30 September 2009 | Michael_Elliott
An All Around Good Film
Life Begins for Andy Hardy (1941)
*** (out of 4)
Eleventh film in the series is a pure delight as Andy (Mickey Rooney) decides to put off going to college even though Judge (Lewis Stone) feels that would be his best bet. Instead Andy travels to New York City to get a job and see what all life has to offer. He meets up with his old friend (Judy Garland) but quickly falls for a woman (Patricia Dane) who might not have his best interest in mind. I've read some critics who said this series handled dark subjects too lightly and perhaps that's true but that doesn't apply here. This film really shocked me at how mature it was and it even hit some rather dark subjects including suicide and what really makes a man. The movie has plenty of great laughs, some wonderful performances and an all around charm that makes this irresistible to fans of classic cinema. I'm still rather new to the series but the chemistry between Rooney and Stone is just marvelous and the two really come off as a real father and son. I'm not sure if it was just luck or if the two actors really did their homework but they are perfect together and really seem to know how to work off one another. This is certainly true during a brief scene at a table after Judge has come to visit Andy at work. The supporting cast is equally good and that includes Garland in her third and final appearance in the series. I've read she had four songs cut from the film but she doesn't have too much to work with except playing shoulder to Andy. Dane is the one who really surprised me because I thought she made for an excellent femme fatale years before that term would really take off. I think even those who aren't fans of the series would get a kick out of this one because it really does bring those "coming of age" issues up front and looks at them in a pretty serious manor. Even though there are laughs scattered throughout, for the most part the film is looked at in a serious way and this is a major plus.