Holiday Classics: “Love Finds Andy Hardy” (1938)

Love Finds Andy Hardy” is the fourth of sixteen “Andy Hardy” movies, and the best, in no small part due to the addition of Judy Garland to the cast. This film marked the second time the soon-to-be-popular duo of Mickey Rooney and Garland appeared on screen together, and their chemistry is nothing short of perfect.

This movie is set over Christmas. Andy Hardy (Rooney) wants to take his girlfriend Polly (Ann Rutherford) to the country club Christmas dance, but she is going to be out of town at her grandmother’s, leaving him without a date. That is, until Andy’s friend Beezy asks him to date his girlfriend Cynthia (Lana Turner, in one of her very first film roles) while he’s out of town so she remains off limits to the other guys. Cynthia proves to be a problem, however, when she becomes overly infatuated with Andy. Meanwhile, Andy becomes close friends with his next door neighbor Betsy (Garland), who is in love with him but whom he doesn’t notice because she’s younger than him.

Mickey Rooney with Ann Rutherford, Judy Garland, and Lana Turner in a publicity still for “Love Finds Andy Hardy”

The rest of the Hardy family regulars, including Andy’s wise father Judge Hardy (Lewis Stone), are back in this movie, but it’s Garland who steals the show. Her character is extremely crucial to the plot, becoming a confidant for Andy as he works out his problems, and putting his needs over hers. Garland, who was beginning the ascent to stardom at this point in her career, also gets to sing two songs in the movie that show off her marvelous voice. Rooney, meanwhile, is just as energetic and funny as ever as Andy; he was already a big star, and would start to receive top billing in all his films around this time.

Judy Garland would return as Betsy Booth in two more Andy Hardy films, while she and Rooney would later pair up in a series of fun teen musicals, starting with “Babes in Arms”. But “Love Finds Andy Hardy” remains one of their best films together.

“Love Finds Andy Hardy” is available to rent or buy on all digital platforms, and will be airing on Turner Classic Movies on the following dates this holiday season:

Sunday, December 6th at 12 PM EST

Thursday, December 24th at 10 AM EST

Runtime: 91 minutes.

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