National Velvet (film)
Original film poster
|Directed by||Clarence Brown|
|Produced by||Pandro S. Berman|
|Screenplay by||Helen Deutsch|
|Based on||National Velvet
by Enid Bagnold
|Music by||Herbert Stothart|
|Editing by||Robert Kern|
|Running time||123 minutes|
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. 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).
- Mickey Rooney as Mi Taylor
- Donald Crisp as Mr. Herbert Brown
- Elizabeth Taylor as Velvet Brown
- Anne Revere as Mrs. Araminty Brown
- Angela Lansbury as Edwina Brown
- Jackie 'Butch' Jenkins as Donald Brown
- Juanita Quigley as Malvolia "Mally" Brown
- Arthur Treacher as Race Patron
- Reginald Owen as Farmer Ede
- Norma Varden as Miss Sims
- Terry Kilburn as Ted
- Arthur Shields as Mr. Hallam
- Aubrey Mather as Entry official
- Alec Craig as Tim
- Eugene Loring as Ivan Taski
- Jane Isbell as Schoolgirl Jane
- Matthew Boulton as Entry official
Production notes 
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. Much of the film was shot in Pebble Beach, California, with the most-scenic views on the Pebble Beach Golf Links (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
Academy Awards 
- Best Director - Clarence Brown
- Best Art Direction (color) - (Art Direction) Cedric Gibbons and Urie McCleary; (Interior Decoration) Edwin B. Willis and Mildred Griffiths
- Best Cinematography - Leonard Smith
Other adaptations 
- 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.
- Variety film review; December 6, 1944, page 14.
- Harrison's Reports film review; December 9, 1944, page 199.
- Tierney and Herskowitz (1978) Wyden Books. "Self-Portrait". pg.23
- National Velvet at Rotten Tomatoes
- "NY Times: National Velvet". NY Times. Retrieved 2008-12-20.
- National Velvet at the Internet Movie Database
- National Velvet at the TCM Movie Database
- National Velvet at AllRovi
- National Velvet at Rotten Tomatoes