Andy Hardy Fan Site

A Family Affair

(B&W, 1937, 69 minutes)

James K. Hardy is Judge of the District Court in small town Carvel (pop. 25,000) in Idaho. When a local citizen (Mr. Nichols, editor of the local newspaper "The Weekly Vigilante"), enters a petition to investigate the actions of contractor Hoyt Wells in the building of an aqueduct in accordance with an enablement passed by the state legislature, Judge Hardy is caught in a dilemma. It is his duty to issue a stop work injunction while the court investigates the petition. But the local residents are all against his action because the work stoppage will cost them their jobs and affect the local economy.

Even the Hardy family is affected by the fallout. Daughter Joan (there were two Hardy daughters in this film) is caught in a scandal which is being used to blackmail Judge Hardy. Daughter Marian (Cecilia Parker) is in love with Wayne Trent (Eric Linden), engineer on the project who stands to lose his job. Only Andy agrees with his father because he takes the time to read the case and has faith that his father will do the right thing.

"Mayer unknowingly laid the foundation for the most profitable series in Hollywood's history when he put most of the Ah Wilderness cast into A Family Affair in another vain effort to recapture the former's magic. Based on modest Broadway success by Aurania Rouverol called "Skidding," it was a story of Judge Hardy and his small-town family, played by Lionel Barrymore, Julie Haydon, Cecilia Parker, Sara Haden, Eric Linden, Spring Byington and Mickey Rooney. It was a Lucien Hubbard - George B. Seitz "B" and drew a surprising number of requests from exhibitors for mor like it. So its sets were kept standing and its scenarist, Kay Van Riper, was assigned to write a sequel (which eliminated the Haydon and Linden characters). The Hardy family saga was on its way."1

"In 1937, Lucien Hubbard, whose unit specialized in low-budget movies, produced a routine B-picture that brought back together a cast that Hunt Stromberg had used effectively in Ah, Wilderness two years before. In A Family Affair, Lionel Barrymore played a small-town judge, named Hardy, whose uncompromising sense of justice brought him into conflict with his fellow citizens. His own family frequently opposed him, with the exception of his teenage son, Andy, who was originally intended to play a secondary role. Had Mayer not insisted on placing greater emphasis on the character of Andy, it might have been just another part given to the seventeen-year-old Mickey Rooney in his thirty-third movie.

The response to A Family Affair and to Rooney was so positive that Mayer asked Hubbard to produce another Hardy picture - this time concentrating on the relationship between the judge and his son - with the intention of making it a series. When Hubbard left the studio, Mayer placed the production in the hands of J. J. Cohn and director George B. Seitz. Lionel Barrymore, already busy with another role, was replaced by Lewis Stone, and Fay Holden became Andy's Ma. Andy, of course, could not be played by anyone but Mickey Rooney.

Mayer's growing enthusiasm for the subsequent Hardy films almost became a personal crusade for him. He would sit through previews next to Carey Wilson, the veteran producer-writer, in order to transmit his criticisms directly. After a scene in which Andy Hardy refused to eat - to indicate how lovesick he was - Mayer went into a rage: "Don't you know a boy of sixteen is hungry all the time?" he screamed. "You tell me you were brought up in a good American home - in the kitchen! You lied to me! You've let Andy insult his mother! No boy would tell his mother he wasn't hungry!" Then Mayer told Wilson exactly how to rewrite the scene."2

Directed by: George B. Seitz
Produced by: Lucien Hubbard, Samuel Marx
Screenplay by: Kay Van Riper
Based on a play by: Aurania Rouverol [play "Skidding"]
Musical Score by: David Snell
Recording Director: Douglas Shearer
Art Director: Cedric Gibbons
   Associates: John Detlie, Edwin B. Willis
Photographed by: Lester White
Film Editor: George Boemler
Released March, 1937

Lionel Barrymore ... Judge Hardy
Cecilia Parker ... Marion Hardy
Eric Linden ... Wayne Trent
Mickey Rooney ... Andy Hardy
Charley Grapewin ... Frank Redmond
Spring Byington ... Mrs. Hardy
Julie Haydon ... Joan
Sara Haden ... Aunt Milly
Allen Vincent ... Bill Martin
Margaret Marquis ... Polly
Selmer Jackson ... Hoyt Wells
Harlan Briggs ... Oscar Stubbins
Additional Cast:
Erville Alderson ... Dave
Robert Emmett Keane ... J. Carroll Nichols
Sam McDaniel ... Whitey, the chauffeur
Walter Soderling ... Adams
Don Barclay ... Drunk in car
Arthur Housman ... Drunk driver
James Donlan ... "Daily Star" reporter
Virginia Sale ... "Daily Star" Social News Editor
Sam Hayes ... Radio announcer
Guy Usher ... Convention chairman
Joe Caits ... Convention delegate
Oscar "Dutch" Hendrian ... Convention delegate
Al Hill ... Convention delegate
Cyril Ring ... Convention delegate
Harry Semels ... Convention delegate
Pat West ... Convention delegate

A Family Affair
A Family Affair

A Family Affair
Welcome to Carvel, Idaho

A Family Affair
(l-r) Lionel Barrymore, Julie Haydon, Cecilia Parker, Sara Haden, Eric Linden, Spring Byington

A Family Affair
Lionel Barrymore, Spring Byington, Sara Haden

A Family Affair
Cecilia Parker

A Family Affair
Mickey Rooney and Margaret Marquis

A Family Affair
Cecilia Parker and Eric Linden

A Family Affair
Julie Haydon and Allen Vincent

A Family Affair
Selmer Jackson, Lionel Barrymore, Robert Emmett Keane, Walter Soderling, Charley Grapewin, Harlan Briggs

A Family Affair
The litigants: Selmer Jackson and Robert Emmett Keane

A Family Affair
Margaret Marquis as Polly Benedict

Not Available on DVD or VHS
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1from The MGM Story by John Douglas Eames, Crown Publishers Inc., New York, 1975
2from MGM: When the Lion Roars by Peter Hay, Turner Publishing Inc., Atlanta, 1991

Crew and Cast credits from film title reel; additional cast from various sources.
Andy Hardy Fan Site ©2007 Jim Johnson - see copyright statement