For the past few weeks, I’ve been sharing my enjoyment for different comic teams, and the fact that no matter what the latest plot had them doing, the boys (Laurel, Abbot, Groucho, etc.) were always the same, never deviating from their basic persona. And that’s all gravy, for each team had their own charm and delight.
What I want to share for a few weeks are the series films that were so popular in the 30’s and 40’s. While radio was the home entertainment of its day, and had its weekly shows, America also grew to love certain characters and wanted to see them again and again. Hollywood, ever quick to make a buck and to meet audience demand made movies with actors reprising their roles time after time.
The most famous of the series movies would probably be the Andy Hardy movies, which made Mickey Rooney a huge star, and helped to launch the career of Judy Garland. Set in a fictional midwest town in which the inhabitants embodies all the virtues of mid-America, the fifteen-film series told of the everyday events in the lives of Judge Hardy and his impetuous son, Andy.
Wikipeida says that Carvel, Andy Hardy’s hometown, was Louis B. Mayer’s idealized vision of what America truly was. The people of Carvel were “pious, patriotic, generous and tolerant”, and Judge Stone was particularly wise, giving his son sound guidance when needed. I guess that, for me, I wish that our country was actually as good and decent as Mayer envisioned. Here is the trailer for Life Begins for Andy Hardy, giving you a look back at Hollywood’s idea of middle America. Please note that, at the beginning of the clip, the narrator references the previous movie in the series, Andy Hardy’s Private Secretary.