“I, too, believe that everyone should have a chance at a breathtaking piece of folly once in his life.”
With the help of an itinerant trainer (Mickey Rooney) — and the blessing of her mother (Anne Revere) — the 12-year-old daughter (Elizabeth Taylor) of a small-town butcher (Donald Crisp) enters her horse, the Pie, in the Grand Nationals.
Clarence Brown’s adaptation of Enid Bagnold’s 1935 novel features 12-year-old Elizabeth Taylor in her first starring role after notable supporting appearances in both Jane Eyre (1943) and Lassie Come Home (1943). She’s positively luminous, if a bit overly dreamy for a young woman presumably focused enough to compete in such a major event. Oscar-winning Revere is appropriately stoic as Velvet’s supportive mother, who knows first-hand what it means to chase a sporting dream despite all odds. Less engaging — though he tries hard — is Rooney as the troubled son of Revere’s former coach, who spends the entire film waffling between loyalty to Taylor’s family and a penchant for less savory pursuits. Ultimately, one’s enjoyment of this film will depend on their tolerance for its folksy charm and feel-good storyline, as well as their overall love of anything horse-related. (Call me a wet blanket, but all I could think about was when Velvet would fall and get seriously hurt. Does she? I won’t say a word.)
Note: Watch for Angela Lansbury — the same year as her debut in Gaslight (1944) — in a small role as Velvet’s love-sick older sister.
Redeeming Qualities and Moments:
- Elizabeth Taylor as Velvet
- Anne Revere as Araminty Brown
- Fine use of outdoor sets
No, though it’s certainly worth a one-time look.