This public service short, made to raise funds for Los Angeles charities, uses the two main characters from the enormously popular Andy Hardy film series. Here, as so often happened in the feature films, Andy (Mickey Rooney) gets a lesson from his father the judge (Lewis Stone) about doing the right thing.
In this particular case, Andy wants $200 to buy a car, but his father takes him on a tour of places that need the money more. While Andy and his dad stay in character throughout this little film, it dispenses with some fictional conventions. Judge Hardy notes that all the charities are in Los Angeles, "where Andy and I live," not the fictional small town of Carvel, where the movies are set. And an unseen narrator refers to Mickey Rooney, not Andy Hardy.
"Dilemma" offers an interesting look at how things have and have not changed in the United States. The narrator's portentous-sounding revelation about the many "Mexican, Gypsy or Chinese" youngsters in L.A. seems dated now, but it comes with a message of tolerance that was somewhat controversial in 1940 America. The scenes of disabled children in painful-looking medical contraptions are as moving today as they must have been then. And the visit to a home for unwed mothers, with its understated narration, is still powerful.
The kids we see here are part of the older generation now, if they are still alive. I hope this film did its part to make their lives better. Its message is timeless.
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