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National Velvet
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National Velvet More at IMDbPro »

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29 out of 38 people found the following review useful:

The Most Toppy Of The Top Ten Movies About Horses!

Author: httpmom from San Francisco Bay Area
4 March 2004

I am 13 years old and I am writing this review in my mom's sign in. She will write her own review later.

This is my all time favorite movie.It was filmed in England in 1944. I watched it so many times when I was little that I wore out the video tape. I love this movie and it changed my life! The beautiful landscapes. The mighty pie-bold thoroughbred horse. The plain little Irish village with the young girl who wanted to do what no other girl had ever done, compete in The Grand National Steeplechase in London with her most beloved horse, The Pirate. It all made me want to ride horses (which I have done now for 7 years)and learn everything I could about their breeds so I could also draw and paint them. It's a ground breaking movie about winning against all odds, overcoming your fears, believing in yourself, and reaching difficult goals by working very hard. Also, the horse race scene was one of the best ever made and I have seen many movies with horse races. I never get tired of watching this movie. Everything about it is perfect. Especially if you are a young girl and passionate about horses!

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28 out of 39 people found the following review useful:

"--- a 12-year old's single mindedness of commitment and trust ---"

Author: shokenjii from California
30 October 2004

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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17 out of 21 people found the following review useful:

The product of a bygone era in movie-making…

Author: Righty-Sock ( from Mexico
4 June 2005

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

In "Lassie Come Home," "National Velvet," and "The Courage of Lassie," Elizabeth Taylor was eleven years old … Nevertheless, her charm and beauty were extraordinary, and what she lacked in talent and experience was well hidden in a fine production that was nominated for five Academy Awards…

As horse-trainer or dog-owner, as spurned wife or mistress, Liz is a female who is absorbed in the giving and receiving of love: devotion to the object of passion is the center of her life… Little Liz lavishes love on horses and dogs with remarkable intensity… Ecstatic; a dreamer with a turbulent emotional life, persistent, the young Liz dedicates herself to the prize-winning horse the way she later devotes herself to men…

Anticipating her later images of young sex goddess, Liz as Velvet is both saintly and mature… Howard Barnes, in the New York Herald Tribune, called her a child who 'lights up with the integrity of a great passion.'

Directed by Clarence Brown with loving attention to detail, the movie that made her a star is a big bestseller from another era set in Sussex, England, where Velvet Brown, a butcher's daughter, teams with a vagabond teenager named Mi Taylo (Mickey Rooney) to train for competition a horse she's won in a raffle…

From the coastal plains with its beaches, to the rolling hills, thatched cottages, and miles of country walks, "National Velvet" is the product of a bygone era in movie-making…

Following closely the structure of the popular Enid Bagnold novel, the movie is part horse story, part family portrait: scenes of training and riding are balanced by cozy family scenes, vignettes about young love and sermons from Mom on the virtues of courage and endurance…

The Browns are a noble version of Hollywood rustic… Dedicated to a sober work ethic, they live quiet, exemplary lives… Mrs. Brown (Anne Revere) is the very spirit of plain-folk wisdom; the spokeswoman for common sense and fair play, she knows well enough not to silence the semi-hysterical energy of her horse-crazy daughter, and she lets the girl have her dream…

Anne Revere won an Oscar as Velvet's mother, as did editor Robert J. Kern…

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21 out of 29 people found the following review useful:

"The Greatest Horse Race Of Them All"

Author: httpmom from San Francisco Bay Area
5 March 2004

My daughter already wrote a review of this movie in my sign in...but I want to add a few words.

‘National Velvet' was one of my two favorite movies as a child. (The other being 'The Wizard of Oz‘.) The cinematography, the acting, the script, and the music all came together is such a wonderful little heart felt drama that it can still bring tears to my jaded eyes. Based on a book by Enid Bagnold, the script followed the book quite well. The characters are so thoughtfully created. It's easy to become emotionally involved with the entire family and the quaint little Irish village in which they live. The premise...complete outsider believes in her horse and herself enough to chance a try at the greatest horse race in the awe inspiring to any young person, especially a young girl in the 40's...a time when girls were sometimes ignored as humans beings let alone athletes. You would have to be terribly hard-boiled not to appreciate it's merit.

But the perspective I cherished most about this movie is the unabridged innocence in it's moral message.. It's almost magical how 'mom and apple pie' the movies were back then. I was really taken aback by the IMDB reviewer who asked...'Was the world ever really this trusting?' and then proceeded to chastize the director for his complacency regarding ‘unchaperoned' overnight travel involving the two main characters. My answer to his question is an unequivocal YES!!!! The movie going world was that trusting in the 40's.

My grandparents remember taking my mother to this movie when it was released. Then my mother took me to see it when I was young, and my daughter was lucky enough to be born at a time when she could watch it repeatedly on video tape. Now we have it on DVD. It's been a family favorite for generations, albeit generations of horse lovers. It was never about's about coming of age! It's about believing in yourself and working hard to reach your goals. Also, so old fashioned it wasn't even about the prize money! It's about the girl child who understood her horse had what it took to ‘be the best'. And yes, the director was indeed concerned with Elizabeth Taylor's lack of physical development because the book made a big deal about Velvet Brown (Liz Taylor's character) having to cut her hair and bind her chest so that she could pass as a male jockey when she went to the Grand National Steeplechase. This was a guys only sport back then...I think there have only been 12 women ever to compete in this race. It's almost insulting that anyone would bother to think the Lolita thing about this particular movie...besides, anyone having had anything at all to do with an adolescent girl and her horse would know that the only thing they ever think about with stars in their eyes have four hooves and a tail.

