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 ...
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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
When Lionel Barrymore's health confined him to a wheelchair and he was unable to continue playing the father in subsequent Hardy family films, M-G-M studio head Louis B. Mayer instead cast him as the irascible hospital administrator Dr. Gillespie in the studio's second most popular franchise, the Doctor Kildare movies. See more »
A FAMILY AFFAIR (Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, 1937), directed by George B. Seitz, may not be an early screen adaptation to what developed into a five season television series of "Family Affair" (1966-1971) featuring the likes of Uncle Bill (Brian Keith), Mr. French (Sebastian Cabot), and the three orphans, Cissy, Buffy and Jodie. This family affair in this case happens to be the screen introduction to an entire different family altogether, that of The Hardys from the small town of Carvel, population 25,000. Initially a Broadway play by Aurania Rouveral , it developed into this movie based on similarities and castings of Eugene O'Neill's screen adaptation to AH WILDERNESS (MGM, 1935) featuring Lionel Barrymore, Spring Byington, Eric Linden, Cecilia Parker and Mickey Rooney, who all were reunited into this little 69 minute programmer which proved popular enough to develop into a family film series. Before becoming relatively known as "The Andy Hardy Series," with some recasting and revisions, the central character for this introduction was not on Andy Hardy but that of Judge James K. Hardy.
Judge James K. Hardy (Lionel Barrymore) is a respected judge in a small town of Carvel, with a family consisting of wife, Emily (Spring Byington), daughters, Joan (Julie Hayden), Marion (Cecilia Parker); son or "kid brother" Andy (Mickey Rooney), along with their live-in Aunt Millie (Sara Haden). The story opens with reporters leaving the Carvel Daily Star for the courtroom where Judge Hardy adjourns a case and later signs a restraining order regarding the prevention of the construction of an aqueduct, causing Hardy to lose his popularity with the neighboring townspeople who oppose the judge with his old-fasshioned ideas. Joan, the eldest daughter, is having marital problems with her husband, William Boothe Martin (Allen Vincent). Marion returns home from college after being away a year, later introducing the family to Wayne Trent III (Eric Linden), a young architect she met while on the train bound for home. Then there's girl-shy Andy, about to attend a party, being asked to chaperone Polly Benedict (Margaret Marquis), a girl he has known since kindergarten. Further situations arise when political enemies try to ruin Judge Hardy's good name through scandals placed in the local newspaper to get him impeached out of office.
A FAMILY AFFAIR is more drama than comedy. The only moment of humor involves Marion and Wayne in a car stranded on the road without gasoline in the middle of nowhere, being pulled down by rope by another car on a curvy country road in high speed by a couple of drunks (Arthur Housman and Don Barclay). This scene is more suspensful than humorous, but lightens up the proceedings to follow. Mickey Rooney's Andy Hardy is here, but there's little of him or his antics to go around. Though the Hardy's have two daughters, only the Joan character is never seen nor seen nor mentioned in future installments. Cecilia Parker, with darker hair here as opposed to blonde, would resume her character in the series under the recast players of Lewis Stone (Judge Hardy), Emily Hardy (Fay Holden), Ann Rutherford (Polly Benedict), and sometimes Betty Ross Clark (Aunt Millie) before Sara Haden became a permanent fixture for the duration of the series. Others seen in A FAMILY AFFAIR are: Charley Grapewin (Frank Redman); Selmer Jackson (Hoyt Wells); Harlan Briggs (Oscar Stubbins); Sam McDaniel ("Whitey"), and Erville Alderson (Dave, the Bailiff).
While not a memorable as AH! WILDERNESS nor the Hardy movie series that followed, notably LOVE FINDS ANDY HARDY (1938) featuring Mickey with Judy Garland, A FAMILY AFFAIR comes as a sheer reminder to television dramady programs following the same stature as "Father Knows Best," starring Robert Young and Jane Wyatt, where Father is always around to help with family problems. Quite agreeable viewing, with sole interest in seeing Lionel Barrymore's take as Judge Hardy, minus any father-and-son, "man-to-man" talks with Andy as Lewis Stone did that would later make the series so famous . This wholesome Hardy series in fact did more for Mickey Rooney than any other performers. This is where it all began. This was the Hardy's family affair.
Never distributed on video cassette, A FAMILY AFFAIR, and other "Andy Hardy" episodes (1937-1958), can be seen and enjoyed on Turner Classic Movies cable channel. (***)
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