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The film's working titles were Skidding and Stand Accused. According to news items, Richard Thorpe was originally scheduled to direct the picture, then Edwin L. Marin was set to direct, but he was re-assigned at the last moment to Married Before Breakfast (see below) and replaced by George B. Seitz. A Hollywood Reporter news item notes that Spring Byington replaced Janet Beecher in the role of "Emily Hardy" when filming began. A Hollywood Reporter production chart lists Hugo Butler as co-scenarist with Kay Van Riper, however, all other sources only list Van Riper. A news item in Hollywood Reporter on February 8, 1937 noted that Lucien Hubbard was going to get producer credit and would supervise the editing of this film even though he had just moved to a new position at Paramount. According to another Hollywood Reporter news item, Mary McDonald was the teacher on the set for Mickey Rooney and other youths in the cast.
This was the first film based on Aurania Rouverol's characters and, although it received only average reviews and attained only moderate financial success according to news items, it led to a new series of films made by M-G-M, beginning in late 1937 with You're Only Young Once and ending in 1947 with Love Laughs at Andy Hardy. Although it was not part of the series, the 1958 M-G-M film Andy Hardy Comes Home, directed by Howard W. Koch, also featured Rooney, as well as two other cast members, Cecilia Parker and Sara Haden, who reprised their earlier roles. Contemporary sources in the 1930s called the films "The Hardy Family" series, but most later sources refer to it as the "Andy Hardy" series, due to the increasing emphasis on "Andy" and the popularity of Mickey Rooney, who was the number one box office star from 1938 through 1941, and remained in the "top ten" in 1942 and 1943.
Beginning with You're Only Young Once, Lewis Stone replaced Lionel Barrymore as "Judge James K. Hardy," Fay Holden replaced Spring Byington as "Emily Hardy" and Ann Rutherford replaced Margaret Marquis as "Andy's" girl friend, "Polly Benedict." Betty Ross Clarke replaced Sara Haden as "Aunt Milly" in two of the 1938 films in the series, Judge Hardy's Children and Love Finds Andy Hardy. The characters "Joan Hardy Martin" and "Bill Martin" were not in any of the Hardy Family films after A Family Affair; however, a number of recurring characters were featured in subsequent films, many of which were written by Van Riper and directed by Seitz. Several "friends," "neighbors" other residents of the fictitious town of "Carvel" were portrayed by the same actors in most of the pictures in the series.
The principal sets and streets of the town were used in all the films, which usually combined comedy with light drama, and as the series progressed musical numbers were occasionally featured. Topical social issues were combined with domestic situations, and solutions to various problems were usually found by the firm, but kind "Judge Hardy," whose relationship with his adolescent son "Andy" was the cornerstone of the series.
Judy Garland first joined the series as "Betsy Booth" in the fourth film, Love Finds Andy Hardy. "Betsy" was the granddaughter of the Hardys' next-door-neighbors, and had a "crush" on "Andy" which was usually returned with brotherly affection. The popularity of Garland and Rooney led to their appearance in several M-G-M musicals of the late 1930s and early 1940s. The popularity of the Hardy Family series led to a radio program in 1949 that starred Stone, Rooney, Holden and Garland from the films, along with Richard Crenna, who took over the role of "Andy's" pal "Beezy," that was played by actor George Breakston in several of the pictures. M-G-M was awarded a special Academy Award on March 4, 1943, "for it's achievement in representing the American Way of Life in the production of the 'Andy Hardy' series of films." According to many modern sources, the series was the most popular of its era. For additional information on the series, consult the Series Index.