her first movie role: in 1906, aged 20, she was secured a small role in Daniel Boone/Pioneer Days in America, directed by Wallace McCutcheon and Edwin S.Porter for the Edison Manufacturing Company. During the one of the outdoor shots, Lawrence was required to ride a spirited horse. Although Lawrence was not enamoured with her performance, the film was a commercial success, convincing the actress that she should seek more work as a motion picture actress.

Lawrence’s ‘big break’ came when career-maker D.W. Griffith gave her a star role in The Girl and the Outlaw (1907). She went on to star in many of his shorts, notably a popular series of Mr and Mrs Jones comedy shorts; matching her popularity with weekly (rather than daily) wages and on-set demands, including her own make-up table. It was during this period that the ‘Biograph girl’ moniker stuck (Griffith was employed by the American Mutoscope and Biograph Company). It was turning point for Lawrence: the audience recognition lent credence to her demands, and as she evolved from anonymous to named, she was able to control more of her share. But her demands were not entirely welcomed by the Biograph management, who fired Lawrence in 1910.

Of course, Lawrence wasn’t out of work for long, swiftly hired by producer Carl Laemmle who capitalised on her public persona to promote his recently-launched Independent Motion Picture Company (IMP). In a prescient stunt, he initiated a nationwide hunt for Lawrence, who – he claimed – had been kidnapped by his competitors. Hysterical headlines ensued, culminating in her ‘death’ in a streetcar accident – only for Lawrence to ‘reappear’ during a promotional screening at a theatre in St. Louis. Almost overnight, everyone knew her (and IMP’s) name.

Florence Lawrence

Carl Laemmle’s advert, which ran in Moving Picture World in February 1916

Lawrence’s fame was a double-edged sword – it allowed her to make salary claims but tied her into a ruthless production machine that didn’t understand its own limitations. Her star billing was a useful tool, but it wasn’t reflected in her influence and position within the company or the filmmaking hierarchy. It looked like that might change in 1912, when Lawrence made a deal with Laemmle, effectively allowing her to form her own company. She was paid $500 a week, an astronomical sum for the era, but the money didn’t translate into measurable success, instead it functioned as a bribe tactic. Lawrence was still at the mercy of the studio, who used and manipulated her image for their profit – in fact she became so popular (read recognisable) that she developed a series of aversion tactics, including escaping from restaurants through kitchens. It’s a long way from pioneer to pawn but Lawrence became increasingly trapped in her own success; her struggles recall Marilyn Monroe’s efforts (some 40 years later) to be seen as something more than the eye-candy. Lawrence might not have been objectified in the same way as Monroe, but she still struggled to shape her career into something that she wanted. And in the heady, early days of cinema, there was no one to turn to for advice.

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That wasn’t the end of Lawrence’s misfortunes. Whilst filming Pawns of Destiny in 1914, she injured her back carrying co-star Matt Moore from a burning set building. Laemmale declined to pay for the medical expenses, and the star was forced to undergo a series of botch-job operations and plastic surgery procedures. She returned to work within the year, but collapsed after completing Elusive Isabel, her next film. With Mary Pickford waiting in the wings, Lawrence’s star may have been in decline but the medical complications surely exacerbated the process, leaving her suddenly out of favour with both studio and audience. She retired from screen for eight years but struggled to make a comeback despite her best attempts, which included a nose job (1924). Quite simply, the movies had moved on; in an industry that thrived on the new, faded, former stars weren’t welcome. In the interim years, Lawrence supplanted bit-part roles with a beauty supply store, located just two blocks from the Silent Movie building. She satisfied her entrepreneurial tendencies with a series of inventions (including a vehicle turn signal) that she failed to patent and earn any money from. Perhaps those unclaimed and overlooked inventions sum up Lawrence’s career better than any biography – identifying a need and a gap in the market but failing to capitalise on its full potential.

florence lawrence

The final years of Lawrence’s life tell a particularly sorry tale. In the wake of the economic depression, and following her second divorce, Lawrence returned to the screen in the 1930s after MGM initiated a charitable programme that offered bit-part roles to former silent movie stars. Most of these roles were uncredited, but they were paid – usually around $30 a week – a pittance compared to her former contracts, but they provided a link to her former life. According to Brown’s biography, Lawrence retained many of her forthright opinions and ideas, sharing them with the cast and crew of new productions. In 1937 she was diagnosed with a rare and incurable bone disease; the diagnosis cut her life short as a depressed Lawrence committed suicide the next year. According to newspaper reports, her final note communicated ‘they can’t cure me, so let it go at that’.

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A tragic end to a pioneer who showed so much early promise and was instrumental in the development of a fledgling industry. Perhaps comparisons with Monroe are obvious, but it’s impossible to ignore certain parallels. Lawrence gave film (and filmmaking) everything she had at a time when success wasn’t equated with fame, fortune and glamour – the industry took everything she had to offer then left her on the shelf despite her attempts to gain control over her own destiny. The drop-and-disregard treatment of Lawrence set a standard for the treatment of women within the movie industry, a standard that included marginalisation and a look-don’t-touch mentality and would take years to break. The ‘first movie star’ epitaph that’s was engraved on her grave in 1991 was too little, too late, but at least it’s an acknowledgement of the contribution she made.

