Becky Sharp ~ 1935 -colour

QUICKIE: It's "Gone With The Wind" in shorthand.

PLOT: Set against the background of the Battle of Waterloo, Becky Sharp (Miriam Hopkins) is the story of Vanity Fair by Thackeray. Becky and Amelia (Francis Dee) are girls at school together, but Becky is from a "show biz" family, or in other words, very low class. Becky manages to insinuate herself in Amelia's family and gets to know all their friends. In the movie we get to see the class distinctions in England at the time, and get a sense of what it was like for the English military at the time of the Napoleonic wars. We also get a clear look at how "orphans" are viewed and treated. Her mistreatment forms her character into a sardonic gold digging social climber. After using various men to raise her status within society, Becky's standing is dealt a serious blow and she is forced to work as a singing girl in a beer hall. Undaunted by her decline, Becky vows to once again gain her status within society and eventually resumes her climb.

SUMMARY: Miriam Hopkins was nominated for an Oscar for her role, but lost to Bette Davis for her film Dangerous. (IMDB) This film was nominated for two other categories at the Venice Film Festival and won Best Colour Film. This was the first feature-length three-color film, the very first film in "Technicolor". It is a remake of Vanity Fair, yet a different film in many respects. So, there is alot of talk about this film and how it compares to the novel, the Broadway play, it's various remakes, and all the hub-bub over the colour. While all of that is interesting, none of it mattered to me before I watched the film. I had just finished watching Myrna Loy as Becky Sharp in the 1932 Vanity Fair, so I was familiar with the story and eager to see this film.

This Becky Sharp is an amazing character. Where so much is implied and quieted down with the Myrna Loy version, Miriam Hopkins is brash, loud and daring. She openly insults people and royality call her "fascinating" for it. She rides higher and higher, with it all culminating one night at a Royal banquet. The battle of Waterloo breaks out and in that moment her world crashes as well.

Sometimes I really enjoy watching movies about people living by their wits and using people. At least Becky is beautiful and vivacious. She enlivens many mens' lives and she should be getting something in return for that. Besides scorn, which she got anyway from the ladies. Many people seem to forget how times were so different in the past and the only way a woman had to get ahead in the world was to play the game and "marry up". No one enjoys poverty, so it was natural for a woman to go after as much as she could. Keep in mind that the men encouraged this behavior in women as well. For if it didn't work, women wouldn't have behaved that way. This movie also hints at the hostility between the classes and just how difficult it is to rise above one's station. But Becky gets it very clearly, which is probabally why she can work the system so well. Society is shallow and built on appearances. Behind closed doors it's a different world.

I loved this user review on IMDB:
"This is "Gone With the Wind" for people who don't care too much about quality. Miriam Hopkins is cast in the Scarlett role - selfish, social-climbing, with no compunctions about using people at whim. The difference is that Scarlett eventually learns her lesson and we have hope, at the end of the story, that she'll live according to the knowledge she's acquired. At the end of THIS story - we're positive that Becky's going to eventually end up in hell, and good riddance. Becky's a manipulative brat who rises to the top, comes crashing down and is eager to start the cycle again."

Family Collection: Disc 54 - side A

Creature Double (triple) Feature: Watch Vanity Fair before this film, then after both, you can watch Reese Witherspoon in the 2004 remake. That's alot of Becky Sharp!

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