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

Thursday, May 14, 2015


ANDY HARDY'S PRIVATE SECRETARY (1941). Director: George B. Seitz.

"I don't care to discuss anything on such a low level of conversation." -- Andy Hardy to Polly Benedict.

Andy Hardy (Mickey Rooney) is excited about graduating high school and has put together a ceremony based on Greek tragedy; he will play Apollo in a curly blond wig and beard. Apparently having learned nothing from his experiences with snobs in Manhattan in Andy Hardy Meets Debutante, Andy has a high-handed attitude toward two students -- Kathryn  (Kathryn Grayson) and her handsome brother Harry (Todd Karns) -- who are poor because their father (Ian Hunter) is out of work; the judge (Lewis Stone) soon sets Andy straight. [Judge Hardy also rebukes Andy when he says of Kathryn, "does she have to sing grand opera instead of music?"] Wanting to get the two young people involved in the ceremonies, Andy asks Kathryn to be his private secretary, which results in Polly Benedict (Ann Rutherford) becoming hysterically jealous, as usual. A worse problem arises when it is revealed that old maid Aunt Millie (Sara Haden) is an English teacher and she has had to give Andy a failing grade -- now he won't graduate! Always superb, Mickey Rooney even outdoes himself in this outing, etching a skillful and amusing portrait of a basically decent young man who can be terribly gauche and insensitive -- and dumb -- at times [wanting to cover up a sign put on the stage to advertise the business that loaned the school the sets, Andy asks a fat girl to stand in front of it]. Andy Hardy's Private Secretary is an amusing romp with lots of interesting developments, and Grayson [Rio Rita] sings an aria from Lucia Di Lammermoor as well as a jazzy-type number. Well-acted by all. Todd Karns was the son of Roscoe Karns and later co-starred with his father on a detective program; perhaps his most famous role was in It's a Wonderful Life. Tall, good-looking, and charismatic, it's surprising Karns didn't have an ever bigger career.

Verdict: Another cute Hardy picture. ***.

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