Life Begins for Andy Hardy (1941) Poster

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An Atypically Melancholy Entry in the Series
sdiner8220 May 2002
Following his graduation from high school, a small-town teenager decides to try his luck learning about life and making it on his own in New York City. Where he encounters the death of a disillusioned, penniless young friend and the seductive wiles of a glamorous "older woman" he encounters at his office job. Not to mention the wrath of the censors (who forced the studio the change the cause of death from a suicide to a heart attack) as well as the Catholic church (whose Legion of Decency damned the film with an "objectionable for children" rating). Hard to believe that an episode in the ebullient Andy Hardy series caused such controversy, but it is this film's commendable attempt to portray the dilemmas of youth with honesty and candor (incredible for 1941) that make it the most durable and disarming entry of the entire series. As contemporary today as it was 60 years ago, "Life Begins for Andy Hardy" is blessed with, besides a refreshingly adult screenplay that evokes emotions unchanged by the passage of time, astoundingly "mature" performances by Mickey Rooney (for once underplaying) and Judy Garland (displaying a sincerity and warmth without ever singing a note).

Rooney's portrayal of a good-hearted teenager who decent instincts hardly prepare him for the brutal reality of survival in the "Big City" will strike resonant chords with anyone in a similar situation 60 years later. And, in addition to Rooney and Ms. Garland, sterling performances are contributed by the Hardy regulars (Lewis Stone, never more sage or heartrending as Andy's concerned father); the lovely Patricia Dane, as Andy's office co-worker and would-be seducer; and Ray McDonald, heartbreaking as a penniless aspiring actor reduced to living (and starving) in Central Park. A tacked-on happy ending and jarring lapses in continuity (indicating heavy studio re-cutting and re-shooting) fail to undermine the sweet sadness of this most unusual MGM drama--flirting with themes that would be dealt with far more candidly and cruelly some 20 years later in such innocents-lost-in-the-city classics as "The Rat Race" and "Breakfast at Tiffanys," of which "Life Begins for Andy Hardy" is a most poignant pre-cursor.
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A Good Edition to the Series
AL01-38 July 2000
Although I have enjoyed every Andy Hardy movie that I have seen, this is probably my favorite entry in the series. It is admittedly a departure from the usual light-hearted comedy of the Hardy movies, but in this case, it works.

In the film, Andy leaves his sheltered small-town life for the city of New York in order to decide whether he wants to go to college or directly join the professional ranks. Andy's dilemma hit home with me when I first saw this film a few years ago since it was a decision that I was facing myself. Many younger viewers will probably be able to relate to the issues and problems that Andy must deal with as he attempts to make the transition from carefree adolescence to adulthood.

Mickey Rooney gives a good performance as Andy Hardy, as does Judy Garland in the role of Betsey Booth. This picture is not as cheerful as most entries in the series, but the most melancholy aspect of this film is the fact that it is Garland's last appearance as Betsey. Betsey is one of the most entertaining characters in the series of movies, and it's unfortunate that she only appears in three of the films.

Overall, this is a very good, although different, entry into the Andy Hardy series of movies.
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Great advice about love from Andy's dad
ccmazz18 May 2002
This movie is worth seeing just for the advice Judge Hardy gives Andy. He explains beautifully why every unmarried person should be faithful to his or her future spouse, even before they ever meet each other.

It is interesting that the Legion of Decency objected to this speech. In 1941 such parental advice was so well known that it was not helpful to hear it in a movie, and it was dangerous to display sexual advice in the public setting of a movie. Keep in mind that the speech is so tasteful that we would not even call it sexual at all. Yet to them it was good, sound advice but far too personal to publicize.

In our time we have fallen so far from those wholesome principles that it would be very helpful to publicize them broadly. I am seeking a copy of this movie to show to my children and friends.
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My first Andy Hardy film
preppy-320 May 2002
Warning: Spoilers
Andy Hardy (Mickey Rooney) graduates from high school and decides to move to NYC to make a fortune. His ex (I think) played by Judy Garland, lives there and tries to help him.

**Slight spoiler in the next paragraph**

I've avoided these Andy Hardy movies like the plague for years...I thought they'd be really syrupy. This one sure wasn't! This is pretty dark and downbeat. A character even dies! Originally he committed suicide but the studio changed that before it was released--they felt that was going too far. Still it all ends happily.

