HOME |  CULT MOVIES | COMPETITIONS | ADVERTISE |  CONTACT US |  ABOUT US
 
 
 
Newest Reviews
Undergods
Betrayed
Fried Barry
Once Upon a River
Cowboys
Atlantis
We Still Say Grace
Enfant Terrible
Nomadland
Playboy of the Western World, The
Bike Thief, The
Threshold
Virtuoso, The
Here are the Young Men
Beast Beast
Labyrinth of Cinema
Justice Society: World War II
Artist's Wife, The
Truman & Tennessee: An Intimate Conversation
Pusher III
Palm Springs
Devil Commands, The
Oak Room, The
Pusher II
Forget Everything and Run
Secrets & Lies
Red Moon Tide
Man with Nine Lives, The
Pusher
Pot Carriers, The
Black Bear
Don't Cry, Pretty Girls!
Portal
Me You Madness
Reckoning, The
Laddie: The Man Behind the Movies
For the Sake of Vicious
Hell Bent
Straight Shooting
Jules Verne's Rocket to the Moon
   
 
Newest Articles
More Than Mad Science: Karloff at Columbia on Blu-ray
Indian Summer: The Darjeeling Limited on Blu-ray
3 from 1950s Hollyweird: Dr. T, Mankind and Plan 9
Meiko Kaji's Girl Gangs: Stray Cat Rock on Arrow
Having a Wild Weekend: Catch Us If You Can on Blu-ray
The Drifters: Star Lucie Bourdeu Interview
Meiko Kaji Behind Bars: Female Prisoner Scorpion on Arrow
The Horror of the Soviets: Viy on Blu-ray
Network Double Bills: Tarka the Otter and The Belstone Fox
Network Double Bills: All Night Long and Ballad in Blue
Chew Him Up and Spit Him Out: Romeo is Bleeding on Blu-ray
British Body Snatchers: They Came from Beyond Space on Blu-ray
Bzzzt: Pulse on Blu-ray
The Tombs Will Be Their Cities: Demons and Demons 2 on Arrow
Somebody Killed Her Husband: Charade on Blu-ray
Network Double Bills: Maroc 7 and Invasion
Network Double Bills: The Best of Benny Hill and The Likely Lads
Network Double Bills: Some Girls Do and Deadlier Than the Male
Absolutely Bananas: Link on Blu-ray
Network Double Bills: Hawk the Slayer and The Medusa Touch
The Price of Plague: The Masque of the Red Death on Blu-ray
Network Double Bills: Seance on a Wet Afternoon and Ring of Spies
Chaney Chillers: Inner Sanctum Mysteries - The Complete Film Series on Blu-ray
Adelphi Extras: Stars in Your Eyes on Blu-ray
Toons for the Heads: Fantastic Planet and Adult Animation
   
 
  National Velvet My Little Pony
Year: 1944
Director: Clarence Brown
Stars: Elizabeth Taylor, Mickey Rooney, Donald Crisp, Anne Revere, Angela Lansbury, Jackie 'Butch' Jenkins, Juanita Quigley, Arthur Treacher, Reginald Owen, Norma Varden, Terry Kilburn, Arthur Shields, Aubrey Mather, Alec Craig, Eugene Loring
Genre: DramaBuy from Amazon
Rating:  8 (from 3 votes)
Review: A note in his late father’s journal leads opportunistic young Mi Taylor (Mickey Rooney) along the open road to the quiet English country home of the Brown family. Though Mr. Brown (Donald Crisp) questions the young man’s integrity, Mrs. Brown (Anne Revere) gives Mi a chance to earn his keep since, unbeknownst to him, his father once trained her to swim the English channel. Her spirit burns bright in the Brown’s youngest daughter, Velvet (Elizabeth Taylor), a radiant, good-hearted girl with an all-consuming passion for horses, particularly the Pirate, or Pi for short, a spirited steed whom she wins in a raffle. Velvet has her heart set on racing the Pi in competition. Her enduring self-belief beguiles Mi away from his own doubts and insecurities and encourages him to train Velvet to race at the Grand National.

What is it about little girls and horses? National Velvet sparked an obsessive love in the hearts of millions of pony-mad young ladies that endures to this day. Movie-makers have been spinning variations on novelist Enid Bagnold’s original story ever since. One of the most beloved family movies of all time, National Velvet embodies everything MGM did best: a sincerely heart-warming story coated in lush Technicolor and topped by a radiant new star, the young Elizabeth Taylor. Fresh off her adorable debut in Lassie Come Home (1943), Taylor was third-billed after the studio’s reigning youthful star, Mickey Rooney. Rooney is excellent, but it was Taylor’s Velvet Brown whom everyone fell in love with.

Like all good animal movies, this is not really about the horse but about people, including a heroine who seems less a child than a force of nature. An ardent animal lover off-screen, Taylor makes Velvet nothing less than the irrepressible, bright eyed spirit of childhood idealism and performs her dreamy speeches (“Everyday I pray to God to give me horses”) with utmost conviction. Facing the racing challenge becomes a test of character. Velvet’s quiet self-belief enables her to overcome all obstacles, from nursing the Pi back from the brink of pneumonia, dismissing a snooty Russian jockey to take the reins herself, and inspiring Mi - himself traumatised after causing a pile-up at another racetrack - to become a better man. Not that Taylor completely dominates the movie. As her parents, Donald Crisp and the Oscar winning Anne Revere are superb, while Velvet’s sisters, avian enthusiast Malvolia (Juanita Quigley) and boy-obsessed Edwina (Angela Lansbury) are vividly drawn while kid brother Donald (Jackie 'Butch' Jenkins) provides much surreal comedy with his wacky musings.

The race itself is tautly handled by Clarence Brown, exciting and wryly humorous in the aftermath when stunned official discover Velvet is (gasp!) a girl. Aside from being MGM’s go-to guy for animal movies, e.g. The Yearling (1946), Brown was a respected filmmaker, a favourite of Greta Garbo, and ties with Robert Altman and Alfred Hitchcock as the director with the most Academy Award nominations without a win. Wisely, he does not end the film with the race but shows us the real mark of maturity lies in how Velvet copes with her sudden fame. National Velvet spawned a Sixties television series followed by the belated sequel International Velvet (1978), where director Bryan Forbes substituted Taylor with his wife Nanette Newman coaching new-child-star-on-the-block Tatum O’Neal to racing victory. There was also a made-for-TV movie in 2003, but arguably the film that truly recaptured its spirit was The Black Stallion (1979) wherein Mickey Rooney played a horse trainer not unlike an older, wiser Mi Taylor.

Reviewer: Andrew Pragasam

 

This review has been viewed 3259 time(s).

As a member you could Rate this film

 
Review Comments (0)


Untitled 1

Login
  Username:
 
  Password:
 
   
 
Forgotten your details? Enter email address in Username box and click Reminder. Your details will be emailed to you.
   

Latest Poll
Which star probably has psychic powers?
Laurence Fishburne
Nicolas Cage
Anya Taylor-Joy
Patrick Stewart
Sissy Spacek
Michelle Yeoh
Aubrey Plaza
Tom Cruise
Beatrice Dalle
Michael Ironside
   
 
   

Recent Visitors
Graeme Clark
  Desbris M
Andrew Pragasam
Darren Jones
Enoch Sneed
  Paul Tuersley
  Chris Garbutt
  Sdfadf Rtfgsdf
   

 

Last Updated: