Q: In the late 1950s or early ’60s I watched a movie called “Vanity Fair,” an adaptation of the novel by William Makepeace Thackeray. Recently I read the novel and am wondering if there is a recent movie that better presents the book.

A: There are about a dozen TV and movie versions of the novel, spanning decades. Myrna Loy was Thackeray’s main character, Becky Sharp, in a 1932 version. Miriam Hopkins was nominated for an Oscar for the 1935 film “Becky Sharp.” Susan Hampshire won an Emmy as Becky in a 1967 British miniseries after it aired on “Masterpiece Theater” in 1972. Reese Witherspoon was Becky in a 2004 big-screen production. Even more recent is a 2018 miniseries starring Olivia Cooke; it has an 89% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. Cooke was much praised, and it takes seven parts to tell the story. So that may be the best place for you to look.

Coronavirus isn’t that novel

Q: Assuming that COVID-19 is new, why did it appear in an episode of “Law & Order” from 2003? The virus was found in a container in a car driven by an employee from a lab.

A: “There are many coronaviruses,” says the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, “including some that commonly cause mild upper-respiratory tract illnesses” as well as scarier forms such as SARS and COVID-19. The term “coronavirus” dates back to 1968. For you science students, it is defined in the Oxford English Dictionary as “any member of a group (formerly a genus) of enveloped, single-stranded RNA viruses which have prominent projections from the envelope and are pathogens of humans, other mammals, and birds, typically causing gastrointestinal, respiratory, or neurological disease.” COVID-19 is an abbreviation of the World Health Organization’s official name: coronavirus disease 2019, after the year it was first identified.

Lots of resemblance, no relation

Q: Alexander Calvert (Jack on “Supernatural”) bears a remarkable resemblance, both in appearance and mannerisms, to Ruby Rose (the title star in “Batwoman”). I can’t help thinking they must be related. Twins, perhaps?

A: As far as I can find, they are not related. And, in case you missed it, Ruby Rose is not returning to “Batwoman” next season, setting up major changes (and speculation) about what Season 2 will be like when it arrives in 2021.

 

E-mail brenfels@gmail.com.