And now for a great bit of trivia...the stunt riding was performed by the now famous ‘Horse Whisperer', Monty Roberts. I believe he is given mentioned for his riding in the movie credits.

I give this movie a 10 out of 10! I never get tired of watching it again.

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17 out of 23 people found the following review useful:

A marvelous family film

Author: Joseph Jones
2 November 2002

A sentimental, heart-tugging family film set in England of the 1920s. A young Elizabeth Taylor wins a horse in a raffle and decides to enter him in the Grand National; fortunately, ex-jockey Mickey Rooney is around to give Liz some help. Director Clarence Brown displays some remarkable control with material that could've been excessively maudlin in someone else's hands. He and screenwriters Helen Deutsch and Theodore Reeves take great care in establishing genuine characterizations and developing the story naturally. True, there are one or two scenes that seem a bit forced, but overall it's quite affecting, and gorgeously filmed in Technicolor. The race itself is quite thrilling, and like so many great classics, there's a marvelous, three-hankie fade-out at the end. Liz proves that she was a real trooper right from the start, and Rooney--who I usually find rather annoying--is surprisingly subdued and really very good. Donald Crisp is terrif as Liz's gruff father and Angela Lansbury is a delight as her older, boy-crazy sister. Most of the acting kudos, however, belong to Anne Revere, who won a richly deserved Supporting Actress Oscar playing Liz's wise and caring mother.

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18 out of 25 people found the following review useful:


Author: dbdumonteil
15 April 2003

A lot of directors have broached childhood:Truffaut,Bunuel,Pialat,Comencini,Loach ,but no one did it as Clarence Brown used to do:his world is a rosy one ,a protected one where any dream can come true if you believe in it.Not realistic?Not that much :take "the yearling" for instance:the young hero's pal's death is not passed over in silence but Jody did tell him and us that somewhere in Heaven there are prairies full of coypus.In "National Velvet" ,the mother ,quoting the Book of Ecclesiastes ,tells her daughter that there's a time for everything,even a time to die.

Colors display something magic,closer to fairy tales than to a realistic story:this small town,with its colorful characters,its school where the teacher loves all of her students whom she's going to miss during the long holiday,its butcher's shop.The heroine's parents own it and their house suffuses with understanding,tenderness and love.The race is ,as far as Velvet is concerned , entirely implausible ,but it's nicely filmed.

A top-notch cast cannot fail to win over the audience:the couple Anne Revere/Donald Crisp are parents every child dreams of;Elizabeth Taylor has always been an underrated actress,to think that about 20 years later,she would be Martha in "who's afraid of Virginia Woolf?"!;Mickey Rooney 's pouty mouth and sullen expression avoid pathos and melodramatic effects.And there's also a young Angela Landsbury,long before "murder she wrote" ,on the threshold of a brilliant career.

It may not appeal to Today's children ,who got used to special effects and action-packed stories.But for the adults who've still got their child's soul,it's a true delight.

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8 out of 9 people found the following review useful:

"By Knowing The Pi Can Win And Telling Him So"

Author: bkoganbing from Buffalo, New York
16 January 2009

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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10 out of 14 people found the following review useful:

One of the Best Family Films Ever

Author: GirlwonderReturns from Boulder, Colorado, USA
16 October 2000

This is the first movie I ever owned on video, and 14 years later, I still have the same copy. Elizabeth Taylor was as radiant at twelve as ever later in life, Mickey Rooney gave real dimension to Mi Taylor, and Donald Crisp was solid as ever as Mr. Brown. The amazing Anne Revere, as Mrs. Brown, seemed to be the wisest woman in the world. After nearly 60 years, the warmth, humor, and excitement of this film still affect the viewer; we still laugh at the jokes, root for The Pie, and love Velvet for the spirit and capacity for love that she displays. I love it as an adult just as I loved it as a child. A must for every family video collection.

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5 out of 5 people found the following review useful:

Revisiting a film after 50 years

Author: lastliberal from United States
23 April 2007

During the 13 years of schooling I had from Kindergarten through high school, there was only one day that my class took a field trip. When I went to school, you went to school, from 8:30 until 3:30 and filed trips were not taken. But, for some reason I could not recall at this advanced age, we went to see a movie - National Velvet. I do not recall the movie, so, on the eve of my 57th year, I decided to revisit it.

It is a movie about a time that no longer exists. A time when people trusted others and didn't lock their houses. A time when people were given the benefit of the doubt. It was a time when family was the most important thing. This film shows all of that and more. It shows love and trust and caring and the goodness of people.

It would not be a bad thing for every family to view this film once in a while and discuss its message.

It was a treat to see the young Elizabeth Taylor, Mickey Rooney at his best, the Academy Award-winning performance of Anne Revere, Angela Lansbury before Murder, She Wrote, and Donald Crisp, who performed for almost sixty years.

What a movie!

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5 out of 6 people found the following review useful:

60th Anniversary

Author: juliafwilliams from New York, NY
7 January 2004

After 60 years, this film has both an enduring and endearing quality. A wholesome film for every member of the family, a great introduction to equestrian arts and sciences, to say nothing of a showcase for the incomparable Elizabeth Rosemond Taylor.

Enid Bagnold wrote a great story. The only thing is -- what happened to Meredith? According to the printed page, Velvet had one brother, Donald, of course, and THREE sisters, Malvolia, Meredith, and of course, Edwina. The film depicts three Brown girls, Velvet, Malvolia, and Edwina. (Don't even go to that television program -- there was just Edwina and Velvet).

Well, you can't have everything, I guess.

Happy 60th Anniversary, National Velvet.

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