An Old-Fashioned Christmas Movie On The Farm (2020) with… Love Finds Andy Hardy (1938)

Well, we’ve got one last Christmas film to get through before the holiday itself, so let’s get to it! It’s the classic 1938 film Love Finds Andy Hardy, starring Lewis Stone, Mickey Rooney, Judy Garland, Cecilia Parker and Fay Holden!

Coming Up Shorts! with… Shocking Pink (1965)

(available on Blu-ray and DVD as part of The Pink Panther Cartoon Collection: Volume 1 (1964-1966) from Kino Lorber)

(Length: 6 minutes, 43 seconds)

The Pink Panther tries to relax, but the narrator keeps pushing him to work on some things around the house. Of course, as you can guess, things don’t go the Panther’s way as he tries to work on things. Particularly memorable are the two recurring gags about the basement light flicking on and off while he tries to go down there, and an out-of-control power saw that keeps cutting his tail off. With Larry Storch as the narrator, this one is a lot of fun, and one I don’t mind coming back to for a few good laughs every now and then!

And Now For The Main Feature…

Andrew “Andy” Hardy (Mickey Rooney) has got big plans for the Christmas Eve dance. He’s trying to buy a $20 car, but he can only pay the dealer $12, and has to promise to pay the remaining $8 of the price before he can get the car. However, his girlfriend, Polly Benedict (Ann Rutherford), tells him she will be out of town visiting relatives for the holidays, which leaves him without a date to the dance. Both of his problems are seemingly fixed when his friend “Beezy” Anderson (George Breakston) has to go out of town with his family as well, and offers to pay him to go out with his girlfriend Cynthia Potter (Lana Turner) in order to keep the other guys away from her. At the Hardy home, Andy’s mother, Emily Hardy (Fay Holden), gets a telegram saying that her mother is badly ill, and she and her sister Milly (Betty Ross Clark) decide to leave for their mother’s home, leaving Andy’s sister Marian (Cecilia Parker) in charge as the “woman of the house.” Meanwhile, Andy has drawn the attentions of new next door neighbor, Betsy Booth (Judy Garland), who is in town visiting her grandmother. However, in spite of her affections and partly because she is a few years younger, Andy only thinks of her as a friend. Things start to go downhill for Andy, as he receives two telegrams. One is from Polly, stating that she would be coming back for the dance, but he tries to call and let her know he can’t take her because of a “previous engagement.” The other is from Beezy, who, instead of sending some money like he had promised, tells him that he found a new girlfriend (thereby negating their deal), and that Andy can take Cynthia to the dance without any trouble. Now facing the the trouble of not being able to pay for a car and a tough choice between two dates, Andy turns to his father, Judge James K. Hardy (Lewis Stone). But, even with his father’s help, can he get out of this mess? And will his mother (and her mother) be fine?

Love Finds Andy Hardy was the fourth film in the Andy Hardy series, and the first to show the change of focus from the Hardy family as a whole to Andy Hardy himself (as played by Mickey Rooney). The film retained most of the cast of the previous entries (although with actress Betty Ross Clark for her second and final time playing Aunt Milly instead of series regular Sara Haden). With the increasing emphasis on Mickey Rooney’s Andy Hardy character and his relationships, the series was able to showcase up-and-coming actresses, and, in this film, it was Lana Turner as Cynthia Potter. The film also gave us Judy Garland in her first of three appearances in the series as Betsy Booth, which re-teamed her with Mickey Rooney after they first appeared together in the 1937 film Thoroughbreds Don’t Cry. With their chemistry becoming more evident, they would also soon be teamed up for their famous “let’s put on a show” series of films, starting with Babes In Arms the next year.

While I have seen the entire Andy Hardy film series, I will readily admit that Love Finds Andy Hardy is the one I have seen the most. And it’s fairly easy to guess one of the main reasons: its Christmas connection! Obviously, with the buildup to the big Christmas Eve dance and the Christmas tree we see put up in the Hardy home on Christmas Eve, it certainly works well enough (and, on the DVD, there’s also a short promo featuring the Hardy family on Christmas morning that ends with them addressing us, the audience). Of course, the rest of the movie is fun, too, even if it is fairly predictable that Andy will somehow get out of all his trouble. Still, Mickey Rooney does a great job as the character, and the addition of Judy Garland as Betsy Booth, especially with the three songs she gets to sing, makes it all worth seeing every now and then! So, yes, I recommend this one!

This movie is available on DVD from Warner Archive Collection as part of the 10-film Andy Hardy Film Collection Volume 2.

