Cast & Crew
George B. Seitz
Carvel Judge James K. Hardy and his family, including his wife Emily, sister-in-law Milly, daughter Marian and son Andrew, are looking forward to having a wonderful summer vacation together. Although each family member seems to favor a different vacation spot, the judge is looking forward to fishing for swordfish off Santa Catalina Island, and he eventually convinces the rest of the family to go there. Just prior to leaving, Judge Hardy co-signs a note for some land for Frank Redman, editor of the Carvel paper. At Catalina, while the judge readies his new fishing equipment, the children pursue their own interests. Marian is fascinated with a wealthy lifeguard named Bill Rand who is separated from his wife and very "wild." Andy starts to spend time with teenager Geraldine "Jerry" Lane, whose mother has been divorced four times and who seems to have little regard for family life. While Marian tries to decide whom she prefers, Bill or Wayne Trent, her hometown boyfriend, Andy realizes that he needs money to keep up with Jerry and other rich friends. Not wanting Andy to be influenced by wild companions, Judge Hardy goes to see Jerry, who thinks that he is trying to pick her up. That night, the judge tells Andy not to see Jerry any more because she is too fast for him, but Andy angrily leaves their cabin after accusing his father of being too old fashioned. He thinks about what his father has said, though, then tells Jerry that he does not want to see her anymore, after which he makes up with the judge. Meanwhile, Marian has been seeing a lot of Bill, who asks her to marry him "after my divorce." When Marian comes home drunk that night and tells her father about Bill, the judge warns her about society's view of divorce, but invites Bill to go on a beach trip with them the next day. During the trip, in a game, Bill is put "on trial" and admits that he only considered Marian as a "vacation romance" and is not really separated from his wife. He then decides that it would be best to leave, and Marian is crushed. A short time later, the judge catches the swordfish he has wanted, but has little time to enjoy his trophy because he soon receives a telegram informing him that Redman cannot meet the payments for the note. Shaken because he now has to come up with money to cover the loan, Judge Hardy immediately takes the family home and learns that Redman has swindled him. Just when it appears that they will lose everything, including their house, the Judge remembers that his grandfather was a Civil War veteran who received government script for his service. The judge then flies to the capitol and, upon returning to Carvel reveals that by terms of the government script, it could be used to buy land, thus he has bought the land himself. With their financial problems settled, the Hardys return to their daily lives.
George B. Seitz
Norman Phillips Jr.
You're Only Young Once
It all started with Eugene O'Neill. Not that he had anything to do with the film's script, but his sole comedy, Ah, Wilderness!, had provided MGM with a popular hit in 1935. Looking for a similar combination of all-American values and family comedy, studio executives seized on Aurania Rouverol's play Skidding, a courtroom drama in which tough Judge Hardy tries to help his daughter's boyfriend deal with a gambling problem. Then they cast the leading players from Ah, Wilderness!
-- Lionel Barrymore, Spring Byington, Eric Linden, Cecilia Parker and Mickey Rooney -- in similar roles. But where Rooney had played a colorful supporting role in the earlier film, studio head Louis B. Mayer now wanted to push him into leading roles, so he ordered a subplot about the judge's family expanded to showcase the younger actor. They even changed the title to A Family Affair (1937). The result was a hit that had exhibitors calling for more films about the Hardy family.
Since sequels were not looked on as a good investment at the time, Mayer decided to follow up A Family Affair with a series of lower budget pictures and You're Only Young Once would launch the series. That meant replacing Barrymore and Byington, who were too expensive for the sequel's modest budget. In their place, they cast Lewis Stone, a star of silent films who had established himself as a solid character actor since the coming of sound, and Fay Holden, a stage actress who had recently attracted attention with mother roles at other studios. With Rooney's role expanding, Linden's character - the boyfriend of Hardy daughter Marian - was eliminated (though his picture would adorn the family piano in this film). They also brought in Ann Rutherford to take over the role of Andy Hardy's girlfriend, Polly Benedict. Only Rooney, Parker and Sara Haden, as Aunt Milly, remained from the original cast.
