National Velvet (1944)
Although National Velvet was the first starring role for 11-year-old Elizabeth Taylor, the early part of the film belongs to Mickey Rooney in the showier role of Mike Taylor, a headstrong English ex-jockey. Soured on life by a serious accident, Mike plans to steal from the country family that has taken him in, but his resolve is weakened by the kindness of young Velvet (Taylor). The two find a common bond in their love of horses. Velvet wins an "unbreakable" horse in a raffle, and enters the animal in the Grand National Sweepstakes. Though Mike is unable to ride the horse, he aids Velvet in her plan to disguise herself as a jockey; she wins the race...but the story isn't over quite yet. Co-starring as Velvet's mother is Anne Revere, who won a Best Supporting Actress Oscar for her performance. National Velvet is based on the novel by Enid Bagnold. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi … More
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Critic Reviews for National Velvet
Pandro Berman, the producer, and Clarence Brown, the director, have made it into a conservatively exciting and engaging film whose chief virtue is its acting, especially a letter-perfect, beautifully felt performance by Mickey Rooney as the jockey.
National Velvet is not merely sure to delight children and the child in most adults; it is also an interesting psychological study of hysterical obsession, conversion mania, preadolescent sexuality.
National Velvet is a horse picture with wide general appeal. The production also focuses attention on a new dramatic find -- moppet Elizabeth Taylor.
This is a charmer for boys and girls of all ages, with a captivating performance from the young Liz Taylor as Velvet.
This fresh and delightful Metro picture, based on Enid Bagnold's novel of some years back, tells by far the most touching story of youngsters and of animals since Lassie was coming home.
Assigned her first starring role, Elizabeth Taylor, then 11, gives a compelling performance in what's one of the most likeable and popular child-animal tales.
Watching a young Elizabeth Taylor work is like watching a seed grow into a blossoming flower.
Perhaps the only time Elizabeth Taylor's costar matched her visual scene stealing. He's a horse, albeit a gelding.
One of the best horse movies; Rooney, Taylor are fine
Gorgeous photography and a great musical score win through in a film hampered by its hopelessly slow pacing.
"Taylor at her most fetching"
Both Taylor and Rooney give without doubt the best performances of their pre-adult years but there's also much pleasure to be had from a stellar supporting cast.
Audience Reviews for National Velvet
A giant cup full of feel good. Mickey Rooney and Elizabeth Taylor, two of the greatest child actors to grace the silver screen, are put together to make one of the more beautiful of trainer-athlete pairings on screen. Anne Revere as the incomparable Mrs. Brown gained an Oscar for her role, and rightly so. Watch with family, because that's what thje movie's about. That and the Pie.More
A warm and fuzzy family film about a young girl's love of her horse and her pursuit of a win at the Grand Nationals horse race. This stars an incredibly beautiful 12-year old Elizabeth Taylor, Mickey Rooney, and Donald Crisp as the curmudgeonly but lovable father, Mr. Brown.
There are some scenes that are TOO coincidental, such as how Velvet (Taylor) acquires the horse to begin with, and how the results of the race are decided. Why take the long way around? We know she's going to win the horse or we'd have no movie. Why tiptoe around the obvious? The race itself, consisting of jumps over hedges and ditches, is breathtaking. A number of horses don't complete the jumps, jockeys are thrown or fall from their horses, and the recording of this event makes you feel you're actually there. Kind of a Ben-Hur feel to it in some ways.
Mickey Rooney was a hugely talented actor as a child, and he doesn't disappoint here. He is by turns sweet or bossy or calculating or afraid. He has a wonderful series of scenes with character actor Arthur Treacher as they watch the race progress.
I've always found Elizabeth Taylor's early performances a little too saccharine for my tastes, but she has a glow in her face and her voice that you can't help but be drawn to. Small children, especially horse-obsessed little girls, will like this, and it's good enough that adults won't be pulling their hair out while watching it.
The main theme at the time was probably about going after your dreams, and it is that. But Velvet's talk with her mother (Anne Revere) about those dreams also holds a feminist message -- that women can do anything men can do. What better message could there be for little girls?
National Velvet Quotes
- Edwina Brown:
- We're alike. I, too, believe that everyone should have a chance at a breathtaking piece of folly once in his life. I was twenty when they said a woman couldn't swim the Channel. You're twelve; you think a horse of yours can win the Grand National. Your dream has come early; but remember, Velvet, it will have to last you all the rest of your life.
- Edwina Brown:
- That'll be a dispute to the end of time, Mr. Brown, whether it's better to do the right thing for the wrong reason or the wrong thing for the right reason.
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