The movie looks fantastic, the story flows pretty quickly...but there's too little of Judy. As Leonard Maltin said all her songs were cut out before the film was released! My guess is that they were too cheerful for the grim tone of this film.

All the acting is good--top honors go to Lewis Stone (as Judge Hardy--boy, do I wish I had him as a father!), Ann Rutherford (having a good time playing the "bad girl") and Ray McDonald.

Dark movie (perhaps not for the kids) but good. Worth catching.
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Sabotaged by the Censors
dougdoepke18 September 2008
There's some bite in this eleventh installment of the Hardy series. Unfortunately, there's also a forced retreat from any kind of controversial follow-through. In the end, the tried and true verities of small town America are once again affirmed, but then that is exactly what audiences expected from this pre-war version of Ozzie and Harriet.

What makes this entry more interesting is a dark side not usually seen in Andy's world of proms and parental wisdom. Vaguely bored with the prospect of a settled life, Andy leaves Carver to prove himself amid the challenges of the big city, New York. There he finds a more impersonal and risky life-style, but also glamor and excitement. However, his small town openness and honesty are quickly exploited by a gold-digging glamor girl, Patricia Dane in an excellent performance. At the same time, his in-bred good-neighborliness prompts him to risk eviction by sneaking a penniless youth, Frobisher (Mc Donald), into his hotel room.

Unfortunately Frobisher turns up dead in Andy's bathroom, a startling development for such a sunny series. At first, the death looks like a suicide, the boy being penniless with no prospects. It also looks like a hard dose of reality for Andy. More importantly, suicide presents a never-thought-of possibility for Andy too, since he's been struggling in a tight job market. Suicide would have added real weight to the story. However, the script is forced to revert to comfortable series form when it's discovered the boy died of natural causes.

Thus a potentially exceptional entry is turned into another series programmer. Apparently it was the Catholic legion of Decency that forced this emasculating change on the studio. What an excellent example of how the dead hand of censorship sanitized reality in the name of protecting the audience from that same reality. And, if memory serves, it wasn't until 1956 (Elia Kazan's Baby Doll) that a studio product was willing to defy the self-appointed censors and treat adults like adults.

Of course, in this movie, there's the usual lively, engaging turns from Rooney and Garland, along with MGM's customarily slick production values. Dad Hardy (Stone) works in his usual words of wisdom, this time on the virtues of unmarried abstinence of the unfortunate myopic type that ten years later would help fuel the Playboy, Hugh Hefner revolt. All in all, the series may have idealized a small town America that never was. But it also presented a picture of life as many wanted it to be and still do.
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The Big Apple takes a bite out of Mickey.
mark.waltz3 January 2011
Warning: Spoilers
After visiting New York in the previous year's "Andy Hardy Meets Debutante", the Mick is back there, this time for a whole summer while waiting for college to begin. He is reunited with his old buddy Betsy Booth (Judy Garland), whom it was insinuated he might romance in that predecessor. But now, Andy has his heart set on Jennitt Hicks (Patricia Dane), a receptionist at the firm he learns there is a job opening at. Jennitt is pretty, sophisticated, and isn't all quite what she seems to be. A visit from Judge Hardy (Lewis Stone) and investigation by Betsy brings all that out into the open. This segment is also more dramatic than prequels with the character of dancer Jimmy Frobisher (Ray McDonald) who had Andy's room at the boarding house he moves into as well as the job Andy is after.

The character of Jimmy is where the show's heart lies. Andy runs into Jimmy in the park, finds out he's homeless, and takes him in against the rules of the boarding house. Tragedy strikes, and along with the revelations made about Ms. Hicks, Andy comes out of this much wiser than he realized he would be after a summer in the Big Apple. This is a colder New York than usually seen on screen, and for that, this "Andy Hardy" segment rates a higher rating. It's still not quite *** (Good) in my book, but its **1/2 marks it as definitely worth a look with some very good qualities about it. I would say of the Andy Hardy films I've seen, this is probably Rooney's best performance, even if the two previous ones with Garland rank as more popular. Sadly, Judy fans won't get a big number out of her, as she only sings a "Happy Birthday" telegram a Capella.