Further reading: Florence Lawrence at the Women Film Pioneers Project / Florence Lawrence, the biograph girl: America’s first movie star by Kelly R. Brown

Some thoughts on the Mickey Rooney role it’s best not to mention

Breakfast at Tiffanys Mickey Rooney 4

This post is my contribution to the month-long getTV Mickey Rooney blogathon, hosted by a fabulous trio of bloggers: Once Upon a Screen, Outspoken and Freckled and Paula’s Cinema Club. See the full list of entries here, and don’t forget to visit the getTV schedule for details on Rooney screenings throughout the month.

When Mickey Rooney died in April this year, one film was notably absent from the obituaries that charted his colourful and varied life. Its omission wasn’t due to a lack of visibility – in fact, it’s quite the opposite – but the role in question remains one of Rooney’s most contentious. Despite all the highlights in the actor’s rich and varied career, one role cast (and continues to cast) a long shadow: his turn as Mr. Yunioshi in the Blake Edwards-directed, 1961 classic Breakfast at Tiffany’s. It might be the film that inspired a thousand Pinterest boards, seasonal fashion editorials and set a benchmark for a certain kind of romance, but there’s a darker side to the movie that is less regularly referenced.

Since the film’s release Rooney’s politically incorrect performance – complete with taped back eyelids, distinctive buckteeth and overly stereotypical accent – is often cited as one of the worst examples of Hollywood racism. The classic symbol of so-called ‘yellowface’ was no doubt inspired by the actor’s early vaudeville days but, thanks to the permanence of film, it’s a stereotype that is still talked about today. Cartoonish and borderline pervy, Mr. Yunioshi has seemingly no redeeming traits, and it’s impossible to ignore performance, so out of step is it with an otherwise commendable romantic comedy. Indeed, so deep does the opposition run that the role continues to generate protest and upset. In 2011, a Bronx resident launched a petition against Brooklyn Bridge Park’s decision to screen the movie – just one in a string of outcries surrounding Rooney’s role. Paramount, the studio behind Breakfast at Tiffany’s, acknowledged the depth of feeling and included a short documentary entitled Mr. Yunioshi: An Asian Perspective in the 50th anniversary DVD release.

Breakfast at Tiffanys Mickey Rooney

Perhaps the actor just played as he was asked – Edwards was looking for a comic element, and Mr. Yunioshi provided it. On the one hand, the role can be seen as some lightweight slapstick, some easy humour, but in viewed through the lens of social progression, it’s undeniably racist. After spending more than forty years defending the role, Rooney finally admitted that he had some regrets, stating in a 2008 interview with the Sacramento Bee that: “I wouldn’t offend any person, be they black, Asian or whatever… It breaks my heart. Blake Edwards… wanted me to do it because he was a comedy director. They hired me to do this overboard, and we had fun doing it.” Previously, in a 45th anniversary edition of Tiffany’s, Edwards had also expressed remorse: “Looking back, I wish I had never done it… and I would give anything to be able to recast it, but it’s there”.

Breakfast at Tiffanys Mickey Rooney

Rooney and Edwards probably didn’t set out to create contention, and a 1960s audience would surely have had a different reading – in fact, the New York Times review labelled Rooney’s role as ‘broadly exotic’. The movie is a product of its time, and the ‘Mr. Yunioshi’ character was probably already familiar to moviegoers as it harks back to WWII-era anti-Japanese propaganda cartoons. At least those characters were stereotyped with an aim, but 1960s (peacetime) Hollywood can claim no excuse other than ingrained racism. Tiffany’s isn’t the only example of ‘yellowface’ practice, but the film’s iconic status ensures that it’s one of the most discussed. It’s so much more than a ‘bit of fun’ because it’s roles such as this that perpetuated, validated and reinforced stereotypes that would take generations to dissipate. For a 1960s audience, conditioned to view Asians as villains, an enemy to be distrusted and overcome, the role might not have seemed a stretch, but it continued to foster an unrealistic characterisations of an entire race. It’s one thing to be under-represented or stereotyped, but to be deliberately misrepresented? That’s another question entirely and it’s the misrepresentation that makes the role particularly problematic. One suspects that an Asian actor playing the same slapstick role would’ve met with less criticism.

Breakfast at Tiffanys Mickey Rooney

To Rooney and Edwards’ credit, they didn’t know they were making a film that would take a major role in classic Hollywood. If they had, they would undoubtedly have thought beyond the lazy characterisation and perhaps opted for a role that was closer to Truman Capote’s original, a creative artist with an eccentric edge. But of course, Breakfast at Tiffany’s was adopted into American culture and is a much-beloved global export, creating an entire global audience that’s meant to overlook (or at least put up with) ‘yellowface’. But is the act of watching condoning racism? Or is it about accepting that the film comes from another era and was made with an entirely set of ethical codes? In the short term, Rooney’s Mr. Yunioshi probably was a damaging stereotype that perpetuated WWII mythology, but in the long term it’s a reminder of how far Hollywood has come and how much still needs to be changed. Indeed, almost three decades later, Rooney’s character was used as an example of blatant anti-Asian racism in the 1991 film Dragon: The Bruce Lee Story, used to foreshadow the racism Lee himself would face in Hollywood. By no means is Rooney’s role one to be celebrated, but it should be remembered and learnt from and, perhaps for that reason alone, it remains one his most important.

Further reading: ‘A Certain Slant': A brief history of Yellowface in Hollywood by Bright Lights Film Journal / The Mickey Rooney role nobody wants to talk too much about by WSJ / Asian images in film introduction by TCM

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