BrianRxm Coins in Movies 75/115
National Velvet (1944)
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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".
 
The film stars Elizabeth Taylor as Velvet Brown, the owner, and Mickey Rooney as Mi Taylor, the trainer,
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.
 
British gold sovereigns and shillings are shown in the film and they appear to be real.
 
The Grand National is an annual horse race held at Aintree Racecourse in Liverpool in the Spring.
It is a steeplechase race with fences and barriers for the horses to jump.
National Velvet
1. Title
 
The film begins with the subtitle:
"England In The Late Nineteen Twenties - A Long Time Ago In A Spinning World".
 
In the small Sussex town of Sewels, located on the southeast coast of England, the Brown family
lives in a large house. Mr. and Mrs. Brown have a shop and four children, three girls and one little boy.
 
The girls are walking home from school and pass a candy shop.
The owner tells them "no more tick", or no more credit.
 
National Velvet
2. Three sisters - Velvet, Edwina, and Malvolia
 
Malvolia holds out a coin to show the storekeeper.
 
Velvet Brown, the youngest daughter, encounters Mi Taylor.
 
National Velvet
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.
 
Mi is surly and doesn't like horses, although he was once a jockey.
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.
 
National Velvet
4. Velvet meets the horse
 
The owner calls him a "pirate" and Velvet decides that "The Pie" would be a better name.
 
National Velvet
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.
 
National Velvet
6. Velvet finds a coin
 
She picks up the coin to give to Mi.
 
National Velvet
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:
 
Britain shilling 1933
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.
 
National Velvet
9. Mi measures the jump
 
Mi states that the horse could jump "Becher's Brook", a jump at the Grand National race.
 
The horse gets away from the owner and causes some damage in the town which the owner is charged for.
He puts the horse up for sale at a raffle and Velvet wins him.
 
Velvet wants to enter him in the Grand National, but Mi, who knows horseracing, tries to talk her out of it.
 
Mi becomes the horse trainer and he and Velvet begin training the horse.
Mi later comes to believe that the horse could compete in the race.
 
Velvet is determined and she knows that she will have to raise 100 pounds, the entry fee.
 
She tells her mother who asks her to come up to the attic where she shows Velvet a scrapbook.
 
National Velvet
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.
 
National Velvet
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:
 
Britain sovereign 1915
12. Great Britain gold sovereign 1915
 
Mrs. Brown tells Velvet to put the sovereigns under her pillow "for luck".
 
Mi and Velvet continue to train the horse for a year, then they are ready to do the entry paperwork.
 
The family sends Mi to London with the application papers and the sovereigns to enter the race.
Velvet tells Mi that she put a half crown in the bag as a gift for him.
 
Mr. Brown still doesn't trust Mi and bets his wife that he will not return, that is, that Mi will steal the money.
 
Mi heads for a pub catering to race jockeys which has a sign reading:
"It's better to have loved a short man than never to have loved a-tall".
 
Two hustlers spot Mi and start buying him drinks and suggesting that he keep the money and
bet it on the race.
 
National Velvet
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:
 
Britain sovereign 1888
14. Great Britain gold sovereign 1888
 
Mi finds Velvet's half crown gift which brings him to his senses and he rejects the offer.
 
Mi returns to Sewels and gives the race receipt to Mrs. Brown.
He also tells her that she has "five pounds change" which isn't explained.
 
Mi has a map of the racecourse and explains to Velvet where the obstacles are.
 
National Velvet
15. Mi pointing out the course
 
Mi continues to train the horse with Velvet as the rider.
 
National Velvet
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.
 
National Velvet
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.
 
The race is approaching and people are getting excited.
 
National Velvet
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.
 
On race day he takes her to the jockey area for the pre-race formalities.
 
National Velvet
19. Velvet gets weighed
 
Velvet gets through the process without being found out and heads for the track.
 
National Velvet
20. At the track
 
Velvet and Mi meet up with The Pie for the race start.
 
National Velvet
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.
 
National Velvet
22. Velvet faints
 
Velvet is taken to a medical dispensary for examination and the staff make a discovery.
 
National Velvet
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.
 
National Velvet
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.
 
Mr. Brown finds Mi packing his bags and later Velvet finds him gone.
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.
 
National Velvet
25. Velvet and Mi
Notes:
 
Cast:
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
 
Director: Clarence Brown
Writers: Theodore Reeves, Helen Deutsch, Enid Bagnold (novel)
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