Cast & Crew
George B. Seitz
Carvel judge James K. Hardy is confronted by banker George Benedict, who informs him that the judge's high school senior son Andy has bounced a check. The judge learns that Andy's check bounced because a check for fees signed by Steven V. Land, father of graduating seniors Kathryn and Harry, was not good. Soon discovering that the Lands are impoverished, the judge convinces the busy Andy to "hire" Kathryn to act as his secretary and give Harry the job of decorating the gymnasium. Steven, a well-educated former travel agent who fled Europe at the start of World War II, can only find work in a garage. In gratitude for Steven's help when Andy's jalopy breaks down in a rainstorm, the judge calls J. O. Harper, a friend in the state department, to try to get a job for the multi-lingual Steven. Mr. Benedict's daughter Polly, Andy's girl friend, is jealous of Kathryn, especially after she encounters Andy buying stockings for Kathryn to wear at graduation. As final examinations begin, the principal, Mr. Davis, announces that the governor is offering a $25 prize and a trophy to the student who gets the highest mark in English. Andy has a tough time with his final, while Harry breezes through. That afternoon, Steven learns that he has been offered a job in South America and must leave on Thursday, the day before graduation. Harry and Kathryn are happy about the job, but regret that they will miss commencement. When Andy realizes how disappointed they are, he secretly changes the date of the acceptance telegram from Thursday to Saturday. Later, when Andy gives Kathryn her gift, a telegram arrives from the state department stating that due to "the circumstances" the job offer has been withdrawn. The family is shattered. Andy asks Kathryn to come with him to his house and has a father-son talk with the judge, during which he confesses what he has done. The judge then explains that the exact date was very important because they were to sail in a group with a trade commission, but offers to contact Harper. The next day, Andy's aunt, Milly Forrest, who is his English teacher, tearfully reveals that he has failed his English exam and cannot graduate. Shattered, he goes home to tell his father, who angrily tells Andy that he was concentrating too much on graduation activities. Andy is so despondent that he wants to leave town until after graduation, but the judge says that he must face up to his failure. At a meeting the next day, Andy announces to the class that he is the only one not graduating and tenders his resignation to all of his committees. Harry, Polly and Kathryn try to console Andy, but he leaves, then sends his white flannel graduation pants to Harry, who cannot afford them himself. At the train station, Andy buys a ticket for the city and sadly watches workmen unloading the new car that the judge had ordered for him as a graduation present. Meanwhile, Harry and Kathryn show Aunt Milly that school rules allow students who fail a final exam to re-take it if their grades previously had been good. When Harry receives Andy's package he realizes that Andy is running away and goes to the station to bring Andy back. After Mr. Davis agrees to let Andy have another chance, Polly, Kathryn and Harry grill him all night, and the next morning he easily passes the exam. His happiness is marred, however, when the judge informs him that Mr. Harper has already hired a replacement for Steven. Andy then tells Kathryn, who has a beautiful singing voice, to sing a solo at commencement in place of his essay, which he now feels is hypocritical. The governor awards the graduation prize to Harry and, because he admires Harry's work decorating the gym, offers him a job as a window dresser in his brother's store. Finally, the governor appoints Steven as interpreter for the appelate court. Later, when Polly shows Andy what he thinks is his new car, he is chagrined to discover that it is really hers until the judge arrives in another one just like it.
George B. Seitz
Hal K. Dawson
C. M. "slats" Wyrick
John S. Detlie
Johann Strauss Ii
Edwin B. Willis
Andy Hardy's Private Secretary
Variety called this "a topnotch entry in the series... [It] follows the formula closely." And indeed there was a formula to these pictures, with Andy and his father (Lewis Stone) usually each facing some kind of problem which they ultimately resolve via insight into the other character's problem. Producer Carey Wilson, in a 1941 article for The New York Times, wrote that one of the "underlying cardinal principles" in devising the Andy Hardy stories was: "Don't include anything you do not know has actually happened to a family under circumstances entitling you to believe it happens or threatens almost every family of like domain."
The Andy Hardy unit at MGM was by now operating like a well-oiled machine, with the same crew and core cast churning out these pictures about once every three months. The pace slowed a bit after 1941, and the once-profitable series petered out in 1946 -- with one final reunion movie, Andy Hardy Comes Home, produced in 1958.
