Literature / National Velvet

National Velvet was first a 1935 novel, then a 1944 film, then a 1961 TV series.

The story begins with Velvet Brown, a neurotic 14-year-old girl who wants nothing more than to own a stable full of horses. After her mother's swim coach makes an offhand remark that his piebald horse could win the Grand National (a real life horse endurance race), Velvet goes from obsessing over her collection of paper horses to wanting to win the horse in a raffle and train it. Once Piebald (King in the TV series) is hers, she and Mi become serious about racing. Velvet uses a fake name to compete, disguising herself as a boy, and when her true gender is discovered, she becomes a national sensation for reasons besides the racing.

In the film, Velvet was played by Elizabeth Taylor, in her Star-Making Role. Mickey Rooney starred as Mi the jockey, and Angela Lansbury appeared as Velvet's older sister. It was directed by Clarence Brown.

There was also a sequel to the movie in 1978, called International Velvet.

Tropes related to the metaseries:

  • Adaptational Attractiveness: In the novel, Velvet is a "thin as famine" blonde with crooked teeth and considered unattractive (until she gets on a horse). Elizabeth Taylor, of course, matched no part of that description.
  • All Girls Like Ponies
  • The Big Race
  • A Boy and His X: A girl and her horse.
  • Hollywood Genetics: Angela Lansbury and Elizabeth Taylor don't really look like they could come from the same family.
  • Ill Girl: Velvet has a weak stomach and generally frail nature.
  • The Merch: In-universe, Velvet is disgusted by the merchandise produced to make a quick buck off her new-found fame.
  • Pony Tale: Probably the granddaddy of all of them.
  • Sweet Polly Oliver: More so in-universe than out. Elizabeth Taylor with a short haircut and a jockey's uniform still looks exactly like a girl with a bob.
  • You Go, Girl!: The point is that girls can do great things, too.