And, since is my last post before the holiday, I want to wish you all a merry Christmas (and to those who don’t celebrate it, I wish you happy holidays), and I wish you peace on earth, and goodwill to ALL!

And if you are interested in joining in on my month-long “Star Of The Month” blogathons for 2021, whether for next month (Doris Day), February (Clark Gable) or beyond, please be sure to check out my Coming Soon In 2021: “Star/Genre Of The Month” Blogathons post to sign up!

Film Length: 1 hour, 31 minutes

My Rating: 9/10

List Of Actor/Actress Filmographies/Collections

Mickey Rooney – Strike Up The Band (1940)

Judy Garland – Strike Up The Band (1940)

Ann Rutherford – A Christmas Carol (1938)

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What’s Old Is A New Release Again (2020) with… Girl Crazy (1943)

We’re back again for another one of the Mickey Rooney and Judy Garland musicals, their 1943 film Girl Crazy!

Coming Up Shorts! with… Hollywood Daredevils (1943)

(Available as an extra on the Girl Crazy Blu-ray from Warner Archive Collection)

(Length: 9 minutes, 21 seconds)

A short looking at Hollywood stuntman Harry Woolman.  Being a Pete Smith Specialty short, we obviously have Pete Smith narrating it with his usual humor.  We see various stunts performed on the beach, with one recurring one that takes a few times for it to come off.  Not a great short, but not absolutely terrible, either.

Coming Up Shorts! with… The Early Bird Dood It! (1942)

(Available as an extra on the Girl Crazy Blu-ray from Warner Archive Collection)

(Length: 8 minutes, 51 seconds)

The Worm asks for help from a cat to deal with the Early Bird.  One of Tex Avery’s first shorts for MGM.  Some of his trademark humor here, and a sly wink at the audience as we see a reference to the cartoon itself on a billboard.  Not restored yet, but the humor still shines through enough to have a few good laughs!

And Now For The Main Feature…

Danny Churchill, Jr. (Mickey Rooney) is getting into a lot of trouble going out to nightclubs and shows with a lot of girls.  As the son of a big publisher, that brings a lot of notoriety, much to the consternation of his father (Henry O’Neill).  So, he decides to send his son out west to Cody College, where there are no girls.  After getting off the train, Danny finds that he has to walk eight miles through the desert to get to the college.  On the way, he runs across the postmistress, Ginger Gray (Judy Garland), trying to repair her vehicle.  He tries to help (and flirt a little, too), but she rejects him and, once the car gets started, drives off without him.  Once he gets to the college, he meets his roommate, Bud Livermore (Gil Stratton), before he gets settles in for the night.  The morning comes too quickly for him, as everyone gets up at six, in preparation for a day-long ride out into the hills to camp out overnight.  Not too long into the trip, Danny loses his wilder-than-he-would-have-preferred horse, and catches a ride out with “Rags” (as played by “Rags” Ragland).  When he gets back to Cody the next day, Danny talks to Dean Phineas Armour (Guy Kibbee) (who is also Ginger’s grandfather) about withdrawing from the college.  Ginger drives him back to the train station, but tells him off for being a quitter before she drops him off.  That night, everybody at Cody celebrates her birthday, with her boyfriend Henry Lathrop (Robert E. Strickland) taking her off alone to propose to her in a rather un-romantic fashion (and, in case you need to know, she says “no”).  Danny, meanwhile, had returned, and overheard the whole conversation. After Henry leaves, Danny reveals his presence and expresses his desire to stay.  Trouble arrives shortly, though, when the legislature threatens to close the college for lack of students being enrolled.  This really gets to Ginger, and Danny, in spite of the fact that he doesn’t care for the school, comes up with an idea to save it. He makes plans to have a big rodeo and beauty contest to help draw in more people.  After running the idea by the dean and convincing the  governor to delay signing the bill to close the college by thirty days, Danny goes to a party for the governor’s daughter, Marjorie Tait (Frances Rafferty), where he starts trying to persuade her and a few other girls to join the contest in hopes of being the “queen of the rodeo.”  The problem is that Ginger is in that contest, and Danny wants Marjorie to win if only because of her position.  Can Danny stay in Ginger’s good graces and save the school?

