National Velvet (film)

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National Velvet
PosterVelvet 01.jpg
Original film poster
Directed by Clarence Brown
Produced by Pandro S. Berman
Screenplay by Helen Deutsch
Based on National Velvet 
by Enid Bagnold
Starring Mickey Rooney
Donald Crisp
Elizabeth Taylor
Anne Revere
Angela Lansbury
Reginald Owen
Terry Kilburn
Music by Herbert Stothart
Cinematography Leonard Smith
Edited by Robert Kern
Distributed by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer
Release date(s)
  • December 14, 1944 (1944-12-14)
Running time 123 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Budget $2,770,000[1]
Box office $5,840,000[1]

National Velvet is a 1944 Technicolor sports film based on the novel by Enid Bagnold, published in 1935. It stars Mickey Rooney, Donald Crisp and a young Elizabeth Taylor.[2][3] In 2003, National Velvet was selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry by the Library of Congress as being "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant."


National Velvet is the story of a twelve-year old girl, Velvet Brown (Elizabeth Taylor), in Sewels, Sussex, England, who wins a spirited gelding in a raffle and trains him for the Grand National steeplechase aided by her father's (Donald Crisp) hired hand: a young drifter, Mi Taylor (Mickey Rooney), who claims to have found Mrs. Brown's name and address among his late father's effects. Mi loathes horses; when he was a jockey in Manchester, he caused a collision which resulted in the death of another jockey. Velvet's horse is named "The Pie" (short for "Pirate", the epithet given him by his previous owner due to his misbehavior). She wins The Pie in a raffle, and convinces Mi to train them both for the Grand National. The night before the race, Velvet senses that the Latvian jockey hired to ride The Pie doesn't believe he can win. Rather than give up the race, Mi imagines he will overcome his fears and ride in the Latvian's place. Velvet has other ideas; she masquerades as the jockey and rides The Pie to victory. Elated by her win of the race, Velvet faints and falls from The Pie just after the finish. An objection is raised for the jockey's not staying in the saddle until reaching the winner's enclosure. A doctor discovers the fallen jockey is "an adolescent female"; Velvet becomes a media sensation, declining an offer of £5,000 to travel to Hollywood with The Pie to be filmed because "he wouldn't like being looked at." In the final scene of the film, Velvet rides off to reveal to a departing Mi that his father was Mrs. Brown's coach in her swim across the English Channel as a young woman.

The film differs from the book in many respects, from the colour of the horse and its name (in the book the horse is a piebald, named "The Piebald") to the appearance of Velvet and her mother, both of whom have been glamourised into very different people. Velvet, in the book, is plain, pale and sickly; her mother weighs 16 stone—224 pounds (102 kg).


Production notes[edit]

An 18-year-old Gene Tierney, who was then appearing on Broadway, was offered the role of Velvet Brown in 1939. Production was delayed, however, so Tierney returned to Broadway.[5] Much of the film was shot in Pebble Beach, California, with the most-scenic views on the Pebble Beach Golf Links[6] (with golf holes visible in the background). Elizabeth Taylor was given "The Pie" as a birthday gift after filming was over.


  • "Summertime" - Elizabeth Taylor and MGM Studio and Orchestra Chorus Girls / Teacher


National Velvet currently holds a 100% 'Fresh' rating on Rotten Tomatoes.[7]

It was very successful at the box office earning $3,678,000 in the US and Canada and $2,162,000 elsewhere resulting in a profit of $785,000.[1]

Academy Awards[edit]

The film won two Oscars in 1945:[8]


Other adaptations[edit]

  • National Velvet was dramatized as a one-hour radio play on the February 3, 1947 broadcast of Lux Radio Theater, with Elizabeth Taylor, Mickey Rooney, Donald Crisp and Janice Scott.
  • In 1960, the film was adapted into television series which aired on NBC.
  • In 2003, a film version was made for television.[citation needed]


In 1978, a sequel, International Velvet, was released. The film stars Tatum O'Neal, Christopher Plummer, Anthony Hopkins, and Nanette Newman, who plays Velvet Brown as an adult.


  1. ^ a b c The Eddie Mannix Ledger. Los Angeles: Margaret Herrick Library, Center for Motion Picture Study{{inconsistent citations}} .
  2. ^ Variety film review; December 6, 1944, page 14.
  3. ^ Harrison's Reports film review; December 9, 1944, page 199.
  4. ^ Eagan, Daniel (2010). America's film legacy : the authoritative guide to the landmark movies in the National Film Registry ([Online-Ausg.]. ed.). New York: Continuum. p. 380. ISBN 978-0826429773. 
  5. ^ Tierney and Herskowitz (1978) Wyden Books. "Self-Portrait". pg.23
  6. ^
  7. ^ National Velvet at Rotten Tomatoes
  8. ^ "NY Times: National Velvet". NY Times. Retrieved 2008-12-20. 

External links[edit]