"Frankly, I doubt I am qualified to arrive at any sensible assessment of Miss Elizabeth Taylor," James Agee, the great Nation film critic, wrote in 1944. "Ever since I first saw the child, two or three years ago, in I forget what minor role in what movie, I have been choked with the peculiar sort of adoration I might have felt if we were both in the same grade of primary school."

"I wouldn’t say she is particularly gifted as an actress," Agee admitted in his review of Taylor’s first major role in National Velvet—when she was just twelve years old, no less. But "since I think it is the most hopeful business of movies to find the perfect people rather than the perfect artists," he argued, "I think that she and the picture are wonderful, and I hardly know or care whether she can act or not." Click here to read the full text of Agee’s review [PDF].