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David Hugh Jones
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This sequel to the 1944 Elizabeth Taylor film National Velvet focuses on Sarah Brown, a young, recently orphaned American girl sent to England to live with her aunt - a now grown Velvet Brown. The troubled Sarah is only interested in one thing; horses, and has clearly inherited her aunt's talent. She and her horse Arizona Pie (son of Velvet's Grand National winning stead The Pie) work their way up through the world of eventing, finally being selected for the British Olympic Squad, growing up and finding love along the way. Written by
Tatum O'Neal was the #3 box-office star the year before this was released. Although "Nickelodeon" did nothing for her, "The Bad News Bears" was a smash and much of the credit went to her. By the time this film wrapped, Tatum had grown up (too fast and too soon) and nobody wanted to see her with a faux English accent riding a horse. Orphaned American girl comes to stay with her aunt in England, who once was a famous horserider when she was a child. Belated follow-up to Elizabeth Taylor's girlhood triumph "National Velvet" has an excellent supporting cast: Nanette Newman is solid in Taylor's former role, now a grown woman living with wily Christopher Plummer, who is perfect; Anthony Hopkins is also superb as a stern taskmaster. Only O'Neal disappoints--odd considering the director was Bryan Forbes, who usually excels with younger actors. His film is also too long, with character conflicts and sketchy romantic interludes colorlessly handled. Tatum is much more convincing playing Sarah in her older teen years than playing her as a schoolgirl (she obviously had no schoolgirl experience to draw upon, thereby leaving her in alien territory). Not a wash-out exactly, but a big disappointment. ** from ****
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