Cast & Crew
George B. Seitz
A few days before he is to leave Carvel for Wainwright College, Andy Hardy convinces "Botsy" and his friends to buy his jalopy for twenty dollars. Assuming that his friends will soon pay him, the nearly broke Andy then mails a twenty-dollar check to New York to cover the cost of having his new car driven to Carvel. When his sister Marian states that her boyfriend, Jeff Willis, who has been charged with drunk driving, could drive the car for free if Andy convinced their father, Judge James K. Hardy, to give him a light sentence, Andy pleads Jeff's case. Although the judge suspends Jeff's sentence, he also forbids him from driving for ninety days. Andy's disappointment is soon alleviated when his estranged girl friend, Polly Benedict, calls to make up with him. Before reuniting with Polly at her house, Andy, an incorrigible flirt, asks Marian for advice on how to "make girls crazy about him" without the promise of fidelity. Following Marian's suggestions, Andy plays the "cool cookie" with Polly, who appears to fall for the tactic but is really plotting with her college-aged friend, Sheila Brooks, to teach Andy a lesson. While Polly remains indoors, Andy goes for a swim in the Benedicts' new pool and meets the sophisticated Sheila. After explaining that she is a psychology major doing research on "reflexes," Sheila surprises Andy with a kiss. She kisses him again underwater, then tells him that he will be considered a "panty waist" if his father accompanies him to Wainwright, as the judge has planned. Later, at home, Andy hints to his father that returning to Wainwright, his alma mater, might prove a disappointment, but the judge is too preoccupied with a case involving a young boy named "Tooky" Stedman to notice. To help his father, Andy visits Tooky, who crashed into a lumber truck while coasting down a hill in his wagon and is now suing the lumber company for failing to place a red flag on the truck's load. Although Andy agrees with his father that Tooky would not have been able to see a flag, and therefore could not have avoided the accident, he tells the judge that, unless Mrs. Stedman, a widow, wins the case, her house will be repossessed in two weeks because of Tooky's medical bills. Thus apprised, the judge, who postponed ruling on the Stedman case for two weeks so that he could go to Wainwright, cancels his plans, much to Andy's relief. Andy's troubles soon return, however, when Botsy and his friends, who have yet to pay Andy, crash his jalopy into a store window. Botsy and the boys, who have been ordered to replace the window, blackmail their way out of giving Andy his twenty dollars using a photograph that Botsy took of Andy ironing Marian's underwear. Now concerned that his check will bounce, Andy questions Polly, whose father George is president of Carvel's bank, about how much George likes him. Seeing an opportunity to further tease Andy, Polly "interprets" his queries about her father as a marriage proposal and "accepts." Sheila then twists Andy's flirtations into a proposal, and Andy leaves Polly's convinced that he has promised himself to two different women. Early the next morning, just before he is to leave for college, the still dazed Andy is summoned to the Benedict house by George. Sure that George wants to discuss his marriage to Polly, Andy reluctantly appears, and is overjoyed when George instead presents him with a new checking account, into which the judge has already deposited an allowance. Andy then is confronted by Polly and Sheila, who play an incriminating recording of him wooing them with the same lines. Feeling that Andy has finally learned his lesson, Polly and Sheila assure him that he is not engaged and agree to write to him at Wainwright. Moments later, Andy bumps into Jeff, who casually reveals that while he was riding a bike, he noticed a "no trucks" sign on the hill on which Tooky had his accident. Armed with this information, Andy rushes to the courthouse, where his father is about to pass judgment in the Stedman case, and the Stedmans are awarded their settlement. After the judge declares that he will be going to Wainwright after all, Andy, acting on advice from his mother Emily, levels with his father that he does not want him to go. Although the judge at first bristles, he finally understands that he is intruding on Andy's special day. Andy, who has learned that he cannot use his newly acquired car on campus, has already left for the train station, and as his parents are driving to meet him there, one of their tires blows. Using Tooky's wagon, the judge improvises a repair and they arrive at the station seconds before Andy's train pulls out. After a heartfelt goodbye, Andy boards the train and happily discovers that a pretty young woman seated near him is going to be one of Wainwright's first co-eds.
George B. Seitz
Frank Coghlan Jr.
