Andy Hardy

Andy Hardy

Andy Hardy was a fictional character played by Mickey Rooney in an extremely successful MGM film series from 1937 to 1958. The movies were based on characters in the play "Skidding" by Aurania Rouverol.

The initial Hardy film, "A Family Affair" (1937), was made before a series was contemplated. It featured Lionel Barrymore as Judge Hardy and Spring Byington as Mrs. Hardy, Andy's parents, and Margaret Marquis as Andy's on-again-off-again sweetheart, Polly Benedict. But when the series was launched, most of the cast was changed, with the notable exceptions of Rooney and Sara Haden as his Aunt Milly. The series entries starred Lewis Stone as Judge Hardy, Fay Holden as Mrs. Hardy, Cecilia Parker as Andy's older sister Marian Hardy, and Ann Rutherford as Polly.

Most of the movies were set in the Hardys' fictional hometown of Carvel. All of them were sentimental comedies celebrating ordinary American life. The people in Carvel, by and large, were pious, patriotic, generous and tolerant. The town represented movie mogul Louis B. Mayer's idealized vision of his adopted country. Some writers have compared Carvel to Mayberry, the setting of "The Andy Griffith Show" a generation later.

The early movies focused on the Hardy family as a whole, but the character Andy soon became the center of the series, and his name was featured in most of the titles. They were a big factor in Rooney's rise to stardom.

Though many of the plots revolved around teenager Andy's romantic misadventures, the central relationship in the movies was between Andy and his father. Judge Hardy, played by the grandfatherly-looking Stone, was a man of absolute morality and integrity, but behind his stern demeanor was a gentle humanitarian with a droll sense of humor. A typical plot involved Andy getting into minor trouble with money or girls, usually because of youthful selfishness and a slight willingness to fudge the truth. But after a "man-to-man" talk with his father, Andy would listen to his own better nature and do the right thing, assuring a happy ending.

In three films, Rooney was paired with Judy Garland, beginning with "Love Finds Andy Hardy", and continuing with "Andy Hardy Meets Debutante" and "Life Begins for Andy Hardy". The Andy Hardy series also served as a platform for MGM to introduce new performers, some of whom became stars themselves. As examples, "Love Finds Andy Hardy" featured Lana Turner in one of her first film appearances, while "Andy Hardy's Private Secretary" launched Kathryn Grayson's movie career, and "Andy Hardy's Double Life" marked the screen debut of Esther Williams.

Rooney grew up with the film series. The series ended with "Love Laughs at Andy Hardy", which had Hardy returning to civilian life after fighting in World War II. An attempt at reviving the series with an older, wiser Andy was made in 1958 with "Andy Hardy Comes Home", but a new series failed to emerge. Thus, the series ended with a "To Be Continued" which has yet to be continued.

There were also a number of public service announcements involving the Andy Hardy character and his father. A notable example had Andy Hardy trying to convince his father to give him $200 for a car. Instead, his father takes him on a tour of several charities that need the money more. After each visit to a charity, the car Andy wants to buy becomes more and more decrepit.

Filmography

# "A Family Affair" (1937)
# "You're Only Young Once" (1937)
# "Judge Hardy's Children" (1938)
# "Love Finds Andy Hardy" (1938)
# "Out West with the Hardys" (1938)
# "The Hardys Ride High" (1939)
# "Andy Hardy Gets Spring Fever" (1939)
# "Judge Hardy and Son" (1939)
# "Andy Hardy Meets Debutante" (1940)
# "Andy Hardy's Private Secretary" (1941)
# "Life Begins for Andy Hardy" (1941)
# "The Courtship of Andy Hardy" (1942)
# "Andy Hardy's Double Life" (1942)
# "Andy Hardy's Blonde Trouble" (1944)
# "Love Laughs at Andy Hardy" (1946)
# "Andy Hardy Comes Home" (1958)

Other

* "Andy Hardy's Dilemma: A Lesson in Mathematics... and Other Things" (1938) -- a 19-minute public service announcement with Andy wanting to borrow money for a car.


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