US Release Date: 07-22-1938
Directed by: George B. Seitz
- Mickey Rooney, as
- Andy Hardy
- Lewis Stone, as
- Judge James K. Hardy
- Fay Holden, as
- Mrs. Emily Hardy
- Cecilia Parker, as
- Marian Hardy
- Judy Garland, as
- Betsy Booth
- Lana Turner, as
- Cynthia Potter
- Ann Rutherford, as
- Polly Benedict
- Mary Howard, as
- Mrs. Mary Tompkins
- Gene Reynolds, as
- Jimmy MacMahon, Jr.
- Don Castle, as
- Dennis Hunt
- Betty Ross Clarke as
- Aunt Millie Forrest
Judy Garland and Mickey Rooney in Love Finds Andy Hardy.
I'm sure that even at the time of their release, the Andy Hardy movies were already considered old fashioned and a little corny. They don't represent the real past, but a highly idealized version of what we want the past to be like. It's been said that the town of Carvel, where the films were set, represented movie mogul Louis B. Mayer's idealized vision of his adopted country. With sixteen films in the series and the first 8 of them being released in just a 2 year period, you could almost consider the Andy Hardy films as the original family sitcom.
In Love Finds Andy Hardy, the fourth in the series, Andy desperately wants a car so that he can drive his girlfriend Polly to the Christmas dance, but he's only got $12 and needs another 8 to finish the deal. Further disaster strikes when Polly announces that her family is going on vacation for a month and won't be around for the dance anyway! A friend of Andy then offers him a chance to earn the missing $8 if he'll "date" his girlfriend Cynthia (a young Lana Turner) while he's away so that she doesn't hook-up with other boys. With Polly away, Andy agrees and asks Cynthia to the dance. As if Andy didn't have enough girl trouble, young Betsy Booth (Judy Garland) visits her grandparents, who happen to be the Hardy's next-door neighbors, and instantly develops a crush on Andy and hopes that he'll take her to the dance. To top off Andy's plight, Polly announces that she's coming back early and will be able to go to the dance after all!
These are the movies that made Mickey Rooney a star and it's easy to see why. He's a wisecracking, fast talking, little hound dog, who charms the girls in town and the audience with ease, while always ending up being responsible and doing the right thing. He and Lewis Stone make a great father and son combination and even with all the girls floating around it is their scenes together that are some of the best and warmest in the movie. Eric has complained about the lack of a traditional nuclear family in Hollywood films, but the world of Andy Hardy celebrates the family.
Despite being Andy's main girlfriend, Polly (Ann Rutherford), is overshadowed by the future starlets Turner and Garland. Although Polly does have this memorable exchange with Andy. "Why Andy, you forced that kiss on me," she accuses him. "Sometimes those are the best kind!" Andy replies with a line of dialogue that would never be said today.
Turner is the slightly trampier girl, which in the world of Andy Hardy means that she likes to kiss and cuddle. Her's is a smallish part, but true to her future fame, she does manage to look good in a sweater.
It is Garland though who steals the show out of the girls. She seems so young (although not as young as she's playing), so innocent and so full of future promise here that knowledge of the tragic life ahead of her gives the performance extra poignancy. Playing the girl next door, she displays an energy and an enthusiasm that is infectious. Naturally she is given a couple of songs to belt out and belt she does, with a voice that belies her youth and diminutive stature. They're not exactly classics, but Garland sings them with panache and gusto. The comic chemistry between her and Rooney is palpable and it's easy to see why they would be paired so often.
Maybe small town America was never this ideal and maybe nobody grew up in such a perfect family, but thanks to Andy Hardy and company we can always remember it that way.
A publicity photo with Lana Turner, Ann Rutherford, Judy Garland and Mickey Rooney.
I couldn’t agree more about this movies’ home spun charm. All the Andy Hardy movies presented small town America in a very Capra-esque manner. Carvel could easily be just up the road from Bedford Falls. The Hardy home and street was on MGM’s famous back lot. When the studio compiled classic musical numbers for 1974’s That’s Entertainment it was nostalgic but also a bit sad to see a middle-aged Mickey Rooney revisit the now rundown and neglected place he had called home for so many movies.
Scott is right about the scenes between Andy and Judge Hardy being some of the best in the movie. They seem like a real father and son. Stone was great as the conservative elderly father with a twinkle in his eye, often bemused at his son and the younger generation. “C’mon dad this is 1938 after all.” Andy tells his father in one scene.
Much is made about how old fashioned the Hardy parents are. They remember life before airplanes and automobiles. The judge hires a cook for Mrs. Hardy but worries about how to tell her. Not realizing she has wanted one herself for years. Andy’s rather judgmental older sister Marian and their spinsterish Aunt Millie round out the household.
Ironically neither Lewis Stone nor Fay Holden originated their roles. Lionel Barrymore and Spring Byington were the first James and Emily Hardy in 1937’s A Family Affair, which began the series. Even Andy’s sweetheart Polly Benedict was played by a different person. Margaret Marquis created the role that Ann Rutherford would make famous. Lewis Stone eventually appeared in 14 of the 16 Andy Hardy movies. He had sadly passed away before Andy Hardy Comes Home was made in 1958.
Lana Turner gets a few good scenes with Mickey but again I agree with Scott that Judy Garland steals the movie. In one of the all time great understatements she tells Andy, “I sing, you know.” The image of Judy and Mickey at the malt shop (see Scott’s review above) is an iconic moment in screen history.
Shot in just 19 days (with an extra week for Garland’s songs) and in theaters within 2 months, Love Finds Andy Hardy is a true classic and the best remembered of the entire series.
The Hardy family and Betsy Booth.
I am not as cynical as Scott, I believe there were likely some families that resembled the Hardy family. Some folks had money in 1938 and raised there kids with strong family values. It was probably easier to do so then as there were less influences and distractions than today. Even if the Hardys are in some ways an exaggeration, I am sure some families strived to be similar.
My seventeen year old watched this with me and asked why Andy always wears a tie? Today, hand held electronic devices are in every teens pocket. My son marveled at how long it took them to make a Ham radio connection to Canada. I guess this movie goes to show that teens have always been interested in communication devices. Cynthia constantly calls Andy on their old fashioned telephone to give updates on such innocuous information as the design of her dress.
Like Patrick, I found the nostalgia to be fascinating. Scott mentioned Garland's future, but I was struck by a line that Judge Hardy says to Andy and another boy, "Heaven only knows what this generation has coming?" With World War II about to start, that question has more meaning now than then.
Andy comes across as the ideal innocent son. He wants nothing more from his girlfriend than a hug and kiss. His father never corrects him for swearing as Andy never swears. He instead corrects his grammar when Andy calls a dollar a, "buck." Andy does lose his temper with his father in a great scene where he confesses to what he has been up to. Like most teenagers, he does not want to take full responsibility and blames his father for not just giving him the eight bucks, I mean eight dollars.
Andy Hardy lived a Norman Rockwell life, that was not nearly as dramatic as he made it seem. Even if your family was not as ideal, or your love life as complicated, you still see something very comfortable in these films. Andy Hardy lived a fairly sanitized life, and who at one time or another wished they had as well? I like to think that there are families as nice and wholesome as the Hardys. Who wants to live in a world where that is not even a possibility?
Photos © Copyright MGM (1938)