After dogs and horses, I guess I love film and photographs as an art form more than anything else.. I love good films, how they are made, who their directors are, the writers, the fashion, but most of all, the stars themselves. I think a good movie will reflect the culture in which it was made. I also believe a great movie fills what an audience needs at the time. A film maker is judged by how accurately he makes that judgement call. Tonight, the Academy Awards is being televised. I usually love to watch it. I was just settling in. Suddenly, on an imulse, I flipped over to TCM (Turner Classic Movies). I found a film had just begun that happened to be among my absolute favorites. I wanted to stop everything and watch it. That is exactly what I did. I had no power whatsoever to resist it. The movie was National Valvet. It was made in 1944, and in color. It starred Elizabeth Taylor in one of her earliest movies (her fifth). It also featured a very young Mickey Rooney. Also featured was Anne Revere, who won a Best Supporting Actress Oscar for her noble performance as the simple mother who encouraged her young daughter to ride her horse, The Pie, in the Grand National Steeplechase Race. As it was, she shared the story with her daughter that she had swam the English Channel when she was just a teen-ager and wanted Velvet to experience something special and comparable for herself. Another treasure in the film is the debut of Angela Landsbury in her first film role as Velvet’s eldest sister. You can find a lot of quotes on the Internet from National Velvet but the one that is my absolute favorite is not there. There is a very similar one, almost verbatim, in the film, Black Beauty, by the young mistress who loves him. It goes something like: I would as soon not go to heaven than see The Pie unhappy.
That about sums it up for the way I have felt and still do feel about the way I love my own dogs and the one horse I had the privilege to own in my life. The movie underscores the sentiment shared by so many young woman almost universally, that there is nothing better than a horse. To believe anything else is an illusion.
When I think of my own life and the dogs and horse I owned, I diminish in worth compared to theirs. They are so precious and dear to me. It is that by loving them, somehow I am loved in the way I was never loved by those who failed to love me. Or, it is that by loving them, it does not really matter anymore that significant others did not love me. My ability to love my horse and my dogs became my victory over pain and rejection, my gift to myself when others took away their gifts: my joys, my acceptance, and then even God himself, who took even more from me….. as in the death of Opal…… the loss of Bob.
Undoubtedly, National Velvet is among one of the best movies ever made for its drama, excitement, beauty and values. But not to go unmentioned, all of the Lassy movies, some of which Elisabeth Taylor also did a superb job acting in, are equally excellent. So, whether the Academy Awards are on TV, or the Westminster Kennel Club dog show, or another truly excellent movie, I think if either National Velvet or a Lassie movie appears on the TCM schedule, I will just change my plans impromptu and make myself comfortable. Truly, I cannot resist them.