National Velvet (1944) - Rotten Tomatoes

National Velvet (1944)

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Critic Consensus: No consensus yet.

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Movie Info

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

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Cast

Elizabeth Taylor
as Velvet Brown
Mickey Rooney
as Mi Taylor
Donald Crisp
as Mr. Brown
Anne Revere
as Mrs. Brown
Angela Lansbury
as Edwina Brown
Butch Jenkins
as Donald Brown
Reginald Owen
as Farmer Ede
Juanita Quigley
as Malvolia Brown
Eugene Loring
as Mr. Taski
Norma Varden
as Miss Sims
Arthur Shields
as Mr. Hallam
Dennis Hoey
as Mr. Greenford
Aubrey Mather
as Entry Official
Arthur Treacher
as Man with Umbrella
Harry Allen
as Van Driver
Billy Bevan
as Constable
Matthew Boulton
as Entry Clerk
Frank Benson
as Englishman
Donald Curtis
as American
Rene Austin
as Schoolgirl
Jane Isbell
as Schoolgirl
Gail Peyton
as Schoolgirl
Iris Kirskey
as Schoolgirl
Paula Allen
as Schoolgirl
Rhoda Williams
as Schoolgirl
Beverly Billman
as Schoolgirl
Stephen Bowson
as Schoolboy
Howard Taylor
as Schoolboy
Richard Haydel
as Schoolboy
Murray Coombs
as Schoolboy
Eric Wilton
as English Bookie
Douglas Francis
as Track Official
George Kirby
as Villager
Leonard Carey
as Pressman
Olaf Hytten
as Villager
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Critic Reviews for National Velvet

All Critics (24) | Top Critics (6)

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.

Full Review… | August 31, 2012
The New Republic
Top Critic

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.

Full Review… | March 23, 2011
TIME Magazine
Top Critic

A good movie for kids and armchair Freudians.

Full Review… | March 23, 2011
Chicago Reader
Top Critic

National Velvet is a horse picture with wide general appeal. The production also focuses attention on a new dramatic find -- moppet Elizabeth Taylor.

Full Review… | March 26, 2009
Variety
Top Critic

This is a charmer for boys and girls of all ages, with a captivating performance from the young Liz Taylor as Velvet.

Full Review… | January 26, 2006
Time Out
Top Critic

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.

Full Review… | May 20, 2003
New York Times
Top Critic

Audience Reviews for National Velvet

½

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 Ballantine
John Ballantine

Super Reviewer

½

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.
Spencer S.

Super Reviewer

½

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
Cindy I

Super Reviewer

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