Tuesday, May 06, 2014

Andy Hardy, you can't go home again

I received my copy of "The Andy Hardy Film Collection Volume 2" in the mail yesterday, and I went right to the end, with "Andy Hardy Comes Home" from 1958. Now a lawyer for Gordon Aircraft in Los Angeles, Andy comes home to Carvel, having talked his bosses into building an aircraft plant in town. It will bring jobs to the area and help the town grow.

"I'm totally sure this time that my elaborate plans will not go awry!"
Andy has apparently not learned much since the last movie, because this time his plan ends up alienating most of his home town, mostly thanks to a crooked land owner who turns the town council against him. Of course he plows ahead without thinking ahead, and almost loses his job when not one but two schemes fall to pieces. In the end, of course, Andy prevails, and ends up deciding to move back to Carvel and take a judgeship that has just been offered to him, thus following in his esteemed father's footsteps.

Pictured: possibly best movie dad of all time.
The movie seems to have been a set up for further movies, or possibly a TV series, because the end title card says "To Be Continued..." We never heard from Andy Hardy again, however, and to my mind that's not entirely a bad thing.

How have the Hardy family aged? Well, let's take a look.

"Should I pause to consider the consequences that will entail if my plans go awry? Nah!"
Mother Hardy is just the same, fluttery and sweet and slightly daffy. She's still terrified of telegrams. One hopes she has learned to balance her checkbook better.

Aunt Millie is still living with Mrs. Hardy. Marian shows up only occasionally, usually followed by her son Jim, played by Johnny Weissmuller, Jr., in what I assume was a bit of stunt casting, since he is roughly twice the size of his diminutive Uncle Andy.

The huge gaping hole in the film is the absence of Judge Hardy, played by Lewis Stone, who had passed away in 1953. Rest assured, he is not forgotten, especially since a life size, rather grim looking portrait of him hangs over the fireplace in his study, glaring down at Andy and Andy Jr.(played by Mickey's son Teddy, who is cute as a button) when they have their own "man-to-man talk." I may have choked up a little when Andy goes into the study (the whole house is exactly the same) and his father is not there to greet him.

(Also absent are Polly Benedict, Betsy Booth, and the original Beezy. Although there are some flashback clips.)

The late Judge, Andy's own children, and his nephew's "cool" teeny bopper friends (whom Andy does not "get" at all) all serve to emphasize that Andy is a grown man now. And therein lies the flaw in this movie: Andy Hardy should never have grown up. It's just not right. Instead of getting into silly troubles with girls or his jalopy or some other harmless misunderstanding, Andy now attends town council meetings, negotiates contracts, and worries about how he will support his family if he loses his job. All realistic concerns in a grown up world...but it's not really a world in which Andy belongs.

"Son, don't grow up. It's a trap."