"I have no patience for people, young or old, who live in a democracy and try and wreck its underpinnings."
Third entry in MGM's wonderful Hardy series has Judge Hardy (Lewis Stone) taking the family to Washington DC. The Judge has been hired by the federal government to preside over a commission investigating utility monopolies. Soon he learns all about Washington's ugly side when lobbyists use the words of his daughter Marian (Cecilia Parker) to blackmail him. Meanwhile, Andy (Mickey Rooney) falls for a French diplomat's daughter.
Lewis Stone is good as the stoic Judge, but Mickey Rooney is the scene stealer. He brings boundless enthusiasm and humor to the picture but he also handles the dramatic moments quite well. He really was one of the all-time greats. In one of the movie's best scenes, he shows a bunch of rich kids how to do the Big Apple. My favorite moments from this series were the great father-son talks Stone and Rooney had. They have a couple here, one where Judge takes Andy to visit Washington landmarks and lectures him on rebellion and another where Andy unintentionally helps a defeated Judge figure out how to fight back against a frame-up.
Fay Holden is extremely likable as the somewhat addled Mrs. Hardy. Her best moment comes when she and the Judge talk about a time when Andy had diphtheria as a baby and almost died, followed shortly after by her father passing. These little sentimental moments are the kinds of things MGM did so well, particularly in this series. Cecilia Parker has the unenviable job of playing the most flawed Hardy, Marian. Some modern viewers might like her character the most because she was so flawed but she's easily my least favorite and I can't help but think part of that is due to Parker's performance. Marian and Andy make similar mistakes in this one but where Rooney makes Andy rootable, Parker's Marian comes across as difficult and petulant. Betty Ross Clarke makes the first of two appearances as Aunt Millie. I'm not sure why Sara Haden missed these two but she would return to the cast in Out West with the Hardys. Adorable Ann Rutherford shines in her few scenes ("Don't you ever think of anything else but grabbing people in dark corners and kissing them?"). Nice support from Jonathan Hale and Ruth Hussey as the villainous lobbyists.
An enjoyable entry in the series, mixing comedy and drama with a heaping dose of life lessons. Some of the issues examined here are patriotism, insurrection, and putting on airs to impress people. Judge Hardy does a fair amount of soapboxing, per usual. Many today won't care for what he has to say. Heck many back then probably didn't. But these sorts of views, be they old fashioned or not, are never heard in films today. It's one of the many things I find refreshing and even fascinating about this series, and "Louis B. Mayer's America" in general.
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