‘Fairs’ Thru the Years

(Above: Olivia Cooke in Amazon Prime’s new Vanity Fair’)

Fans of Amazon Prime’s seven-part Vanity Fair, which debuted over the holidays, may want to check out earlier filmed adaptations of the 1848 William Makepeace Thackeray novel about an ambitious young woman, Becky Sharp, who crosses class lines in  early 19th Century England.

Two of those earlier adaptations can be seen right now on Amazon Prime itself.

1. Becky Sharp (1935), starring Miriam Hopkins, is perhaps most famous as the first feature film shot in full Technicolor. Non-Prime subscribers can watch a less pristine version right here:

2. Vanity Fair (1998) was the most recent of four previous TV miniseries based on the novel. Natasha Little stars in the six-parter.

More Vanity Fair TV

Unlike the new Amazon Prime series, which first premiered in Britain on ITV, the previous TV versions were all BBC presentations. Joyce Redman starred in 1956—1957, Susan Hampshire in 1967, and Eve Matheson in 1987. You can see the latter two free on YouTube, starting with the first episodes below. The Hampshire series ran in the US on PBS, and the Little and Matheson versions on A&E.



More Vanity Fair movies

On the feature side, three years before Becky Sharp, Myrna Loy had her first starring role in the first sound movie version of Vanity Fair. You can watch the complete film right here:

The most recent feature version starred Reese Witherspoon in 2004. It’s available for rental from $2.99 at Amazon and other providers.

Silent Fairs

Four versions of Vanity Fair were produced during silent movie days, and here are looks at the first two.







About Les Luchter

Les Luchter is a former managing editor of Multichannel News, editor-in-chief of Cable Marketing, and news editor of Broadcast Week.

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