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Love Finds Andy Hardy Review

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All-American teenager Andy Hardy tries to juggle three girls at the same time - regular steady Polly Benedict, adoring girl-next-door Betsy Booth and blonde siren Cynthia Potter, whom he's squiring over Christmas for best pal Beezy in return for the cash he needs to get his jalopy back on the road.

★★★★★

This was the fourth in a 16-strong series of films produced by MGM between 1937-1958. It was launched with A Family Affair, which was adapted from an Aurania Rouverol play entitled Skidding. Lionel Barrymore played Judge Hardy and Spring Byington essayed his wife in this opening episode, but they were replaced by Lewis Stone and Fay Holden for the sequel, You're Only Young Once, and they remained in situ for the next eight years, alongside Mickey Rooney as Andy Hardy, Cecilia Parker as his older sister, Marian, and Sara Haden as their Aunt Milly (who was twice substituted by Betty Ross Clarke).

The focus shifted between the family members for the first three films. But by Love Finds Andy Hardy, it was clear that audiences were primarily interested in the misadventures of the Carvel high schooler with a talent for trouble and the sense to know that his dad could always be relied upon to extricate him from the tightest of corners - providing they had one of their obligatory man-to-man chats.  



Forget James Dean in Rebel Without a Cause (1955). Mickey Rooney was America's first screen teenager. Andy Hardy was more curious than non-conformist and mischief rather than malice tended to land him in hot water. His eye for beauty was usually the cause of his downfall and the studio shrewdly used the films to showcase several stars-in-the-making, including Judy Garland, Lana Turner, Esther Williams, Kathryn Grayson and Donna Reed. Yet, Andy always found his way back into the good books of his forgiving steady, Ann Rutherford.  



 The franchise was essentially an excuse to teach the nation's movie-mad juveniles some civics lessons - hence the award of a special Oscar in 1943 for `its achievement in representing the American Way of Life' - and its blend of wholesome humour and folksy sentiment now seems highly patronising and archly conservative. But Mickey Rooney's ebullience ensures that the series retains its charm and still makes for entertaining viewing.

Mickey Rooney is cheeky as the 1930s high school rascal who finally comes a cropper of cupid in this charming MGM fourth feature around American family life.