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Love Finds Andy Hardy

Love Finds Andy Hardy(1938)

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Who will be Andy's date at the Christmas Eve country club dance in good old Carvel, U.S.A? That's the crux of the plot in Love Finds Andy Hardy (now on DVD from Warner Video), with irrepressible Mickey Rooney in his fourth of 16 outings as the quintessential small-town American teenager. The Hardy pictures were a regular showcase for up-and-coming young actresses at MGM, and in this case there was Lana Turner as a teenage temptress invited to the dance by Andy. Trouble is, he also has invited his girlfriend, Polly Benedict, played throughout the series by Ann Rutherford.

"I end up with neither of them," Rooney wrote, speaking as his Andy Hardy persona in his 1991 autobiography, Life Is too Short. "But I manage to go to the party anyway, with none other than Betsy Booth, a girl who was a real good sport and, boy, could she sing and dance, too, and just be, well, like a girl you knew and liked and could just talk to and be real with. I am writing here (I guess you've already figured this) about Judy Garland, who took this part while she was waiting for Arthur Freed to put together the team that would make The Wizard of Oz."

Rooney recalled Garland's "wistful smile" when the gorgeous Turner would pass her on the set, leading him to believe that Judy envied Lana's beauty and glamour. But Garland took a back seat to no one in the talent department, as she proves with her three numbers in Love Finds Andy Hardy: "In Between," "It Never Rains But It Pours" and "Meet the Beat of My Heart."

After her triumph in The Wizard of Oz (1939), Garland would return to the role of Betsy opposite Rooney's Andy in Andy Hardy Meets Debutante (1940) and Life Begins for Andy Hardy (1941). The youthful pair's sensational teamwork also was showcased in a series of legendary "let's-put-on-a-show" musicals including Babes in Arms (1939), Strike Up the Band (1940) and Babes on Broadway (1941).

The Warner Video DVD of Love Finds Andy Hardy sports a crisp black and white transfer with a minimum of speckling and dirt damage. The modest extras include a trailer gallery, trailers for this film, Life Begins For Andy Hardy, a Hardy Family promotional Christmas trailer, and a featurette, Leo is on the Air. The latter was a popular radio series in the thirties and the episode on this disc includes an extended audio clip from Love Finds Andy Hardy and two musical numbers from the film.

For more information about Love Finds Andy Hardy, visit Warner Video. To order Love Finds Andy Hardy, go to TCM Shopping.

by Roger Fristoe