The 1943 film Girl Crazy was based on a 1930 Broadway show, which originally starred Ginger Rogers as Molly Gray (and the name change for Judy Garland’s character in the film was a tribute to her).  In 1932, the RKO studio made a film featuring their comedy team of (Bert) Wheeler and (Robert) Woolsey, although it focused more on the comedy and not so much on the music.  MGM bought the rights to the show, intending it as a movie to reunite Fred Astaire and Eleanor Powell after their success in Broadway Melody Of 1940.  Obviously, that changed, with Mickey Rooney and Judy Garland being teamed up again.  At first, the film was to be directed by Busby Berkeley, who filmed the “I Got Rhythm” number.  However, he was fired after that was filmed, a combination of the costs being too high, as well as issues between him and Judy Garland.  The rest of the film was handled, with far less controversy, by director Norman Taurog.

I’ve only had the chance to see this movie a handful of times, but I will readily admit that I enjoy it!  Obviously, with music provided by George and Ira Gershwin, combined with Tommy Dorsey and his orchestra playing it, that’s hard to beat!  It’s fun to listen to the orchestra playing “Fascinating Rhythm” with Mickey Rooney sitting in on the piano, and Judy gives us a wonderful rendition of “But Not For Me.”  But the film’s two best moments would have to be Judy singing (and dancing) to “Embraceable You” and the whole cast doing “I Got Rhythm.”  Of course, between these two, we do see how Judy Garland herself could do, depending on who she was working with.  Considering how she apparently didn’t get along with Busby Berkeley (and was possibly overworked by him), it seems telling that, for the “I Got Rhythm” number, her dancing doesn’t look that great compared to those around her, and yet, for the earlier song (well, earlier in the movie although it was filmed later) “Embraceable You,” which was choreographed by her dance partner Charles Walter, she looks like a great dancer.  Both fun routines, though, in spite of that, and I could easily watch either of them (and get the songs stuck in my head, too)!  While, as I said, I’ve only had the chance to see the movie a few times, I can’t deny that it is a fun one, and I have no trouble whatsoever recommending it!

This movie is available on Blu-ray from Warner Archive Collection utilizing a 4K scan of the best surviving preservation elements, which in this case was a second generation safety fine grain.  The movie itself hasn’t really looked that good for a long time (to be fair, I don’t really remember how it looked exactly when I saw it once a decade ago, but from the footage I have seen used in the That’s Entertainment film series, it definitely needed work), but Warner Archive has done it again!  Now, the film looks as good as one could hope for, especially with all the dirt and debris cleaned up! I’d certainly say that this release is the best way to enjoy this wonderful movie!

Film Length: 1 hour, 39 minutes

My Rating: 10/10

*ranked #4 in Top 10 Disc Releases Of 2020

**ranked #9 in Top 10 Movies Watched In 2020

List Of Actor/Actress Filmographies/Collections

Strike Up The Band (1940) – Mickey Rooney

For Me And My Gal (1942) – Judy Garland – Meet Me In St. Louis (1944)

June Allyson – Good News (1947)

What’s Old Is A New Release Again (2020) with… Strike Up The Band (1940)

To keep the celebration of July as Clean Movie Month 2020 (as hosted by Pure Entertainment Preservation Society) going, we have that classic 1940 Mickey Rooney and Judy Garland musical Strike Up The Band! Of course, before we get into that, I want to deviate a little and post my next poll:

As I stated a few weeks back when I reviewed Romance On The High Seas, I generally tend to be a bit further ahead in my movie viewing than the timing of my reviews would indicate. Having now had a poll to choose the Doris Day movies that I will review for January 2021, I am now doing the reverse and posting a poll to choose the “Star Of The Month” for February 2021 (and I will pick the movies). After this poll ends within the next two weeks, I will post another poll to choose the “Star Of The Month” for March 2021 (fair warning, though, that poll will have a completely different group of actors/actresses to choose from, so if you want one of the eight listed for February, get your vote in now). Now, back to the regularly scheduled program…

Jimmy Connors (Mickey Rooney) and his friends are bored with the band at Riverwood High School. So Jimmy gets the idea to form a modern dance orchestra (well, “modern” for that time, anyway). He takes the idea to the principal, Mr. Judd (Francis Pierlot), who signs off on letting him start the orchestra and do the school dance. With his friend Mary Holden (Judy Garland) helping out as a vocalist, the band proves to be a hit at the dance, and so Jimmy decides to try to enter the orchestra in a contest being held by famous bandleader Paul Whiteman. However, the contest will take place in Chicago, and they don’t have enough money to get the whole band there, so they put on a show for the Elks Club to make enough money. The show is fairly successful, but they fall short. Also causing trouble is the new student at Riverwood, Barbara Frances Morgan (June Preisser), who has set her sights on Jimmy, much to the consternation of Mary, who also likes Jimmy. Barbara’s attentions do bring some luck, though, as her parents hire Paul Whiteman (of course, played by himself) and his orchestra for her birthday party, and Jimmy and the members of his orchestra are invited as guests! At the party, while Paul Whiteman and his orchestra take a break, Jimmy and his friends admire the instruments, and decide to start playing. Listening in, Paul Whiteman is impressed, and offers Jimmy a job as a drummer. At first excited by the opportunity, Jimmy realizes he would be hurting his friends, who need him for the contest, and so he declines. Impressed, Paul Whiteman gives him the remaining money to finance the trip. The excitement soon ends, as one of Jimmy’s friends is sick from an injury and needs an operation to survive. Valuing his friend more than the trip, Jimmy gives the money to help his friend. All is not lost, though, as Barbara’s father is impressed and offers to use his railroad to get the band there in time for the contest!

