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


William Lundigan, Mantan Moreland, Mickey Rooney
ANDY HARDY'S DOUBLE LIFE (1942). Director: George B. Seitz.

"You're really the stuff, dad!"

Andy Hardy (Mickey Rooney) is leaving for Wainwright college in just a few days, and he finds himself with two dilemmas. First, his father, Judge Hardy (Lewis Stone), wants to accompany Andy to Wainwright, his old alma mater, where he will introduce him around, and stay for two weeks, a prospect which leaves Andy feeling like a little kid going to kindergarten. Then Andy finds himself supposedly engaged to two women, Polly Benedict (Ann Rutherford), and her friend, Sheila (Esther Williams), a psych major. As for the judge, he's dealing with a little boy (Bobby Blake) hit by a truck, while an ever-touchy Marian (Cecilia Parker) has high hopes for her blossoming romance with Jeff Willis (William Lundigan) from The Courtship of Andy Hardy. Both Rooney and Parker were getting older -- Rooney was 22 playing 18 and Parker was 28, starting to look a bit chubby and matronly  --  but the series still had a lot of life in it judging by this superior installment. Lewis Stone and Fay Holden as his wife really have a chance to shine with their expert performances -- Stone is particularly affecting -- and more cannot possibly be said about the simply wonderful Rooney. Parker, Sara Haden as Aunt Millie, and Lundigan are also fine, and there's a funny bit with that excellent comic character Mantan Moreland as Prentiss, the butler for the Benedict family. Addison Richards [The Royal Mounted Rides Again] also makes his mark as Polly's father, as does Robert Pittard as Andy's friend (?), Botsy. There are also brief appearances by Arthur Space as a lawyer, and Junior Coghlan as another of Andy's so-called buddies. Esther Williams [Raw Wind in Eden] was "introduced" in this movie -- it really was her first picture -- and she's quite good in fact, playing the role in just the right note. Andy Hardy's Double Life has an excellent, often touching script with equal parts humor and drama, and despite some silly moments, all of it works.

Verdict: One of the very best of the Hardy pictures. ***1/2.


angelman66 said...

Agreed, I have always liked this one very much. Rooney, Stone, Holden, parker and the "regulars" are such a beautiful and believable ensemble. They make me believe the idyllic small ttown of Carvel really existed, even though it was all filmed on the MGM backlot. Remember how it fell into disrepair in the 1970s, when we got a glimpse in That's Entertainment?

Loving this nostalgic trip down memory lane!

William said...

Thanks. I assume MGM felt they had little call for period films (although they weren't period films at the time) and just let the buildings and fronts all rot. It's funny how I like these films a lot more than I first saw them on TV as a kid. Sometimes you just have to get older to appreciate the older movies.