Lively, entertaining reviews of, and essays on, old and newer films and everything relating to them, written by professional author William Schoell.

Thursday, June 4, 2015

ANDY HARDY COMES HOME

Mickey Rooney and Fay Holden
ANDY HARDY COMES HOME (1958). Director: Howard W. Koch.

"Wouldn't it be nice some time to take a trip around the world?' -- Aunt Millie

"Oh, I don't know. I'd rather go somewhere else." -- Mrs. Hardy

Twelve years have gone by since the last Hardy film and Andy is now happily married to Jane (Patricia Breslin of Homicidal) and living in Los Angeles with their two children. Andy now works for the legal department of the Gordon Aircraft company and thinks it might be a good idea to open a plant in his home town of Carvel. Unfortunately, a couple of people with grudges against Andy conspire to turn the whole town against him, insisting the factory will lead to slums, criminals, and who knows what else. Old pal "Beezy" (now played by Joey Forman) shows up and tries to help Andy but is stymied by his fearful wife, Sally (Jeanne Baird). Will Andy have to turn his back on Carvel the way they've seemed to turn their backs on him? Andy Hardy Comes Home is an amiable, if minor, picture that in its day served chiefly as a way for the audience to catch up with the Hardy family after many years. Lewis Stone had passed on, but Fay Holden (in her warm if slightly ditsy turn as Mother Hardy), Sara Haden as Millie, and Cecelia Parker (returning as Marian) are all good, as is Rooney. The film introduced Pat Cawley, who plays Sally, the woman who helps Andy in his search for property, although it is highly unlikely that her handsome boyfriend (William Leslie of Mutiny in Outer Space) would actually be jealous of Andy. Also introduced in this picture were little Teddy Rooney, who is okay as Andy Hardy Jr., and Johnny Weissmuller Jr. , who plays Andy's very tall nephew, Jim. Jerry Colonna shows up as Doc, who runs the soda shoppe. There are flashback scenes with Judy Garland, Lana Turner, and Esther Williams in clips from the older Hardy films. At the end of Andy Hardy Comes Home it says TO BE CONTINUED in big letters, but it was not to be. Andy was too old, and his son too young, to capture the teen-aged girl-crazy humor of the earlier installments, and the script for the film was no world-beater, making a mild attempt at recreating the humor and sentiment of the original series. The very pretty and competent Cawley only did two other movies.

Verdict: A middle-aged and mostly mediocre Andy Hardy. **1/2.

3 comments:

angelman66 said...

I always wanted to like this one more...it's kind of sad in a lot of ways. Mickey Rooney was no longer that character...there is a hardened quality to him that I don't think Andy would have developed. I believe this was not a good time in Rooney's life, and this picture failed to reignite his career after a long slump. he was no longer leading man material.
BUT - luckily Mr. Rooney reinvented himself as a character actor and fared better in the 1960s and 1970s, starting with his funny (if politically incorrect) performance as Yunioshi in Breakfast at Tiffany's ...later on he's wonderful in family fare like The Black Stallion and of course, as the voice of Santa Claus in those beloved Rankin-Bass Christmas shows...

Thanks for the memories, Bill. I ADORE Mr. Mickey Rooney, and your recent posts are a beautiful tribute to a great talent!

-Chris

William said...

Thank you so much, Chris. I've always admired and enjoyed Mickey Rooney -- saw him on Broadway in "Sugar Babies" where he was obviously having a ball -- and thought an AFI tribute was warranted, but it was not to be. Rooney summed up practically the entire history of the movies from the silent period and onward, reinventing himself, as you say, and becoming a much-respected character player in movies like "Bill." His last days did not sound like happy ones for him, but I hope he got some consolation in how many appreciative fans he had.

angelman66 said...

YES! I forgot about Broadway! I saw Sugar Babies, too - he and Ann Miller were electric!