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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
12-year-old Elizabeth Taylor underwent drastic measures to prove that she was right for the role. Velvet brown was supposed to be a girl in her late teens, going through the natural changes into womanhood. Taylor was told by the director that she couldn't be velvet, as she was rather "boyish". This only provoked Elizabeth more; she ate steak everyday, doubled her portion of meals, and rode her horse constantly to train. In three months, Elizabeth grew three inches, and began to gain the natural curves of a woman. For her efforts alone, she won the role. See more »
The horses are shown turning right during the race. All turns on the Grand National course are made to the left. 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 standout family film from the golden age of Hollywood
"National Velvet" tells the story of Velvet Brown, a young English girl with dreams of entering her beloved horse into competition at the prestigious Grand National horse race. The film follows her as she trains her horse with the aid of a former jockey and the support of her parents.
While "National Velvet" is a family film that fact shouldn't deter anyone who typically views such films with derision. The film is indeed one that will appeal to the entire family, not just attention-addled youngsters. It even managed to land five Oscar nominations, hardly a sign of slacking off for a general audience.
Anne Revere, in the part of Velvet's mother, actually won an Oscar for her performance. She was indeed excellent in the role but it is 12-year old Elizabeth Taylor who steals the show. She is a charming presence and exhibits a talent beyond her years. Also on board is Oscar-winner Donald Crisp as Velvet's father, Mickey Rooney as former jockey Mi Taylor and Angela Lansbury (in one of her earliest film roles) as Velvet's older sister.
The film's lustrous Technicolor makes for an attractive viewing experience while the editing secured the second of the film's two Oscars. Additionally, the film was nominated for its direction (by Clarence Brown), cinematography & art direction. The score by ten-time Oscar nominee Herbert Stothart is also worth mentioning, though it went unnominated.
All in all, "National Velvet" is a wonderful family film that deserves a higher rating. I realize that the prospect of watching a film about a girl and her horse isn't exactly going to thrill some people but this one is worth taking a chance on.
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