The script developed by writer Kay Van Riper was originally titled A Family Vacation and Second Family Affair before the studio settled on You're Only Young Once. All of the series' ingredients hadn't gelled yet. Sister Marian carried a large portion of the story as she fell in love with a lifeguard who turned out to be married, a situation exposed by her older and wiser parents. But such beloved series elements as Andy Hardy's foolishness and the Judge's wise counsel and ability to get his children out of sticky situations were already established. So was the tendency to showcase the younger actresses cast opposite Rooney. This time out, his love interest was Eleanor Lynn as a spoiled rich girl who tries to lead Andy into the fast life. Unlike such later leading ladies Judy Garland, Lana Turner and Esther Williams, however, Lynn did not move on to stardom.
Even before the film opened, MGM was committed to turning out more pictures in the series. Van Riper started on the next film, Judge Hardy's Children (1938), as soon as location shooting started on Catalina Island, and You're Only Young Once ended with a spoken epilogue in which Stone promised audiences more Hardy films in the future. The studio's faith was well founded. The first true Hardy film grossed well over $2 million and most of it was pure profit. For the next two years, MGM would turn out a new Hardy film roughly every three months. The production team -- including producer J.J. Cohn, director George B. Seitz and Van Riper -- would remain mostly intact through the remaining 13 films in the series, most of them more popular than the big-budget pictures they had been designed to support. Mayer loved the films and Stone's portrayal of the perfect American father so much that he guaranteed the actor a position at the studio for the rest of his life. In 1941, MGM even landed a special Oscar® in recognition of the series' "achievement in representing the American way of life." It was the only film series of Hollywood's golden age to be honored like that.
Producer: J.J. Cohn
Director: George B. Seitz
Screenplay: Kay Van Riper, based on characters created by Aurania Rouverol
Cinematography: Lester White
Art Direction: Cedric Gibbons
Music: David Snell
Cast: Lewis Stone (Judge Hardy), Mickey Rooney (Andy Hardy), Cecilia Parker (Marian Hardy), Fay Holden (Mrs. Harvey), Frank Craven (Frank Redmond), Ann Rutherford (Polly Benedict), Eleanor Lynn (Jerry Lane), Sara Haden (Aunt Milly).
BW-78m. Closed captioning.
by Frank Miller
You're Only Young Once
The working title of the film was A Family Vacation. The Motion Picture Herald "In the Cutting Room" column also referred to it as Second Family Affair. After the story's end, actor Lewis Stone comes out from behind a closed curtain and announces that the Hardy Family is going to appear in a news series, which he hopes the audience will like. He then tells the audience to "Watch for the new adventures of Judge Hardy's Children." Stone took over the role of "Judge James K. Hardy" from Lionel Barrymore, who had been in the first film featuring the Hardy Family characters, A Family Affair. Although a Hollywood Reporter news item stated that Barrymore might resume the role of "Judge Hardy" in subsequent pictures, Stone played the role throughout the rest of the series. According to news item in Hollywood Reporter, Sara Holden was loaned to M-G-M from Paramount for her role as "Aunt Milly." Fay Holden portrayed "Mrs. Emily Hardy" for the first time in this film. The role had been played by Spring Byington in A Family Affair. Holden continued in the role throughout the series. This film also marked the first appearance of Ann Rutherford in the role of "Polly Benedict," "Andy's" girl friend. Character "Marian Hardy's" boyfriend is discussed in the film, but never seen. The Variety review notes that a photograph of actor Eric Linden, who played the role of boyfriend "Wayne Trent" in A Family Affair, was seen on a piano in the Hardy family home, indicating that he would be back in the series. Linden did not appear in the series again, although the character of Wayne appeared in the next picture in the series, Judge Hardy's Children. At that time the character, whose last name was changed to "Trenton," was played by Robert Whitney. For additional information on the series, see the above entry for A Family Affair and consult the Series Index.