NATIONAL VELVET (1945) C 125m dir: Clarence Brown
w/Mickey Rooney, Donald Crisp, Elizabeth Taylor, Anne Revere, Angela Lansbury, Juanita Quigley, Jackie "Butch" Jenkins, Reginald Owen, Terry Kilburn, Alec Craig
From The Movie Guide: "Perhaps the only time Elizabeth Taylor's costar matched her visual scene stealing. He's a horse, albeit a gelding. One of MGM's most beloved films, NATIONAL VELVET was the picture that made a star out of Taylor. The place is Sussex, England, where radiant Velvet Brown (Taylor) wins a horse that she names Pie and plans to enter in the Grand National. With the help if Mi Taylor (Rooney) she begins to rigorously train the animal, though she hasn't the money to enter the National. But Velvet's mother (Anne Revere) has been saving money she won as a young girl by swimming the English Channel, and she parts with it so Velvet can enter the race. Velvet, Mi and the horse then go off on their adventurous quest for the Grand National title. The movie features one of the best horse racing sequences ever filmed, as well as a host of winning performances. Although Taylor had already made her mark in four films, this was the one that really thrust her into the spotlight. Surprisingly she was not the first choice for the role, as Katharine Hepburn, Shirley Temple, and Margaret Sullavan were all candidates to play it. Angela Lansbury finally got one young role that wasn't opportunistic --- here she's dreamy and romantic --- English peaches and cream. And Jackie 'Butch' Jenkins is an outstanding little brother, so ugly his cuteness makes you smile even hours after the movie. The film was remade as INTERNATIONAL VELVET starring Tatum O'Neal, and we grow ashen whenever we think of it."
NATIONAL VELVET won two Oscars: Best Supporting Actress (Revere) and Editing (Robert J. Kern). It was also nominated for Best Director, Cinematography (Leonard Smith), and Art Direction (Cedric Gibbons, Urie McCleary, Edwin B. Willis, Mildred Griffiths).