Greatest Film Scenes
and Moments

National Velvet (1944)


Written by Tim Dirks

Title Screen
Movie Title/Year and Scene Descriptions

National Velvet (1944)

In director Clarence Brown's Technicolored, animal-related, tearjerker children's and exciting sports film, based upon Enid Bagnold's novel: [Note: a sequel remake was titled International Velvet (1978) starring Tatum O'Neal[:

  • the youthful glow of a violet-eyed, 12-year-old Velvet Brown (Elizabeth Taylor in her first starring role as an 11 year old), a horse-crazy young girl who lived in Sussex, England in the small coastal town of Sewels
  • the summer arrival of unreliable drifter Michael (or "Mi") Taylor (Mickey Rooney), who shared in Velvet's first view of a feisty, wild, unpredictable, and 'unbreakable' gelding with "the devil in him"; she was wowed and her heart skipped a beat: "Isn't he beautiful?"; Michael revealed his knowledge of horses by describing the animal: "He's got lots of vinegar, I'll grant ya. About 15.2 more nearer 16 hands, I'd say. He's got speed. Short back, well ribbed up. He's a nice mover, all right"; she ran after the horse, exclaiming: "What a lovely boy he is?"; when Velvet asked owner Mr. Ede the horse's name, he replied: "Name? He's a murderous pirate, not deserving of a name!"; Velvet proposed a nickname: "Oh, no, not Pirate. He's a gentle one. I'll just call him Pie. Oh, you're a pretty one, Pie. You didn't mean to run away"
First View of Gelding, Nicknamed "Pie"
  • when Mi was invited for dinner at the Brown's home, Velvet's mother Mrs. Araminty Brown (Oscar-winning Anne Revere) kept secret from Mi her past relationship with his father; Mrs. Brown confided in Velvet about how she had known Mi's father: "Way back. You know how I came to swim the Channel and have my pictures in the paper? It was Mi Taylor's father showed me how....He was my trainer. It was he told me what to do. Worked with me for months. Followed me in a boat. Leaned over and fed me. Breathed the spirit into me. Made me do it when I was ready to give up"; Velvet was excited when Mi was offered work and would live with the Brown family
  • Mi told Velvet that he knew a lot about horses but that he "hated horses" - "That's when you really hate something when you know too much about it"; he was reticent to talk about how he was an ex-jockey whose career ended with the death of another rider
  • the scene of the drawing during the raffle for Mr. Ede's gelding, "Pie"; Velvet was expectant, but then closed her eyes when hers was not the winning ticket (# 113)
The Raffle When Velvet Thought She Had Lost
  • soon after, Velvet had a premonition: "Sometimes it frightens me. I see things. I see things as big as life and think they're real. At this moment, I can see plain as day, the whole village coming here, bringing me The Pie. I suppose it's 'cause I want him so much"; and then she fainted when Pie was brought to her house; it was explained to her by her father why she was the winner: "Mr. Hallam drew a number that hadn't been sold, so we had to start all over again. Hallam's hand went into the bowl and out it came with 62, your number!"
  • the scene of Velvet's discussion with her supportive mother about entering the Grand National Steeplechase horse-race at Aintree (with an entry fee of 100 pounds), to prove that Pie was really a champion: "It's for The Pie. It's for the glory of it for him. With half a chance, he'll prove he belongs in the history books, not in the knacker's yard"; her mother claimed it was a "large dream for a little girl" but remained encouraging; Mi was asked his opinion and he was not interested: "It'd just be folly for nothin'"; Mrs. Brown replied: "What's wrong with folly?"; Velvet was supported financially (to enter the Grand National) by the prize money Mrs. Brown had won - and saved - for swimming the English Channel when she was younger and trained by Dan Taylor: (Mrs. Brown to Velvet: "We're alike. I too believe that everyone should have a chance at a breathtaking piece of folly, once in his life. I was 20 when they said a woman couldn't swim the Channel. You're 12. You think a horse of yours can win the Grand National. Your dream has come early. But remember, Velvet, it'll have to last you all the rest of your life")
