Tag Archive: national velvet


Off to the Races

Family Movie Night

A few weeks ago, someone told me I needed to see Secretariat (2010).

Finally, I did and I really liked it.

Diane Lane in "Secretariat," image from IMDb.com

The movie follows Penny Chenry Tweedy (Diane Lane) as she takes over her father’s farm after the death of her mother. But a mare gives birth to a foal that is unlike any other horse. Suddenly Tweedy’s life is absorbed by this horse and his potential.

Once Red starts racing, a light bulb goes off, sparks flies, the horse runs like none other. At the same time Tweedy is missing out on her kids’ events and her husband wonders if she even wants to be married. But with a new-to-her trainer and a jockey who knows how to handle horses that like to run as fast as possible, suddenly Tweedy realizes she has a chance to win it all.

It starts at the Kentucky Derby on the first weekend of May. It is a day of big hats, big drama and a race that goes over one and a quarter mile of track.

This weekend is another day at Churchill Downs. Celebrate it by having a horse movie festival.

For the youngest members of the family, you could always go with the My Little Pony movies.

Another suggestion for the younger members is National Velvet (1947) starring Mickey Rooney and Elizabeth Taylor as a young girl who knows she has to ride a horse to win a big race. This is a good introduction to Taylor and the energetic Rooney.

Andrew Knott in "Black Beauty," Image from IMDb.com

For pre-teens, there is Black Beauty (1994), a story of one horse’s life and Flicka (2006) starring Alison Lohman as a girl who tames a wild horse. Based on books popular in the young adult genre, these movies connect us with the animals by how people interact with them.

If you are looking for a longer movie about horses, my favorite one from recent years is Seabiscuit (2003). The movie stars Jeff Bridges as a man who has lived through the worst a father can live through. As he picks up the pieces of his life, he starts racing horses. And one of his horses is incredible but moody. This horse runs every race in California and is incredible.

Foriegn movie poster for "Seabiscuit," image from IMDb.com

The story takes place during the Depression and a horse with a good pedigree but small in stature winning these races is a boost to the spirit. The movie is beautifully shot and tells a good story. It may not the complete story and the characters are not really as shining as we would like them to be. But this Hollywood version had me crying my eyes out over the solid performances put in by Bridges, Chris Cooper, Tobey McGuire and Elizabeth Banks. 

Until next week, see you in the rental aisle.

Let the world know about your latest pick for Family Movie Night and drop a note below.

Remembering Liz Taylor

Family Movie Night

By Karyn Bowman

A few weeks ago I began to plan what I was going to write about for that week.

The latest version of Yogi Bear was out on the rack and I had planned to compare this to the TV series I grew up watching.

That is until Elizabeth Taylor died.

Taylor, 1967, picture from IMDb.com

While she may not have been the first real “movie star” she was “the one.” Her presence was enough to draw you to her. Debbie Allen, the choreographer, said she was sitting next to Taylor at a dinner and was so overcome she could not look Taylor in the eyes. She could not see what some have described as the bluest of blue eyes, nearly the color of violet.  

There is –or was- no one else like her.

Taylor and James Dean in "Giant," Picture from IMDb.com

Taylor was a good actress and that is proved by her resume. Butterfield 8, Whose Afraid of Virginia Woolf, Cat on a Hot Tin Roof and Giant are just a few of her memorable acting roles. Cleopatra proved she could act in a spectacle.

Her parents returned to America in an effort to avoid the war in England. She began acting at a young age, starring in one of the earliest versions of the Lassie series, Lassie Come Home with Rodney McDowell and Nigel Bruce. It was not until a year later that she would find a way into the hearts of moviegoers with National Velvet, starring with Mickey Rooney.  From then on, she would never leave.

Taylor and Mickey Rooney in National Velvet, picture from IMDb.com

 

She played Amy March in the June Allyson version of Little Women. She also appeared in Life With Father and Father of the Bride.  Her beauty  glowed from these movies and then she would take acting risks in Giant, A Place in the Sun and Suddenly Last Summer.

Taylor and Richard Burton in "Cleopatra," picture from IMDb.com

She is as well-known for her love life as well as her acting. Seven husbands, eight marriages, notable pieces of jewelry. She was friends with one ex, remarried another before remembering why they split and forever mourned her third  husband.  

My memories of Taylor are from her blowsey years, when the weight refused to leave and she finally worked to do something about her drinking. I remember pictures of her at political fundraisers with then-husband Sen. John Warner in the mid to late 70s. Then there would be the photos in the early 1990s with her new husband, Larry Fortensky.

My mother would talk about Taylor’s years with Burton. Perhaps the only couple who could be compared to them today is Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt. They both have that star power, that magnetism. With Burton and Taylor, there was the realization that these two talented actors really loved each other but living together was another thing all together.

Taylor in 1998, Picture by Steve Granitz, image from IMDb.com

After 2001, Liz Taylor retired from acting, choosing to direct more of her energy to AIDS research fundraising and keeping contact with her friends and family. It is said to have her friendship was to be treated like a gem.  

That, my friend, is the best epitaph of all.

Until next week, see you in the rental aisle.

Let the world know about your latest pick for Family Movie Night and drop a note below.