National Velvet

  • Review Date: May 7, 2003
  • Rated: G
  • Genre: Drama
  • Release Year: 1944
  • Running Time: 123 minutes

Common Sense Media says

Great family movie; even better for horse lovers.
  • Review Date: May 7, 2003
  • Rated: G
  • Genre: Drama
  • Release Year: 1944
  • Running Time: 123 minutes

Age(i)

2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10
11
12
13
14
15
16
17

Quality(i)

 

What parents need to know

Educational value

Presents an idyllic view of country life in early 20th century England, and shows how different the rules were for women and girls in that era. Competitive horse-jumping is introduced.

Positive messages

Filled with simple positive messages, expressed in words and demonstrated by actions, including: dream big; take risks and enjoy the moment, but know when it's over and move on; "everyone should have a chance at a breathtaking piece of folly at least once in life." The importance of trust and honesty is stressed.

Positive role models

Despite some differences of opinion between them, both parents are ideals of supportiveness, reliability, and encouragement.  Velvet's mother is a prime example of early female accomplishment and recognition. Velvet follows in her mother's footsteps. A line early in the film, "You girls have only your faces for your fortune," is dispelled by the end. A young man, bent on dishonest behavior, learns a valuable lesson about trust and doing the right thing.

Violence & scariness

Some horses and their riders fall. None is shown to be injured or in real trouble. The young heroine is prone to fainting. She falls from and is thrown from her horse, but never hurt. She’s also frightened when the horse is ill.  

Sexy stuff
Not applicable
Language
Not applicable
Consumerism
Not applicable
Drinking, drugs, & smoking

 

The young man at the center of the story drinks beer in a pub. He gets very drunk, slurs his words, and staggers. Several men smoke pipes.

 

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that National Velvet, an appealing family film released in 1944 and set in 1920s England, presents two strong female role models, both of whom succeed in fields of sport that had not been previously open to their gender: long-distance swimming and British horse-jumping. It's a movie with strong messages about dreams, risk, determination, and honesty. The only mildly frightening moments come when the preteen heroine faints, when she falls from her horse, and when the horse is ill for a time. In one lengthy sequence set during the Grand National race, a number of horses and their riders fall (in wide shots), but almost all quickly get up; no injuries are seen or referenced. A young man confesses his responsibility for a riding accident years earlier in which someone was killed. The same young man is seen drinking beer with two cronies, and he gets very drunk.

Parents say

Kids say

What's the story?

When young Velvet Brown (Elizabeth Taylor) meets Mi Taylor (Mickey Rooney), the two immediately connect, bonding over their love of horses. He came to town because he found Velvet's mother's name in his late father's address book, but he has no idea what their relationship was. Velvet wins an uncontrollable horse in a lottery that she names Pi; she decides that Pi must be in the Grand National race and goes against the adults' wishes by riding him herself. She wins but is disqualified because she's a girl. Still, the family returns home in triumph, knowing that they won what was important to them. Appearance and endorsement offers follow, but Velvet knows that it's time to move on. So does Mi, who says good-bye to Mr. and Mrs. Brown. When Velvet hears that he's gone, she asks if she can tell him about his father, who helped Mrs. Brown achieve an important dream. Mrs. Brown consents, and Velvet races after Mi, catching up to him just as the movie ends.

Is it any good?

QUALITY
 

National Velvet is the story of dreams themselves, wise and foolish, big and small, realized and impossible, and about the way all of these dreams change those who are lucky enough to dream them. But it also deals with what happens after the dream comes true. 

The film also conveys the importance of faith -- Velvet's faith in herself, Pi, and her dream; and her family's faith in her and in Mi -- and the importance of that belief and support in making the dream come true. But most of all, National Velvet is the story of a loving family, making it a wonderful starting point for a discussion of the ways that families of all kinds can teach and support each other.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about why Velvet can't keep the prize, even though she won. What kinds of stereotypes about women were popular in the film's era? What kinds of stereotypes about women remain?

  • Why didn't Velvet want to make movies or do any of the other things people asked her to do after she won? What are the benefits and drawbacks of being a celebrity?

Movie details

Theatrical release date:December 14, 1944
DVD release date:July 11, 2000
Cast:Donald Crisp, Elizabeth Taylor, Mickey Rooney
Director:Clarence Brown
Studio:Warner Bros.
Genre:Drama
Topics:Sports and martial arts, Book characters, Friendship, Horses and farm animals
Run time:123 minutes
MPAA rating:G

This review of National Velvet was written by

Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are conducted by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.

About our rating system

  • ON: Content is age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • PAUSE: Know your child; some content may not be right for some kids.
  • OFF: Not age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • NOT FOR KIDS: Not appropriate for kids of any age.

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Quality

Our star rating assesses the media's overall quality.

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Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging; great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging; good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging; good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging; OK learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

Find out more

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What parents and kids say

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Teen, 15 years old Written byEmmaLu April 15, 2011
AGE
8
QUALITY
 
Great movie! Had positive role models and CLEAN!!
What other families should know
Great messages
Great role models
Parent of a 11 year old Written bytiger19511 August 2, 2009
AGE
6
QUALITY
 

A good movie for the whole family

This movie is a delight to both adults and kids, alike, especially if you like horses. It tells of the realization of dreams and the cost of achieving them. Velvet, a horse crazy girl, longs for a horse and falls for a questionable gelding. She meets Mi Taylor, who is looking for information about his dead father. The story tells of the work it takes to make a dream come true. Velvet has the support of her mother and the rest of the family. Mi starts out as a scroundrel but responds to the trust Mrs. Brown puts in him. National Velvet is a great movie to be seen over and over.
What other families should know
Great messages
Teen, 14 years old Written byHunterJumper13 December 23, 2010
AGE
2
QUALITY
 

Terrific movie for everyone

I loved this movie. As a horse owner, rider, shower, etc. I always enjoy critisizing equine-themed movies, but this one was correct in just about everything. A classic, Velvet Brown falls for the stallion, named "Pirate", or as she calls him, "The Pie". I read the book, and they change many of the details, but the basic story is the same. I give the movie 2 thumbs up :)
What other families should know
Educational value
Great messages
Great role models

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