A staple of easy listening radio throughout the latter half of the 20th century, Henry Mancini’s gifted songwriting abilities often overshadowed the films he scored. Despite winning an Oscar for his score for “Breakfast At Tiffany’s” (in addition to another Oscar he shared with Johnny Mercer for “Moon River” from the same film), the complete score for the picture has gone largely unheard on compact disc until now.
As was the practice in the early ‘60s, the soundtrack of “Breakfast At Tiffany’s” featured cues from the film that were either shortened or re-recorded for lounge listening. The dramatic moments, such as Mancini’s searching, minor-key variation on “Moon River” that switches to a major key with a flourish as Holly and Paul find “Cat,” were never included on the official release. Even Audrey Hepburn’s own vocal of the song wasn’t on the original soundtrack! It’s for those tracks, and many more, that I’m thankful that boutique label Intrada has finally released a 38-track album of the complete soundtrack to “Breakfast At Tiffany’s.”
Mancini’s talents are on full display with this album, which includes all of the jazzy party music from the film (“Loose Caboose,” “Moon River Cha Cha”) but several cues of haunting orchestral color, highlighted by the ethereal sound of the harp and vibraphone. There’s also some jolly wordless vocal numbers that presage the work of Burt Bacharach, in the later 1960s.
Just as the Criterion Collection is known for its high-quality home video releases, with true value-added extras and bonus features, Intrada is tops when it comes to soundtrack reissues. For “Breakfast At Tiffany’s,” they’ve not only secured the whole score for the first time, but alternate takes of the title song with different instrumentation, and even a demo of “Moon River” that was sent to the song’s publishers before the film’s release. A 23-page booklet chock full of photos, posters, and detailed historical and technical notes makes this release everything a fan of the film and its music could wish for.