There's no Cecilia Parker in this one, and very little of Ann Rutherford's Polly, or Fay Holden's Ma Hardy and Sara Haden's Aunt Milly. The goodbye scene between Andy and his mother is a bit embarrassing and overdoes it on the sentimentality. But once Andy finds himself on his own, he has some great growing up to do and that's where the film more than momentarily shines.
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Andy Hardy Spreads His Wings
bkoganbing16 December 2010
If one accepts the proposition that life really does begin a high school graduation than Life Begins For Andy Hardy in this film. This marked the third and last appearance of Judy Garland in the Andy Hardy series as Betsy Booth.

Mickey Rooney has just graduated high school and he's been offered a scholarship at Lewis Stone's old alma mater. But as he always is in these films, the Mick's at loose ends and he wants to go to New York to experience life. He and Polly Benedict have once again broken things off so Judy Garland does have a shot with him.

But Mickey's wanting to be independent and not sponge off Judy Garland's hospitality. He gets a room at a male single's hotel and actually meets the guy he inherits the room from, Ray McDonald a talented dancer. Mickey goes looking for a job and eventually does get hired as an office boy in a brokerage firm. That's through the intervention of Patricia Dane who figures he might be good for a fling.

With Polly Benedict in Carvel which you know will get going in the next film of the series, Betsy Booth in New York, and Patricia Dane leaving him with his tongue hanging out, Mickey Rooney is once again in romantic complications. Of course these are all typical for an Andy Hardy film.

What's not typical is someone dying in the film. Ray McDonald who was supposed to commit suicide because of his despondency at not finding work of his choosing had his death changed to heart failure. That was a bit freaky because Ray McDonald, a most talented dancer with his sister Grace died of just that at the age of 37 in the Fifties. Mickey dealing with that was definitely a growing up experience.

One thing I really did like was as McDonald and Rooney are discussing their lack of job prospects, Mickey starts thinking back to some of his high school friends who were working and he comes to the conclusion that these kids knew what they wanted at an early age and were career oriented which he wasn't. I know I wasn't when I was in school and that's something that is desirable, but it doesn't occur in a lot of us. Hopefully the kids in 1941 watching this film took note and it ain't a bad lesson for today.

Judy Garland had a bunch of songs written for the film and they all ended up on the cutting room floor. That's my big complaint with Life Begins For Andy Hardy. I'll bet the movie-going public was disappointed in 1941 when Judy did not offer a note.

In the Citadel Film Series Book, The Films Of Judy Garland L.B. Mayer said this was the best of the Andy Hardy series. It might have been better if Judy's songs had been left in, but it's a bit more serious than most of the Hardy series and holds up well.
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Life Begins for Andy Hardy takes a somewhat somber note in the series
tavm22 June 2015
It's almost ironic I watched this Judge Hardy's Family entry on Father's Day (yesterday) since for most of the film, Andy is away from his dad in New York City trying to make it on his own there during the summer after just graduating high school. Judy Garland-in her last series appearance-is there as Betsy Booth to lend him support though he doesn't accept her money to get by when he's initially jobless. He also has to deal with an aspiring dancer who used to live in his room and who is getting no offers. And then there's a lady in his new job who he seems to have fallen for...This was a more serious entry in the series with only a few laughs. Ms. Garland had filmed some songs as in previous entries but they were cut for supposedly breaking the flow of the drama. She and Mickey are the best thing in it and when Lewis Stone joins them, it's even more fun! Another touching father-and-son talk occurs in the restaurant scene. Oh, and I also liked Andy and Polly's goodbye scene. So on that note, Life Begins for Andy Hardy is worth seeing for those who like the series.
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I Left My Heart in New York City
wes-connors26 April 2015
Graduation night in Carvel finds Andy (Mickey Rooney) staying out past midnight, but having good clean fun. Calling from New York City, wealthy teenager Judy Garland (as Betsy Booth) wants another chance for romance with Andy. During one of his "man to man" talks with father Judge Hardy (Lewis Stone), Andy says he would like to make his way alone in New York for the summer, and reconsider going to college. The judge reluctantly agrees. His son moves to the city and takes a room vacated by aspiring young dancer Ray McDonald (as Jimmy Frobisher). Andy gets a job as an office boy and begins dating attractive co-worker Patricia Dane (as Jennitt Hicks). It looks like she may provide Andy with a "coming of age" moment...

