Love Finds Andy Hardy [1938]

It's hard to overstate just how corny and funny the Andy Hardy series of the 1930s and 1940s looks by today's standards--but that doesn't mean these films don't have a certain winning quality. It doesn't matter whether it's Mickey Rooney's winningly goofy blend of lust and innocence as a high school kid dying to make out with his girlfriend or his surprisingly touching man-to-man talks with his father, Judge Hardy (Lewis Stone). Think of this film as the precursor to "Archie" comic books, with its story of young Andy, desperate for the money to buy a car, winding up with three dates to the same formal dance. Rooney is engaging as the motor-mouthed (yet deceptively thoughtful) teen in pre-World War II, tail-end-of-the-Depression, small-town America: often in a coat and tie, always in a dandyish porkpie hat. This was the first film in this series in which Judy Garland appeared as girl-next-door Betsy Booth. --Marshall Fine

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