Love Finds Andy Hardy (1938)

“Dad, I don’t understand these modern girls…”

Synopsis:
While his girlfriend (Ann Rutherford) is out of town for the holidays, Andy Hardy (Mickey Rooney) is paid by his friend (George P. Breakston) to “watch over” his sexy girl (Lana Turner); meanwhile, the daughter (Judy Garland) of a well-known singer comes to stay with her grandparents next door to Andy, and quickly develops a crush on him.

Genres:

Review:
The fourth in the immensely popular “Andy Hardy” film series — which is often cited as the first real “sitcom”, before television took over this function — Love Finds Andy Hardy is generally regarded as one of the best of the bunch, thanks to the presence of young MGM starlets Lana Turner and Judy Garland. Garland, at the tender age of 15, is simply phenomenal, showcasing both her estimable vocal skills and her nascent acting chops; we truly feel for her difficult situation as a “tween”, not quite old enough to be of interest to boys like Andy Hardy (! his “charisma” continues to stump), but certainly old enough to want to be. Turner is appropriately sexy and petulant, but doesn’t really have enough screen time to register as a real (cinematic) threat to Garland, who easily steals the show. Meanwhile, film fanatics who haven’t seen the entire series like I have (ahem; I’ll admit to being rather obsessed with them as a teenager) can rest assured that they’ll get a sense of the essential formula, which remains intact here: starting with an opening court case — in which Judge Hardy (Lewis Stone, note-perfect) dispenses a resolution or two — the plot quickly unfolds to reveal some issue or concern Andy is dealing with, which dominates the storyline, and eventually includes a heart-to-heart with Dad; meanwhile, secondary plot elements relating to either Andy’s mother (Fay Holden) and/or sister (Cecilia Parker) recur throughout. While I’m no longer quite so enamored with the series — in truth, I found Love Finds… rather dated this time around — there’s no denying its charm and erstwhile appeal as perhaps the ultimate expression of small town ideals.

Redeeming Qualities and Moments:

  • Lewis Stone as Judge Hardy
  • Judy Garland as Betsy: “I’m too old for toys, and too young for boys — I’m just an in-between…”

Must See?
Yes, as a fine, representative example of the Andy Hardy series. Listed as a film with Historical Importance in the back of Peary’s book. Added to the National Film Registry in 2000.

Categories

Links:

One Response to “Love Finds Andy Hardy (1938)”

  1. Not a must.

    I’ll admit to being stumped as to what “historical importance” Peary may be referring to. For the most part, very little jumps out at me here to give it a solid place in cinema history. There’s a fair amount of mild bickering and squabbling, followed by “I’m sorry”s, in the Hardy household. Nothing particularly noteworthy.

    ~except, midway, the man-to-man talk between son and dad (who more accurately resemble grandson and granddad) is a rather solid scene: a well-written, refreshing depiction of how a father and son should communicate. It’s good, but one good scene doesn’t make a movie must-see.

    Much of what goes on here is irritating: Dad wants to discuss something with Mom – and she keeps interrupting him with what she *thinks* he wants to talk about (can’t she just let him get started first?!); Rooney is torn between two girls who, frankly, both come off more or less as drips; generally, there’s a rather slapdash feel to the whole film.

    Garland is, of course winning, but her role as a sidelines, fix-it gal is somewhat under-written. As compensation, we get to hear Garland sing, and that’s lovely – but ultimately Rooney is still given what he wants: his superficial preference for a pretty face. Ironically, love doesn’t actually find Andy Hardy at all.

    I suppose, next to Dad, my favorite character here is the new cook Augusta, played memorably by Marie Blake. She only gets one scene but she sure has spunk. I kept waiting for her to return.

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.