Judy and Judge Hardy team-up to get Andy back in line...

This was the last appearance of Ms. Garland in "Judge Hardy's Family" and she is not used well. Having her wealthy character spend hours waiting in the car while Andy unpacks and looks for a job is preposterous. While reported to have recorded songs for her appearance, Garland sings only a few lines of "Happy Birthday". She and Rooney are so good together, it's almost criminal to see her time being wasted. Incredibly, Garland's presence weakens what could have been a much better story. Having Andy struggle in New York City, on his own, is a good story idea. The unemployed dancer played by Mr. McDonald is the film's main strength, and should have been more carefully developed. The "bad heart" addendum was not a good idea.

***** Life Begins for Andy Hardy (8/15/41) George B. Seitz ~ Mickey Rooney, Judy Garland, Lewis Stone, Ray McDonald
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"Gosh, I never realized before that a fella and a girl could be so frank and noble about things."
utgard1425 June 2014
Having just graduated from high school, Andy has to make some big decisions about his life. Judge Hardy wants him to enroll in his old college and study law. Andy's not so sure what he wants so, with the Judge's blessing, he decides to spend a month alone in New York City to experience life. But he quickly finds being a grown-up isn't all it's cracked up to be. He struggles at his new job, falls in with an older woman, and has to deal with the shocking death of a friend.

Atypical entry in the Andy Hardy series is more "adult" and serious. While I enjoy all of the Hardy movies and don't feel the need to put down on them for their homespun Americana, this one is a nice change of pace. It's also almost entirely Mickey Rooney, with Judge Hardy and the rest of the cast having relatively minor roles. Mickey Rooney is fantastic, though. Patricia Dane is good as the worldly gold digger. Ray McDonald is great as Andy's friend. Last of the Andy Hardy movies to have Judy Garland as a guest star. She sang some songs for this but they were cut, much to the horror of today's classic film fans. But I think I can understand why they were cut, given the tone of the film.

There are light moments throughout the movie, don't get me wrong. It's just more cynical and less innocent than other entries in the series. The writing's very good, as is the acting. Not your typical Andy Hardy movie but one of the most interesting. If they hadn't chickened out and changed the cause of death for Andy's friend I would bump it up a notch.
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A Lesson for Andy Hardy - An Entry to Be Skipped?
JLRMovieReviews12 August 2013
Warning: Spoilers
To begin with, it should be noted (and you'd know this, if you've read the other reviews) that "Life Begins for Andy Hardy" is far more serious than the other films in the "Andy Hardy" series. This film marked the third and final appearance of Judy Garland as Betsy Booth in the film series. As Andy Hardy moves to New York to find himself and a job, he starts to learn hard lessons in life. So given the fact this is a drama and not a comedy, it's not a bad movie. But it's not terribly great. At times, it feels down right depressing and downbeat, as Andy Hardy gets some hard knocks looking for a job, and ultimately this is not an upper for viewers who expected the always chipper and juvenile Andy Hardy. In fact, despite the fact Judy sang in the other two films she starred in, her songs that were shot were not used in the final cut. I can only think that (the filmmakers finally decided that) the presence of singing did not seem to go with the somberness of this film and would dilute its impact on the viewer. In one scene, Betsy sees Andy at rock bottom looking pale, undernourished, and ready to pass out. And, he befriends an aspiring dancer, who's had a history of sickness, and who ultimately dies. Death in an Andy Hardy picture! Say it isn't so! While I admire the intention to show a mature Andy Hardy, if I wanted to see more of the film series in the future in the order they were made, I would probably skip this one entirely as it is a complete downer, save for Judy Garland trying to breathe some life and humor into it, with her buoyant presence and passion. Watch and judge for yourself.
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A dreary movie, much different from other Andy Hardy movies.
Arthur Hausner4 June 2000
I found this movie to be a tedious entry, so different from the other movies in the Hardy family series that it took me by surprise and disappointed me. It begins on the night the previous entry, "Andy Hardy's Private Secretary (1941)" ended -- high school graduation night. Andy (Mickey Rooney) has a month to apply for a scholarship to go to college, so he decides, with his family's reluctant blessing, to go to New York, get a job, and see what life is all about. Judy Garland lives there and keeps an eye on him, but her talents are totally wasted. Judy doesn't sing at all (unless you count the few lines of "Happy Birthday to You"); Mickey finds the school of hard knocks so trying it was painful to watch his plight, which included an attempted seduction of him by an older woman (Patricia Dane) and the death of a friend. I hardly laughed at any point of this somber movie. I might have enjoyed the movie more had I been forewarned that it is much more of a drama than a comedy.