The innocent, wholesome charm of the series is emblematic of an American family life that now seems dated at best and alien at worst, and the films serve as true time capsules in this regard. Underscoring this point is the fact that a year after the release of Andy Hardy's Private Secretary, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences bestowed a special Oscar® to MGM "for its achievement in representing the American Way of Life in the production of the 'Andy Hardy' series of films."
At the time of this production, Mickey Rooney was essentially alternating between Andy Hardy pictures and other roles, back and forth one at a time. Just before Andy Hardy's Private Secretary, he starred in the hit film Strike Up the Band (1940), one of many pairings with Judy Garland, who was also an occasional "Andy Hardy" co-star.
Indeed, the Andy Hardy series often served as a way for MGM to introduce new starlets to movie audiences, and this entry was no exception: it marked the film debut of Kathryn Grayson (real name: Zelma Hedrick), who was all of eighteen. Hollywood took notice of the young beauty. Variety declared in its review: "Miss Grayson, scouted by Metro some time back and put under intensive dramatic and vocal coaching in the interim, ...displays a youthful and trained voice in her song numbers, but, more important, carries her acting assignment with assurance and ability. Looks like Metro has a name nugget in Miss Grayson." Within a year or so, producer Joseph Pasternak would take Grayson under his wing and mold her stardom in a succession of MGM musicals, much as he had already done for Deanna Durbin at Universal.
Also of interest in the cast are Todd Karns and Gene Reynolds. Karns, son of ever-present character actor Roscoe Karns, was making his film debut here. He would later appear in It's a Wonderful Life (1946) as George Bailey's younger brother Harry. Gene Reynolds, who plays the role of Jimmy MacMahon -- as he previously did in Love Finds Andy Hardy (1938) -- later quit acting to become an extremely successful television producer and director. He was a key talent behind the long-running series M*A*S*H, producing, writing and directing many episodes and serving as creative consultant through the run of the show. Reynolds won numerous Emmy and Directors Guild awards and served as president of the Directors Guild of America in the 1990s.
Kathryn Grayson died in February 2010 at the age of 88, but three other cast members are, as of mid-2010, still very much around. Gene Reynolds is 87, while Ann Rutherford (Andy Hardy's longtime girlfriend Polly) and Mickey Rooney himself are both approaching 90. Rooney has never stopped working.
Director: George B. Seitz
Screenplay: Jane Murfin, Harry Ruskin; Aurania Rouverol (characters); Katharine Brush (story)
Cinematography: Lester White
Art Direction: Cedric Gibbons
Film Editing: Elmo Veron
Cast: Lewis Stone (Judge James K. Hardy), Mickey Rooney (Andrew 'Andy' Hardy), Fay Holden (Mrs. Emily Hardy), Ann Rutherford (Polly Benedict), Sara Haden (Aunt Milly Forrest), Ian Hunter (Steven V. Land), Kathryn Grayson (Kathryn Land), Gene Reynolds (Jimmy McMahon), George Breakston (Beezy), Todd Karns (Harry Land), Addison Richards (George Benedict), Margaret Early (Clarabelle Lee), Bertha Priestley (Susan Wiley), Joseph Crehan (Peter Dugan), Lee Phelps (Barnes), John Dilson (Mr. Davis, high school principal).
BW-102m. Closed Captioning.
by Jeremy Arnold
Andy Hardy's Private Secretary
The opening credits are preceded by a photograph of the "Hardy family," and the opening title card reads: "Judge Hardy's Family in Andy Hardy's Private Secretary." Although the photograph includes actress Cecilia Parker, who played "Marian Hardy" in many of the films in the Hardy Family series, and some Hollywood Reporter production charts include her in the cast, her role was cut from the film prior to press previews. Singer Kathryn Grayson made her motion picture debut in this film. Grayson, a nineteen-year-old coloratura soprano who, according to reviews and publicity materials, had been trained by M-G-M for more than a year, appeared in many of the studio's films during the next fifteen years, most notably Show Boat (1951) and Kiss Me Kate (1953). Grayson received excellent notices for her singing and acting and the Variety review predicted that "Metro has a name nugget in Miss Grayson."
This film also marked the debut of actor Todd Karns. According to a news item in Hollywood Reporter, Karns, who was also nineteen, decided to change his name from Roscoe Karns, Jr., to avoid confusion with his well-known character actor father. For additional information on the series, please consult the Series Index and see the entry for A Family Affair in AFI Catalog of Feature Films, 1931-40; F3.1269.