Synopsis by Hal Erickson
Now famous as the first feature film produced in the three-strip Technicolor process, Becky Sharp is also an enjoyable effort in its own right. Adapted from William Makepeace Thackeray's Vanity Fair, the film stars Miriam Hopkins as Becky Sharp, a resourceful, totally self-involved young lady who manages to survive any number of setbacks and deprivations in the years following Napoleon's defeat at Waterloo. In her efforts to advance herself, she manages to link up with a number of not altogether attractive gentlemen, including the Marquis of Steyne (Cedric Hardwicke), Joseph Sedley (Nigel Bruce), Rawdon Crawley (Alan Mowbray), and George Osborne (G. P. Huntley Jr.) She rises to the pinnacle of British society, only to tumble and fall into the humiliation of singing for her supper in a cheap back-alley beer hall, but, like her spiritual sister Scarlet O'Hara, Becky never stays down for long. The film ends on an ambiguous note, never hinting that Becky will eventually drop her current beau and settle down to a life of smug piety, as she does in the novel. Begun in 1934 with Lowell Sherman in the director's chair, Becky Sharp was forced to shut down production when Sherman died; he was replaced by Rouben Mamoulien, whose unerring eye for cinematic splendor exploited the new color process to the utmost, especially during the opening Brussels Ball sequence. Until its recent archival restoration, Becky Sharp was available only in a shortened, two-color version, which had the negative effect of diminishing the film's strong points and overemphasizing its weaknesses (This version is still available on the public-domain market). Becky Sharp is an enormous improvement over the low-budget 1932 version of Vanity Fair, which updated the story to the 20th century and cast dumb-blonde specialist Joyce Compton in the role of Becky.
self-reliance, upward-mobility, prima-donna, selfishness, society, ego, life-changes, vanity
High Historical Importance