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*** This review may contain spoilers ***
For "Willie" Baxter (or Silly Bill as his friends nickname him),
becoming a young man requires a change in identity along with his
voice. No overly boisterous Andy Hardy in Booth Tarkington's creation.
He's a basically nice young man, but confused about the ideals of life
and love. Other than dealing with a nosy younger sister (Norma Nelson)
and old fashioned idealistic parents (Otto Kruger and Anne Shoemaker),
he also now must deal with a crush on the "sophisticated" visitor next
door (Betty Field), a pretentious young lady who strings him along
while flirting with every available young man in town and a
sophisticated beau in Chicago. To impress the young beauty, Cooper
sells off his old jalopy for a newer model (with payments he can't
make) and "borrows" his father's tuxedo.
While Love Finds William Baxter, maturity finds Jackie Cooper, no longer the brooding kid pining for the love of dad Wallace Beery in "The Champ" and other sappy dramas. Cooper is far more likable than his MGM pal Mickey Rooney, whose ego controlled his sometimes frenetic performances. Cooper is far more identifiable and even with parents almost exactly like Judge and Ma Hardy, he's living a more realistic life than the Louis B. Mayer vision of the ideal family. Betty Field's pretentious character is the type of batty teen that may turn heads but ultimately seems phony in retrospect. Norma Nelson, as the snoopy sis, is funny in spite of being a pest, and there's never any doubt that the lives of this family are closer to reality than the Hardys.
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