In this is the entry into the Andy Hardy series about a small town depression era family, Judge Hardy faces problems at work and at home. Powerful men in town are upset with his decisions ... See full summary »
In this is the entry into the Andy Hardy series about a small town depression era family, Judge Hardy faces problems at work and at home. Powerful men in town are upset with his decisions and want to see him impeached; his daughters, Joan and Marion, have romantic problems; and his son, Andy discovers Polly Benedict. As usual, Judge Hardy is concerned with everyone in the family and lends wisdom and calmness to all. Written by
The first film in the Andy Hardy series is actually a lot more different in tone, subject matter as well as cast members than the later films. Here we have Lionel Barrymore playing Judge Hardy who must fight off some higher ranked members of the city who want to blackmail him into approving a plant coming to town. They plan on using a scandal involving his daughter (Julie Haydon) while his other daughter (Cecilia Parker) strikes up a relationship with a new man. It's nearly impossible to watch this film without comparing it to future entries. Not only does Barrymore get the main role but we have Spring Byington playing Emily Hardy and of course in future films we only have one daughter. I think Barrymore is pretty good in the role, although I will add that I prefer Lewis Stone. I think Stone did a better job at making a character as Barrymore is pretty much just playing his usual, tough self here. I was a little surprised at the subject matter as we get a lot of talk about scandal and even a brief mention of suicide. What's really surprising, and in a way kills the film, is that the small town flavor just doesn't ring through because the city is full of some mean people who will scoop pretty low in terms of blackmail and various other ugly things. This ugly nature pretty much kills what the series was trying to be like and in many ways I think it's safe to call this a standalone film and pretend that the real Andy Hardy series started with the next entry. As I said, Barrymore isn't too bad but the rest of the cast are clearly trying to find what they want to do with the characters. I wasn't overly thrilled with Haydon who is a bit too wooden for me. Mickey Rooney makes his first appearance here as Andy but really doesn't have much to do. Sara Haden is also here as Aunt Milly but she too is pretty much in the background. This certainly isn't a bad film but in the end it's not that all memorable and in the end I think the series was much better off with the changes it would eventually make.
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