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Film / Andy Hardy

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The Hardy family.

A series of 16 films made by MGM, about the homespun adventures of a Midwestern family: wise patriarch Judge Hardy (Lewis Stone), his wife Emily (Fay Holden), their daughter Marian (Cecilia Parker) and their rambunctious teenage son, Andy (Mickey Rooney). In each film, the family would find themselves embroiled in some minor trouble, only to be saved by the Judge’s good advice.

With their combination of comedy, sentimentality, patriotism, and beautiful starlets, the films were hugely popular in their day. There were a whopping 14 films made between 1937 and 1944, which turned Mickey Rooney into the top box-office draw in the world, launched the careers of several actresses, and turned the Hardy family into iconic portraits of “true Americans.”

After World War II, however, the mood of the country became more cynical and the films became derided for their corniness. The one movie made immediately after the war was a flop, as was a nostalgic reunion movie made in the 1950s. Despite their enormous success in their heyday, the movies, aside from those starring Judy Garland, haven’t been seen much since.

Andy Hardy films with their own work pages:

Other films in this series provide examples of:

  • Breakout Character: Earlier films in the series focused on the entire Hardy family, but starting with Love Finds Andy Hardy, Andy became the central character, so much so that the series is usually referred to as the "Andy Hardy series".
  • Chuck Cunningham Syndrome: The Hardys' eldest third child, a married daughter named Joan, disappears without a trace after the first film.
  • Early-Installment Weirdness: The series format wasn't really nailed down until the fourth film, Love Finds Andy Hardy, so the first three have some unusual aspects in retrospect. Also, several characters were recast after the first film. (Lionel Barrymore, who played Judge Hardy in A Family Affair, was replaced thereafter by Lewis Stone.)
  • Easily Forgiven: Andy gets the car and the girl.
  • Everytown, America: Andy's hometown, Carvel.
  • Grammar Nazi: Judge Hardy.
  • Happily Married: Judge and Mrs. Hardy.
  • Huge Girl, Tiny Guy: Andy and Coffey Smith (played by Dorothy Ford) in Love Laughs at Andy Hardy.
  • Large Ham: Andy.
  • Non-Actor Vehicle: Swimmer Esther Williams started a screen career with a major supporting part in Andy Hardy's Double Life.
  • Oblivious to Love: Andy to Betsy's crush on him.
  • Oh, Crap!: In Andy Gets Spring Fever when Andy realizes he has to perform in front of a large crowd.
  • Open-Minded Parent: Judge Hardy is this at home and a Reasonable Authority Figure at work.
  • Precocious Crush: Betsy on Andy.
    • Andy on the drama teacher, Ms. Meredith, in Andy Gets Spring Fever. He even asks her to marry him.
  • Recurring Character: Judy Garland played Betsy Booth in three films.
  • Revival: 1958's Andy Hardy Comes Home was the first Hardy film in 12 years and was intended to re-start the series, but poor box office ended up making it the final entry.
  • Status Quo Is God: No matter what romantic complications ensue, Andy ends each film in the arms of Polly, his regular steady girlfriend. Averted in the end by fiat of the actress herself. Ann Rutherford refused to return for the revival, Andy Hardy Comes Home, because she thought the High-School Sweethearts trope was unrealistic.
  • Statuesque Stunner: Coffey Smith in Love Laughs at Andy Hardy.
  • Work Off the Debt: In the classic Merrie Melodies short Hollywood Steps Out, a cartoon version of Andy gets into trouble, and as usual has to ask his dad for help. Since they can't pay the bill, Andy and dad end up washing dishes to the rhythm of the music being played by the band.