In the 1948 film, Mister Blandings Builds His Dream House, New York City advertising executive Jim Blandings (Cary Grant) shares a cramped apartment with his wife (Myrna Loy) and his daughters. In a fit of inspiration and pique, Blandings decides to move his family into a beautiful old house in rural Connecticut about an hour from the city. However, Murphy’s Law hits in force and before Blandings knows it, he’s having to build a new home from scratch.
While this film is seventy-five years old, it’s still charming. While both Grant and Loy were veterans of more uproarious screwball comedies in the 1930s, Mister Blanding Builds His Dream House‘s comedy is different. It’s down-to-earth, subtle, and relatable. Anyone who’s gotten themselves into the stressful and complicated process of a real estate transaction should be able to relate to the Blanding’s plight, though the situations are amped up for comedic effect. Long-suffering family friend and lawyer Bill Cole (Melvyn Douglas) is both a great voice of reason and delivers the best comedic lines in the film. The film also has a serious point and character arc for Jim that really only becomes apparent in a surprise end towards the end of the picture..
The film did have points that seemed underdeveloped. In particular, Jim’s struggles to develop a slogan for Wham! (an obvious ripoff of Spam) because a predominant plot point in the last quarter of the movie. Having Cary Grant read off lame slogan ideas isn’t exactly comedy gold and we’re given little reason to care about him coming up with this whole issue. The threat of losing his job could have gotten me to care if done right, but there’s no reason to think he doesn’t get another job just a s good in two weeks.
Still, this is a very enjoyable film when it sticks to its strengths aa a story of love and real estate.
Rating: 4..0 out of 5.0
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Note: There was a 1951 radio follow up series to this film called Mr. and Mrs. Blandings. The series will be the focus of this Summer’s Amazing World of Radio podcast summer series beginning Wednesday.