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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
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 »
One of the enduring classics from MGM came out in the closing years of World War II, it's the film that made young Elizabeth Taylor a star. She had done a few films as a child actress before National Velvet, but when it came out her place in the movies was assured. Ironically enough biologically she'd be growing up fast enough after National Velvet was out and her next struggle as an actress was to get substantial adult roles because casting directors only saw her as innocent little Velvet Brown who loved her jumping horse.
I'm not sure of how this would work because steeplechase horses have to have confirmed bloodlines and the Pi's are a subject not dealt with in National Velvet. All we know is that he's a reckless and untrainable horse in the hands of Reginald Owen and after he breaks free and causes considerable damage, Owen gets rid of him for a nominal price to the local butcher Donald Crisp.
At the same time as these things are happening, Mickey Rooney comes wandering into the lives of the Brown family which consists of Crisp, wife Anne Revere, and daughters Angela Lansbury, Juanita Quigley, and Elizabeth Taylor and their little brother Butch Jenkins. Rooney is a former jockey who's now on the open road and heading for the Brown family where his father was once a horse trainer for Anne Revere's family. It's he who sees the potential of the Pi (short for pirate) as a steeplechase jumper and it's Elizabeth who convinces Crisp not to pass up this chance.
Elizabeth Taylor was so sweet and innocent in National Velvet. The Good Book says you have to have faith like a child and she has it to spare. She infuses Rooney with it, to have faith in the heart and ability of the Pi and to leave a little over for himself.
Anne Revere won a Best Supporting Actress Award for National Velvet. She's a very wise mother who has hidden depths to her that the audience doesn't suspect. It turns out that back in her youth she had a taste of fame and glory swimming the English Channel and her prize money, saved all these years, she gives to her daughter. That scene is probably what won her the Oscar. National Velvet also won one other Academy Award, for Film Editing.
Over 60 years after it made its debut National Velvet as a family classic hasn't lost a thing. Its depiction of life between the World Wars in Great Britain is still a standout. And National Velvet launched a movie legend. Can't do much better than that for high regard.
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