After the success of Babes In Arms, MGM did what any self-respecting studio would do: give their audience more, and as soon as possible! So Louis B. Mayer, the head of MGM, picked out Strike Up The Band to bring back together Mickey Rooney, Judy Garland and director Busby Berkeley. Technically, Strike Up The Band was the title of a Broadway show from 1930 with music by the Gershwins, but outside of the title and the song, the movie bore very little resemblance to the Broadway show. Still, the movie proved to be another hit, resulting in Babes On Broadway and Girl Crazy keeping the gang together.

Strike Up The Band was the second of the four films Mickey Rooney and Judy Garland made together that are generally described by the phrase “Let’s put on a show” (or something similar to that). As for the movie itself, I enjoyed it very much. In some respects, the movie really focuses in on Mickey Rooney’s character here, which *almost* makes it seem like an Andy Hardy movie! Obviously, we have Mickey’s character with all the youthful enthusiasm, which gives him his drive, and we also have a parental figure (in this case, it’s his mother, played by Ann Shoemaker), who advises him and helps him to grow up more. But, it’s also more of a musical than an Andy Hardy film would be, which for me is most of the fun! I know some of the songs make me want to get up and dance myself, especially with the likes of “Do The La Conga!” I’ll admit, the show they put on in the middle of the movie, while fun, doesn’t really seem to fit, and could just as easily be removed. And, of course, the Busby Berkeley numbers are here, with all their ridiculousness intact (including the finale, which is very visual for what should be a radio program)! It is a fun movie, with Mickey and Judy making things work! It’s a good clean movie, with nothing I can think of to say against it as far as it being family friendly! With the kids showing respect to the adults (and being given the same respect back), it just makes you feel better seeing it! It might not be the best of the Mickey and Judy films, but it’s certainly a treat to see, and one I have no trouble recommending!

This movie is available on Blu-ray from Warner Archive Collection. This new release touts a 4K restoration from the best available archival elements, and it looks fantastic! While I personally can’t speak to how it may have looked previously, it does look pretty darn good here! As visual as director/choreographer Busby Berkeley could be, especially in his musical numbers, the details are really brought out here, and make this release well worth it! The movie itself is two hours in length.

My Rating: 9/10

Audience Rating:

*ranked #5 in Top 10 Disc Releases Of 2020

List Of Actor/Actress Filmographies/Collections

Love Finds Andy Hardy (1938) – Mickey Rooney – Girl Crazy (1943)

Love Finds Andy Hardy (1938) – Judy Garland – Little Nellie Kelly (1940)

Coming Up Shorts! with… Wedding Bills (1940)

(available as an extra on the Strike Up The Band Blu-ray from Warner Archive Collection)

(Length: 9 minutes, 42 seconds)

A Pete Smith comedy short on a man getting married and trying to account for the bills. First short I’ve seen from the Pete Smith series, and it was definitely a bit of fun! The action in the background is silent while Pete Smith narrates, but his comments could be quite funny! It was something new and different for me, and I think it was worth seeing! Admittedly, on this set it’s not restored, but it doesn’t have to be to be this enjoyable!

Coming Up Shorts! with… Romeo In Rhythm (1940)

(available as an extra on the Strike Up The Band Blu-ray from Warner Archive Collection)

(Length: 8 minutes, 17 seconds)

As part of a show, two crows are attempting to woo each other, but keep getting interrupted by others. A little bit of fun, especially with some of the interruptions, as well as a few familiar tunes from other MGM films, such as “We’re Off To See The Wizard” and “You Were Meant For Me. Admittedly, this does seem a bit stereotyped with some of the “jive talk” and other issues. Again, not really restored here, but it was fun just the same to give it a try!