Thursday, March 4, 2010

Thursday Romance - Love Laughs at Andy Hardy (1946) - starring Mickey Rooney

You know, kiddies, there are those who think that irony is a recent development in films, who think that the films of the 40's were way too straightforward and earnest, and that there is no hint of self-awareness or realism, especially in the romances of the period. Today's movie, however, definitely proves that not to be the case. The irony is dripping from the film right from the moment the title flashed on the screen. Because though love may be laughing at Andy Hardy, hardly anyone in the audience will be.

Except for an aborted attempt to revive the character in 1958's Andy Hardy Comes Home, this was the last of Rooney's 16 films as Hardy, and it is easy to see why. The film actually has a number of potentially good comic set-ups, but each time pulls back as if afraid to really follow through with them. The result is a movie that is genteel and at times amusing, but never really takes off and provides the viewer with any genuine laughs.

The basic plot revolves around young Andrew Hardy, the son of the town judge, who has just returned home from fighting in World War Two. Battle-hardened, both his mind and body scarred by the things he experienced overseas, his plan is to return to college and take back up with the girlfriend he left behind.
However when his girlfriend is shot down on the streets in front of him by Nazi conspirators and his rival for her affections makes the joke that if Hardy had been taller the bullet would not have whizzed over his head and into his girl's once-lovely face, Hardy snaps, gets the machine gun he brought back with him from the war and goes on a rampage of carnage throughout the college campus. Now hunted as a fugitive, he makes his way back to the small town where he was raised, seeking shelter in the care of his father the judge. Instead, the stern man rejects him, threatening to turn him over to the police because he must pay for what he has done. In a fiery cataclysm, Hardy blows up himself and the courthouse, though his father narrowly escpaes. Looking at the destruction his son has wrought, the judge is forced to reconsider not only his own attitudes, but the effects that war can have on a young man, and he is left shaking his head as debris rains around him.

Or maybe not.

Actually, Hardy seems as affected by his time at war as if he had instead been on a weekend vacation in the Hamptons. Other than the fact that time has passed and he spends part of the film dressed in his khakis, there really is no indication of what he might have been doing. The actual plot of the film involves Andy's desire to get his college sweetheart to agree to marry him. I'd love to say that much mayhem ensues, but unfortunately...

Ok, here's a preview - this is the "jitterbugging" scene the above still is taken from. The disapproving older couple, by the way, are Andy's parents who have come to the dance thinking they are going to meet the girl that Andy is planning to ask to marry him. (She unfortunately had to miss the dance because of a family emergency.) Unfortunately, again, what could have been an extended bit of humorous misunderstanding is cut short when the judge quickly realizes what is going on and lets Andy off the hook.

Ok, here's the skinny:
Title: Love Laughs at Andy Hardy
Release Date: 1946
Running Time: 93 min
Black and White
Starring: Micky Rooney
Directed by: Willis Goldbeck
Produced by: Robert Sisk
Released by: MGM

Love Laughs at Andy Hardy is available to watch or download for free here.
It's available on DVD from Amazon: Love Laughs At Andy Hardy .
And Netflix has it available for rental: Love Laughs at Andy Hardy

Until next time, Happy Treasure Hunting,
-Professor Damian


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