  • the sequences of Mi's teaching of Velvet, through rigorous training, on how to ride the lightning-fast Pie and navigate the challenging course; and on the eve of the race, Velvet strongly urged Mi to ride The Pie, but he tearfully refused; he explained his past bad luck - during a race in Manchester, he had pushed his horse too hard and caused a collision that resulted in the death of another jockey
  • then, just before the race, Mi changed his mind and decided to ride The Pie, but Velvet had already determined that she would ride - wearing a bright yellow and pink jockey suit; shocked that she would compete, Mi tried to dissuade her: "The Grand National is no game for a little girl....And you'll get your stupid, silly little neck exactly broken...and 40 horses ready to trample you over! I'll not let you ride, Velvet! I won't let you do it"; but Velvet was sure she could do it: "The Pie will take care of me. Mi, please don't be angry. You know The Pie would burst his heart for me...He'll be enchanted, with invisible wings to go over every jump, if I ride him!"; Mi concluded that he would let her ride: "So now it's the glory of winnin' you want for yourself, is that it? You want to ride your race, take your risks and win. You want to win over them all, in sight of the world, Velvet Brown before the King and Queen, is that it? Yeah, perhaps you're right...All right, you ride!"
  • to aid her disguise, Mi cut her hair, at Velvet's urging: "The Pie won't mind you using his scissors on my mane. Go ahead, cut it quite short at the back"; as he clipped away, he warned of her future disqualification and the dangers: "You'll be disqualified at the end when they find out you're a girl. You'll have to forfeit the prize money. And even send you to prison for fraud. But if there's any trouble, you tell them that it was me who did it. You understand? It was me who put you up to it. It was my idea! I made you do it" - and then he offered a few extra tips: "If you're gonna ride, there's a lot of tricks of the race you have to learn. Don't worry about the start. Get off as fast as you can, and jump sure and clean....And you go twice around the course, that's thirty jumps in all..."
The Grand National Steeplechase
Velvet's Disguise:
Cropped Short Hair
The Start of the Race
Velvet the Victor
  • the exciting climactic Grand National Steeplechase horse racing sequence (with 32 entrants racing the 4.5 mile course with 30 jumps), in which Velvet was the one to ride The Pie; although she had the "longest odds" - 100-to-1, she eventually won the race, but there was a "rules infraction" when she fell to the ground before reaching the enclosure; an objection flag went up and the incident was investigated, and Velvet was predictably disqualified because she was a girl: (Newspaper Headlines: "WINNER AT AINTREE DECLARED FEMININE...MASQUERADE AS JOCKEY IS REVEALED"); however, her 'winning' horse soon became famous and was renamed 'National Velvet'
  • in the conclusion, after Mi had left without saying goodbye, Velvet rushed after him (riding on Pie) to tell him the film's central secret - before she left, she described her intentions to her parents - to tell Mi of his history and connections with their family: (Velvet: "Now shouldn't he know, Mother?... Let me tell him, Mother. He can't be far up the road. The Pie could find him") - Mi's now-deceased father was Mrs. Brown's inspiring trainer-coach when as a former swimmer at the age of 20, she became the first woman to swim the English Channel; the film's last words were Velvet's calls of: "Mi! Mi!"

Velvet Brown (Elizabeth Taylor)

Michael ("Mi") Taylor (Mickey Rooney)

After Losing, Velvet's Premonition That She Would Still Win Pie in the Raffle

Velvet Speaking with Her Mother (Anne Revere) About Entering the Grand National Steeplechase

Training for the Grand National Track Obstacles

Headlines Describing Velvet's Disqualification After Winning

The Ending: Mi's Departure - and Velvet's Intentions to Ride After Him - To Tell Him of His Father's History


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