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National Velvet makes the most of a breakout performance from Elizabeth Taylor, delivering a timeless family-friendly tearjerker that avoids straying into the sentimental. Read critic reviews

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Movie Info

When Velvet Brown (Elizabeth Taylor), an equine-loving 12-year-old living in rural Sussex, becomes the owner of a rambunctious horse, she decides to train it for England's Grand National race. Aided by former jockey Mi Taylor (Mickey Rooney) and encouraged by her family, the determined Velvet gets her steed, affectionately called "The Pie," ready for the big day. However, a last-minute problem arises with the jockey and an unexpected rider must step in as a replacement.

Cast & Crew

Anne Revere
Mrs. Brown
Angela Lansbury
Edwina Brown
Herbert Stothart
Original Music
Leonard Smith
Cinematographer
Robert Kern
Film Editor
Cedric Gibbons
Art Direction
Urie McCleary
Art Direction
Edwin B. Willis
Set Decoration
Joseph Boyle
Assistant Director
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Critic Reviews for National Velvet

All Critics (27) | Top Critics (9) | Fresh (27)

  • 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.

    August 31, 2012 | Full Review…
  • 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.

    March 23, 2011 | Full Review…
  • A good movie for kids and armchair Freudians.

    March 23, 2011 | Full Review…
  • Great family movie; even better for horse lovers.

    December 26, 2010 | Rating: 5/5 | Full Review…
  • National Velvet is a horse picture with wide general appeal. The production also focuses attention on a new dramatic find -- moppet Elizabeth Taylor.

    March 26, 2009 | Full Review…
  • This is a charmer for boys and girls of all ages, with a captivating performance from the young Liz Taylor as Velvet.

    January 26, 2006 | Full Review…

Audience Reviews for National Velvet

  • Jan 16, 2014
    There is a curiosity in seeing Liz Taylor as a child actor and Mickey Rooney is always a delight but this film is pure kids' play. Nothing terribly memorable.
    John B Super Reviewer
  • Aug 08, 2010
    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.
    Spencer S Super Reviewer
  • Jul 27, 2010
    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?
    Cindy I Super Reviewer
  • Jul 25, 2009
    This was one of the first colour films. Liz Taylor as the girl in one of she?s first films. Good ethics of Velvet's parents, particularly her mother is something to take into account. Velvet loves the horses and racing them so Mi Taylor (Rooney) brought her to an international horse racing competition in England, where at the end the young Velvet won, but was disqualified because of being female.
    Constanza B Super Reviewer

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