Louisa May Alcott's autobiographical account of her life with her three sisters in Concord Mass in the 1860s. With their father fighting in the civil war, the sisters: Jo, Meg, Amy and Beth... See full summary »
Bill's separated from his litter, making friends with the wild creatures until he's found and adopted by young Kathie. An accident separates him from her, and he's drafted into K-9 duty in ... See full summary »
While traveling with his father, young Alec becomes fascinated by a mysterious Arabian stallion who is brought on board and stabled in the ship he is sailing on. When it tragically sinks ... See full summary »
Ken McLaughlin struggles to please his family in any way. He comes back from boarding school boasting poor grades and facing going through the fifth grade again, much to his fathers dismay.... See full summary »
Harold D. Schuster
Inspired by the novels of Walter Farley. After being shipwrecked on a remote desert island, courageous, young Alec Ramsay and a wild Arabian stallion named the "Black," form an irrevocable ... See full summary »
Richard Ian Cox,
After the death of his father, troubled teen Jake Gattison travels with his mother to Harmony Ranch, a special retreat for families dealing with problems. There, Jake discovers a kindred ... See full summary »
Mi Taylor was a young wanderer and opportunist whose father had given him "all the roads in the Kingdom" to travel. One of the roads, and a notation in his father's journal, leads him to the quiet English country-side home of the Brown family. The youngest daughter, Velvet, has a passion for horses and when she wins the spirited steed Pie in a town lottery, Mi is encouraged to train the horse for the Grand National - England's greatest racing event. Written by
"Theater Guild on the Air" broadcast a 60 minute radio adaptation of the movie on April 23, 1950 with Mickey Rooney reprising his film role. See more »
The story takes place in the late-1920s, and the Browns pay the entry fee with "100 gold sovereigns" which ceased to be used as money in England in 1918. However, this is consistent with a detail from the novel, in which Mrs Brown insists the entry fee be paid with the sovereigns she won swimming the English Channel, which occurred prior to 1918. See more »
A frame, with music, was added to the film at the end: "To families of servicemen and women: Pictures exhibited in this theater are given to the armed forces for showing in combat areas around the world. [signed] War Activities Committee/Motion Picture Industry" See more »
"--- a 12-year old's single mindedness of commitment and trust ---"
If you last saw National Velvet with a Saturday matinée serial, for a ticket price of twenty-five cents (including popcorn) -- and you purchased the video to see it again with family -- be prepared to re-experience primal feelings from the early dawn of your history. Warm, wet tears will run down your cheeks. Warm, happy feelings will make you stand up and cheer, as if the posse were galloping to the rescue; but most of all, you will feel good -- it will happen often while viewing National Velvet. See the video many times -- cry and use a handkerchief (remember that piece of cloth mom tucked into your shirt pocket) -- jump up from the sofa and cheer; and FEEL GOOD again -- and again.
National Velvet was initially released in 1944; but I must have seen a re-release soon thereafter -- because I know that I was in grade school at the time. I did not see it again until I bought the DVD for my mother recently. And if asked what the movie was about, during that interim period of more than fifty years, I would have answered -- "it's about a horse." That's a boy's initial and lasting impression.
Animal lovers, (I'm sorry, but) National Velvet is not a horsey movie (and never has been)-- the film is really about the pre-teen innocence and enthusiasm of Velvet Brown (Elizabeth Taylor). No animal -- not the film's sorrel gelding, nor Charlie, my yellow labrador -- can compete with the budding beauty of Elizabeth Taylor for the camera's attention. But, stay focused on Velvet's three interwoven relationships -- with Mi Taylor (Mickey Rooney), with her mother (Anne Revere, best supporting actress Academy Award), and the horse, Pirate ("Pi"). What characterizes winsome Velvet, in these attachments, is a 12-year old's single mindedness of commitment and trust, together with her unwaivering loyalty -- admirable qualities also of Ms. Taylor in real life. Mi, whose father mentored Mrs. Brown, is a young itinerant from less fortunate circumstances, with a working knowledge of jumping horses. Mrs. Brown, ever mindful of her own growing experiences, is especially supportive of both her daughter and Mi. The spirited Pi is difficult handling for its owner, and the horse soon becomes a project for Mi and Velvet.
Angela Lansbury (Velvet's older sister, Edwina, aka TV's Jessica Fletcher fifty years later), Jackie Jenkins (the young brother), and particularly Donald Crisp (Mr. Brown, Velvet's father and village butcher) provide able and entertaining support roles. National Velvet received five Academy nominations, winning two.
Set in the 1920's English coastal village of Sewels and its green pasturelands (on location in Carmel, California), Enid Bagnold's book (1933)and the film (1944) tell us a lot about the moral and social structure of small villages (and our small towns, too). One meaningful scene shows Mrs. Brown stowing money in a kitchen pot on her pantry shelf, while Mi spies from the window -- we are wary of what he might do next. Villagers could be suspicious of strangers but they also extended trust, believing in a person's goodness. Front doors were left open -- grandparents will tell of neighbors regularly walking into an empty house, through the unlatched screen, to borrow a cup of sugar from the same cupboard where family monies were stored (my mother kept petty cash in an unused sugar bowl). Honesty was important, but entrusting friends and neighbors was equally valued. That unlatched screen with open front door was a symbol of our neighborliness and trust, and a more meaningful symbol of the times we lived in -- and yes, maybe it said something about our innocence too.
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