National Velvet1944

Director: Clarence Brown
Stars: Elizabeth Taylor, Mickey Rooney, Angela Lansbury, Donald Crisp
Genre: Drama, Family, Sport
Rating: NR (Not Rated)
Runtime: 125 minutes

National Velvet This classic family film made a star of 12-year-old Elizabeth Taylor in the title role as spunky Velvet Brown, a girl who's determined to enter her horse, Pie, in the Grand National Steeplechase. Critic Pauline Kael called it "One of the most likeable movies of all time." Mickey Rooney costars as a young man who helps Velvet train Pie for the big race. At the last minute, Velvet herself has to ride Pie in the tournament and cuts her hair to pass for a jockey. Anne Revere won an Oscar as Velvet's mother, as did editor Robert J. Kern, who cut together a terrifically exciting horse race. Donald Crisp and Angela Lansbury are also featured as members of the Brown family. --Jim Emerson Black Beauty Don't waste this one on your children: buy it for yourself. A spectacular adaptation of the Anna Sewell novel, this is faithful to the source material but creates a life of its own on the screen. Told from the point of view of the horse, it recalls a time and a place that could be both beautiful and cruel. Black Beauty faced both hardship and kindness as he passed through the hands of many owners throughout his life. Some are generous, but the agonies endured by the title character may be too harsh for small children. Unfortunately, director Caroline Thompson did not resurrect her magical touch a few years later with another animal tale, Buddy. --Rochelle O'Gorman

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