National Velvet (1944)
The 1944 MGM film "National Velvet" is about a young girl in rural England who acquires
a horse and a trainer and enters the horse in England's top steeplechase race, the "Grand National".
and is set in the late 1920's with the climactic race being held on Friday, March 22, 1929,
according to newspapers shown during the film.
It is a steeplechase race with fences and barriers for the horses to jump.
The film begins with the subtitle:
"England In The Late Nineteen Twenties - A Long Time Ago In A Spinning World".
lives in a large house. Mr. and Mrs. Brown have a shop and four children, three girls and one little boy.
The owner tells them "no more tick", or no more credit.
2. Three sisters - Velvet, Edwina, and Malvolia
Malvolia holds out a coin to show the storekeeper.
3. Mi Taylor
Mi has been tramping around England doing odd jobs.
He shows Velvet the Brown's name in an address book which belonged to his father.
He doesn't know why it is there, and Velvet takes him to her house where the father hires him
for general work at ten shillings (ten "bob") a week and allows him to stay in the barn.
He left the profession after a racing accident which killed another jockey.
Velvet loves horses and the pair encounter one while delivering goods for her father.
4. Velvet meets the horse
The owner calls him a "pirate" and Velvet decides that "The Pie" would be a better name.
5. Family dinner
Mi has seen where Mrs. Brown keeps the family money bag, takes it back to his room, and while
counting the money, he hears Velvet enter and hides the money, leaving a coin on the bed.
6. Velvet finds a coin
She picks up the coin to give to Mi.
7. English shilling
The coin is a real silver shilling of King George V of the type issued from 1927 to 1936.
A shilling with King George V:
8. Great Britain shilling 1933 King George V
Riding out in the country, Mi and Velvet see the horse, Velvet's dog chases the horse,
which proceeds to jump a large fence. Mi is impressed and measures the height of the fence.
9. Mi measures the jump
Mi states that the horse could jump "Becher's Brook", a jump at the Grand National race.
He puts the horse up for sale at a raffle and Velvet wins him.
Mi later comes to believe that the horse could compete in the race.
10. Mrs. Brown shows her scrapbook
Mrs. Brown was once a champion swimmer who swam the English Channel, and her coach was Mi's father.
She won a prize of 100 gold sovereigns which she still has.
She pulls out the small bag of coins and dumps them into Velvet's lap.
11. Gold sovereigns
Some obverses of King George V appear.
These coins appear to be real and not prop coins.
One wonders how these unusual coins were obtained by a California film studio.
A British gold sovereign of George V:
12. Great Britain gold sovereign 1915
Mrs. Brown tells Velvet to put the sovereigns under her pillow "for luck".
Velvet tells Mi that she put a half crown in the bag as a gift for him.
"It's better to have loved a short man than never to have loved a-tall".
bet it on the race.
13. The hustlers and Mi
Mi shows the men the sovereigns and one man exclaims "there's Victorian stuff".
A British gold sovereign of Queen Victoria:
14. Great Britain gold sovereign 1888
Mi finds Velvet's half crown gift which brings him to his senses and he rejects the offer.
He also tells her that she has "five pounds change" which isn't explained.
15. Mi pointing out the course
Mi continues to train the horse with Velvet as the rider.
16. The Pie in training
The race day is close and Mi and Velvet drive a horse truck with the horse to the race.
They meet the jockey Mi has hired.
17. Mi and Velvet meet their jockey
The jockey expresses more interest in partying than racing and shows no respect for the horse.
The pair fire the jockey and are left without a rider as Mi tells Velvet that he has been afraid
to ride after his accident and can not find another jockey.
18. Bookmakers taking bets
Women are not allowed to ride in the race but Velvet decides ride the horse herself.
Mi helps her to look more like a man, including cutting her hair.
19. Velvet gets weighed
Velvet gets through the process without being found out and heads for the track.
20. At the track
Velvet and Mi meet up with The Pie for the race start.
21. Race start
Velvet's horse finishes first as most of the horses have been eliminated by spills or accidents.
She passes the finish line then faints and falls off her horse.
22. Velvet faints
Velvet is taken to a medical dispensary for examination and the staff make a discovery.
23. Medical discovery
Velvet and her horse are disqualified and she and Mi return to Sewels as celebrities.
Newspapers are shown which give the year and date of the race.
24. The Browns weighing offers
Velvet is getting all kinds of offers including Hollywood movie contracts which she rejects as
the long trip would be bad for the horse.
She realizes that she never told him about his father's connection to her family, and gets permission
from her parents to ride after him.
25. Velvet and Mi
Mickey Rooney as Mi Taylor
Elizabeth Taylor as Velvet Brown
Donald Crisp as Mr. Herbert Brown
Anne Revere as Mrs. Araminty Brown
Angela Lansbury as Edwina Brown
Writers: Theodore Reeves, Helen Deutsch, Enid Bagnold (novel)