Phil Van Zandt
Robert E. O'connor
Charles R. Moore
Agnes Christine Johnston
Edwin B. Willis
Andy Hardy's Double Life
The Hardy series was a pet project of MGM studio boss Louis B. Mayer, who fancied himself the guardian of American values and homespun morals. Several years earlier, the studio released a film adaptation of Eugene O'Neill's play Ah, Wilderness! (1935), a bittersweet comedy of coming of age in small-town America. The prestige production featured Lionel Barrymore and Spring Byington as the parents, Eric Linden as the teenaged son, Mickey Rooney as his little brother, and Cecilia Parker as a friend. The film was a critical and commercial success and helped boost Rooney's standing in MGM's stable of adolescent stars. It also served as a template for the kind of family picture Mayer wanted to make. Two years later, the studio acquired the rights to a second-rate Broadway play called Skidding, a courtroom drama centered on a Judge Hardy, to be played by Barrymore. Rounding out the Hardy family were many from the cast of the O'Neill adaptation: Byington as Mom, Parker as big sister Marion, and Rooney as son Andy. (Linden was also on board, but not as a Hardy kid.) George Seitz, who would direct all but three of the series, was brought on as director, and the order was given to beef up both the comedy and Rooney's role. Released as A Family Affair (1937), it proved to be a hit, and the studio decided to extend the franchise. Barrymore and Byington were unable to commit to a regular series, so Lewis Stone and Fay Holden were signed to portray Judge and Mrs. Hardy; the rest of the cast remained the same (except for an older sister, played by Julie Haydon, who disappeared after the first installment). The Hardy series became the most profitable in Hollywood history, made more so by its relative inexpensiveness to produce. And Mayer frequently used the movies as a benchmark, as when he held the programmers up against the top-grade Garbo vehicle Ninotchka (1939). "A Hardy picture cost $25,000 less than Lubitsch was paid alone [to direct the Garbo film]," Mayer carped. "But any good Hardy picture made $500,000 more than Ninotchka."
As the series went on and Rooney - thanks to his popularity as Andy and his big musicals with Judy Garland - became the country's number-one box-office attraction, the stories became more and more geared toward the son, with the Judge and family serving as sounding board to his teen crises. The Hardy pictures were also found to be great testing grounds for a parade of ingenues and newcomers under contract to the studio. Judy Garland, Lana Turner, Kathryn Grayson, and Donna Reed were all trotted through the streets of Carvel at one time or another. Andy Hardy's Double Life introduced another new face in what would become a familiar on-screen environment for her. Swimming champ Esther Williams was cast as one of Andy's love interests and given the obligatory swimming pool scene. Although reviewers noted she was a bit tall for Rooney and not much of an actress, she looked great in a bathing suit. MGM took note; within two years, Williams was starring in her own aquatic film extravaganzas, a series that proved equally popular with audiences of the 1940s. The film also featured a young lad named Bobby Blake, who became a popular child star and much later the adult star of In Cold Blood (1967) and the 1970s TV series Baretta.
In his "So Long, Andy" article of 1943, Bosley Crowther conceded there might well be more Hardy pictures after this one but insisted the next step "would seem to demand some realization of the big world in which he is now tossed." The follow-up, Andy Hardy's Blonde Trouble (1944), while featuring Andy as a college student, did little to acknowledge the big world outside. The penultimate in the series, Love Laughs at Andy Hardy (1946), at least made a nod to reality by depicting the young man as a war veteran returning to complete his education, but the bloom was definitely off the rose by that point. Perhaps the most significant change was that an older Andy no longer relied on the wise counsel of his father. One more picture followed, Andy Hardy Comes Home (1958), in which the character, now grown up and married with kids of his own, returns to Carvel and gets caught up in local politics. Judge Hardy did not appear in that picture at all.
Director: George B. Seitz
Screenplay: Agnes Christine Johnston
Cinematography: George J. Folsey, John J. Mescall
Editing: Gene Ruggiero
Art Direction: Cedric Gibbons
Original Music: Daniele Amfitheatrof
Principal Cast: Mickey Rooney (Andy Hardy), Lewis Stone (Judge Hardy), Cecilia Parker (Marian Hardy), Fay Holden (Mrs. Emily Hardy), Ann Rutherford (Polly Benedict), Esther Williams (Sheila Brooks)
BW-93m. Closed captioning.
By Rob Nixon
Andy Hardy's Double Life
The working titles for this film were Andy Hardy's Last Fling and Andy Hardy Steps Out. 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 Double Life." Esther Williams, who was a former freestyle women's swimming champion and the star of Billy Rose's San Francisco Aquacade, made her screen debut in the film. The Variety reviewer praised Williams' performance, noting that she showed "considerable promise," while the Daily Variety reviewer described her as a "looker...and a capable actress to boot." Williams became one of the top box office stars of the late 1940s and early 1950s. She became most famous for M-G-M musicals that featured her in lavish production numbers that showcased her swimming abilities.
At the March 4, 1943 Academy Awards ceremony, M-G-M received a special award "for it's achievement in representing the American Way of Life in the production of the 'Andy Hardy' series of films." For additional information on the "Hardy Family" series, please see the entry for A Family Affair in AFI Catalog of Feature Films, 1931-40; F3.1269 and consult the Series Index.