US Release Date: 03-25-1948
Directed by: H.C. Potter
- Cary Grant, as
- Jim Blandings
- Myrna Loy, as
- Muriel Blandings
- Melvyn Douglas, as
- Bill Cole
- Reginald Denny, as
- Henry Simms
- Sharyn Moffett, as
- Joan Blandings
- Connie Marshall, as
- Betsy Blandings
- Louise Beavers as
Cary Grant and Myrna Loy share a mirror in Mr. Blandings Builds His Dream House.
Mr. Blandings Builds His Dream House is a timeless film. Anyone whose ever bought or built a home can relate to it. The stress, unexpected problems and funding in owning a home are pretty much the same now as they were 60 years ago. The one huge difference is listening to the cost of everything. If I lived then but made what I make now, I would be set!
Grant, Loy and their two daughters live in a small New York apartment. It is actually not a small New York apartment but they have outgrown it none the less. They were going to tear down a wall to increase it's size but decide to buy and move to an old home in Connecticut instead. Of course things do not go as planned and the nearly two hundred year old home has to be demolished and rebuilt. What ensues is Grant going through the stress and strain of it all. To make matters worse, he has problems at work. He is in advertising and has to come up with a sales pitch for a ham.
Grant's charisma was often in just watching his charmingly cool characters fall apart. "It's a conspiracy, I tell you. The minute you start, they put you on the all-American sucker list. You start out to build a home and wind up in the poorhouse. And if it can happen to me, what about the guys who aren't making $15,000 a year? The ones who want a home of their own. It's a conspiracy, I tell you - -against every boy and girl who were ever in love." Grant gets all of the best lines. My personal favorite of his is, "Nothing, Mary. Just a private joke between me and whoever my analyst is going to be."
Loy, who played more wife roles than anyone in Hollywood, holds her own against Grant. When Grant says to her, "Every time he goes out of this house, he shakes my hand and kisses you." Loy responds, "Would you prefer it the other way around?" Her best scene is when she explains, to the house painters, what color she wants each room to be. Try to keep up with her descriptions.
Mr. Blandings Builds His Dream House is a film for the generations. With all the troubles that the Blandings go through you could almost think this was a farce, but if you think that then you have obviously never bought or built a home.
Myrna Loy, Cary Grant and Melvyn Douglas in Mr. Blandings Builds His Dream House.
This is one of my favorite Cary Grant movies. This was made during his middle years as a movie star. Of all the great stars whose careers spanned the 1930's to the 1960's, his was the most consistent (with the possible exception of John Wayne). Myrna Loy is one of my favorite actresses of the era as well and this is the perfect vehicle for their charm and talents.
Eric already mentioned my favorite scene. The one where Myrna describes the colors she wants for the different rooms. At one point she is holding up a small sample and she is telling the man that the color she wants matched is a tiny dot on the fabric. She then tells him for the shade of yellow she desires that he should go to the local grocer and get a pound of his finest butter. It is truly an hilarious scene.
Although the movie belongs to Grant and Loy, Melvyn Douglas deserves at least a mention as their lawyer and best friend. His best scene is where the bridge to town is closed due to a storm and Grant cannot get home. Meanwhile Douglas is stranded at the new house with Loy. When a man comes to tell them about the bridge being out he naturally assumes that Douglas is Loy's husband. It causes an awkward but very funny moment.
There is something quite magical about certain old Hollywood movies. It is an indefinable mix of star dust, nostalgia and star power. Mr. Blandings Builds His Dream House has it in spades.
Cary Grant, Louise Beavers and Myrna Loy in Mr. Blandings Builds His Dream House.
I've yet to see a Cary Grant performance that I haven't enjoyed. He had so much charisma that he makes any movie better just by being in it. This one for instance, is definitely helped by his presence, along with Loy and Douglas. Its premise is not much stronger than an average family sitcom, but the cast is so good that it rises far above the simple plot.
There are some very good lines in the movie as well. Both Patrick and Eric mentioned some good ones, but I also enjoyed Grant's botched slogans for Wham! Ham, such as, "This little piggy went to market. A meek and as mild as a lamb. He smiled in his tracks. When they slipped him the axe. He KNEW he'd turn out to be Wham!" And the exchange between Loy and Grant when Muriel says, "I refuse to endanger the lives of my children in a house with less than four bathrooms." To which Grant replies, "For 1,300 dollars they can live in a house with three bathrooms and rough it."
I suppose it's because Grant is supposed to be a native New Yorker who never lived in the country before, but his character does seem rather naive and a little dumb when it comes to building a house. Also, for someone who seems so careful with money at the beginning of the film, he quickly starts chucking it around without question once the house gets going. Maybe if they'd been a younger couple it might have seemed more natural, but Grant is an advertising executive and Loy's no spring chicken. You'd think they'd have a bit more sense, but then I've never bought a home before and maybe it makes you do silly things, either way those are minor quibbles that in no way detract from the charm of this movie.
While I wouldn't say this is my favorite Cary Grant movie, it's definitely a funny and charming one with a great supporting cast.
Photos © Copyright RKO Radio Pictures (1948)