The National Legion of Decency classified this movie as unsuitable for children because of Rooney's scenes with Dane and his man-to-man talks with his father (Lewis Stone) about fidelity to one's future wife, whoever she may be.
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Somewhat Dark
mam5435 January 2003
For a traditionally family oriented series, this film had some surprisingly downbeat tones to it. Andy has an eye-opening experience when he pursues life in the big city.

Great performances by Judy Garland (as always) and Patricia Dane as the experienced older woman.
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Andy Hardy grows up...
MartinHafer13 April 2016
his Andy Hardy installment finds Andy graduated from high school and trying to decide what to do next. Judge Hardy wants him to go to college and then law school whereas Andy wants to go off to the big city for a month and see what life would be like working and paying his own way. Andy agrees to try this for a month and then reassess what to do next. Unfortunately for Andy, this is the tail end of the Depression and finding a job is not easy. But through it all, Andy refuses to ask his family for help and struggles to make his own way.

I would say this might just be the darkest of all the movies in the series, as it's not nearly as light-hearted as usual and, at times, is super-morbid...such as when one of Andy's friends is found dead!! But I appreciate the film because the usually feather-weight series takes a more dramatic and realistic turn. Well worth seeing.

By the way, this film marks the third and final time Judy Garland appeared in the series and Betsy just disappears after this one.
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An All Around Good Film
Michael_Elliott30 September 2009
Life Begins for Andy Hardy (1941)

*** (out of 4)

Eleventh film in the series is a pure delight as Andy (Mickey Rooney) decides to put off going to college even though Judge (Lewis Stone) feels that would be his best bet. Instead Andy travels to New York City to get a job and see what all life has to offer. He meets up with his old friend (Judy Garland) but quickly falls for a woman (Patricia Dane) who might not have his best interest in mind. I've read some critics who said this series handled dark subjects too lightly and perhaps that's true but that doesn't apply here. This film really shocked me at how mature it was and it even hit some rather dark subjects including suicide and what really makes a man. The movie has plenty of great laughs, some wonderful performances and an all around charm that makes this irresistible to fans of classic cinema. I'm still rather new to the series but the chemistry between Rooney and Stone is just marvelous and the two really come off as a real father and son. I'm not sure if it was just luck or if the two actors really did their homework but they are perfect together and really seem to know how to work off one another. This is certainly true during a brief scene at a table after Judge has come to visit Andy at work. The supporting cast is equally good and that includes Garland in her third and final appearance in the series. I've read she had four songs cut from the film but she doesn't have too much to work with except playing shoulder to Andy. Dane is the one who really surprised me because I thought she made for an excellent femme fatale years before that term would really take off. I think even those who aren't fans of the series would get a kick out of this one because it really does bring those "coming of age" issues up front and looks at them in a pretty serious manor. Even though there are laughs scattered throughout, for the most part the film is looked at in a serious way and this is a major plus.
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Work vs college. A dilemma for Andy Hardy.
Michael O'Keefe16 August 2005
Warning: Spoilers
George B. Seitz directs this hard hitting, downbeat and possibly the best of the Andy Hardy series. Andy(Mickey Rooney)makes a deal with his father(Lewis Stone)to spend a week in New York City savoring a slice of life before entering college. Andy discovers that finding a job and working is sobering and easier said than done. And some things will always stay the same ...when there is a nice looking female around; Andy is easily love struck. This is the last of the Hardy series to feature Judy Garland. Rounding out the cast are: Fay Holden, Amm Rutherford, Patricia Dane and Ray McDonald. The Andy Hardy films are so easy to relax with.
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