National Velvet

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National Velvet
Clarence Brown, 1944
USA | Format: 35mm | 123 minutes

Movies for Kids: Tickets for children, ages 4-12, accompanied by an adult, only $5!

Taylor was all of 12 years old when she landed her first starring role as the plucky Velvet, a girl from the English countryside (Pebble Beach, California, standing in for Sussex) who wins a spirited steed in a local lottery and begins training him (with help from jaded ex-jockey Mickey Rooney) for the Grand National steeplechase. Taylor the superstar is already in full evidence here, hypnotizing the camera with her famous violet eyes. The movie, beautifully crafted by Oscar nominee Clarence Brown, is a rousing adventure classic perfect for kids of all ages.

 “So far as I can see on an exceedingly cloudy day, I wouldn’t say [Taylor] is particularly gifted as an actress. She seems, rather, to turn things off and on, much as she is told, with perhaps a fair amount of natural grace and of a natural-born female’s sleepwalking sort of guile, but without much, if any, of an artist’s intuition, perception, or resource. She strikes me, however, if I may resort to conservative statement, as being rapturously beautiful. I think she also has a talent, of a sort, in the particular things she can turn on: which are most conspicuously a mock-pastoral kind of simplicity, and two or three speeds of semi-hysterical emotion, such as ecstasy, an odd sort of pre-specific erotic sentience, and the anguish of overstrained hope, imagination, and faith. Since these are precisely the things she needs for her role in National Velvet…and since I think it is the most hopeful business of movies to find the perfect people rather than the perfect artists, I think that she and the picture are wonderful, and I hardly know or care whether she can act or not.”
—James Agee, The Nation

“It has a rare and memorable quality: it touches areas in our experience that movies rarely touch—the passions and obsessions of childhood. It’s one of the most likable movies of all time.”
—Pauline Kael
 

Venue: Walter Reade Theater

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