#181) Love Finds Andy Hardy (1938)

Love_Finds_Andy_Hardy_1938_poster

#181) Love Finds Andy Hardy (1938)

OR “Oh Mickey, What a Pity, You Don’t Understand”

Directed by George B. Seitz

Written by William Ludwig. Based on the stories by Vivien R. Bretherton and the characters created by Aurania Rouverol.

Class of 2000

The Plot: Ideal, small-town all-American boy Andy Hardy (Mickey Rooney) puts a down payment on a used car so he can drive his girlfriend Polly (Ann Rutherford) to the Christmas Eve dance. When Polly learns that she’ll be out of town, Andy decides to take his best friend’s girl Cynthia (Lana Turner) instead. Later, Polly becomes available, and Andy has two dates to the same dance! Added to the mix is Betsy (Judy Garland), a young girl visiting for the holidays who is obviously in love with Andy, but keeps getting ignored by him. Andy’s father, Judge James Hardy (Lewis Stone) is on hand as always to offer advice, except for anything that would be respectful to the women in this triangle.

Why It Matters: No official reason is made in the NFR write-up, but an essay by writer Charlie Achuff gives a detailed defense to the film’s historical impact.

But Does It Really?: This is definitely on the “historical significance” side of things. The Achuff essay expands upon what this film has going for it: the popularity of the Andy Hardy series, the launchpad for Mickey Rooney’s stardom, and the star-in-the-making turns by Judy Garland and Lana Turner. But Jesus Christ is this movie dated as hell. Sure the film represents the ideal small-town values of the late ‘30s, but the “boys will be boys”/“all women are property” mentality flaunted by this film definitely doesn’t fly today. “Andy Hardy” gets a slight pass thanks to a compelling argument from Achuff, but purely as entertainment it’s an exasperating watch. I started to question if there’s a way the NFR can reverse their decision on this film’s preservation.

Everybody Gets One: The women of the Hardy family get the short shrift from the NFR. This is the only appearance for Fay Holdin (Emily) and Cecilia Parker (Marian).

Wow, That’s Dated: Here’s just a small sampling of the incredibly sexist (but okay in the ‘30s) things Andy Hardy says in this film: “I can’t take money from a woman!” “After all, a redhead’s a redhead.” and the most groan-inducing, the exchange “You kissed me by force.” “Well, it’s good that way too!” This viewing came with a lot of groaning from me.

Seriously, Oscars?: No nominations for “Love Finds Andy Hardy”, but Mickey Rooney did receive a special Juvenile Award at the Oscars for all of his performances throughout 1938. Despite an additional four nominations (and another honorary award in 1983) Mickey Rooney never won a competitive Oscar.

Other notes

  • “Love Finds Andy Hardy” was the fourth of 16 films focusing on this family, and the first to single out Andy in the title. It was also the second of three Andy Hardy films released in 1938 alone! MGM cranked these films out faster than Tyler Perry!
  • Hand-stitched credits, you don’t see that kind of detail in film anymore.
  • Carvel, Idaho: Birthplace of Fudgie the Whale!
  • Andy can buy a used car for $20! I couldn’t get a modern estimate on that: the website I use labeled the inflation rate as “Laughable”.
  • Shout-out to Ann Rutherford, whose mention in my “Gone with the Wind” post didn’t make the cut. Not a lot of classics on her resume, but a welcome presence in any film. Even this crap.
  • Proof that the series was focusing more and more on Andy: Mom is written out for the bulk of the film.
  • Judy Garland’s character is an aspiring singer her wants to be like her famous mother. So….Liza?
  • Andy, will you please stop negging Betsy? You’re giving Judy Garland her life-long inferiority complex.
  • His best friend’s nickname is “Beezy”? As in “Fo Sheezy”?
  • Correct me if I’m wrong, but isn’t this the drugstore Lana Turner got discovered in?
  • Andy to Cynthia: “I’ll monopolize you.” What does that even mean? Never mind, just go directly to jail. Do not pass go, do not collect $200.
  • This is another movie for my “Die Hard” Not-Christmas list. The holiday setting is extra weird given that this film was released in July.
  • More negging! At this point the only satisfactory ending would be if Betsy kills Andy in cold blood.
  • Even at sixteen, Judy had quite the pipes. Her first song, “In-Between” is the ‘30s version of “I’m Not a Girl, Not Yet a Woman”. (That’s right, a “Crossroads” reference. Come at me, bro!)
  • Judy isn’t allowed to go to Clark Gable movies? But I thought she was his number one fan.
  • If Andy Hardy (and his now-sexist attitude) existed today, he’d either be a cable news commentator or the President.
  • Judge Hardy opines “Who knows what this generation has coming.” Another World War, Atomic Age paranoia, and unending love from Tom Brokaw.
  • And then everything gets wrapped up in a bow for the ending. Not exactly a Shakespearean comedy, but I’m already over this movie so who cares?

Legacy

  • There were 11 more films in the original Andy Hardy series, each emphasizing Mickey Rooney as he became a bigger star. A 16th film, “Andy Hardy Comes Home” failed to revive the series for a new generation.
  • Mickey Rooney and Judy Garland would reunite in two more Andy Hardy films, as well as several “let’s-put-on-a-show!” type films, most notably “Babes in Arms”.
  • Mickey Rooney was married eight times. That’s not really important to the film, I just like mentioning that.
  • Judy got her dream of a singing career alright…

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