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I saw this movie when it was first released in 1948. Now 50 years later I watch it again. The comedy holds up remarkably well. Say what you like about the Hollywood studios of the forties but they could turn out these pleasant entertainments seemingly without effort. The perils of buying and building a house have not changed (although the prices certainly have!)It's a delight to watch three seasoned professionals (Grant,Loy and Douglas)play against each other so well. All the minor characters are well cast. The touches of sentiment are never over done. A movie well worth seeing more than once.
Anyone who has ever embarked on a construction project, from a
tree-house to a skyscraper, will identify with the beleaguered Mr.
Blandings. His simple vision of an idyllic life in the suburbs
encounters the harsh reality of recalcitrant geology, feuding
contractors, exploding costs, and other complications -- all to
The script has a perfect ear, the director's timing is impeccable, and the sophisticated style of the stars gives the entire production a polished sheen. Cary Grant, Myrna Loy and Melvyn Douglas are all brilliant, but this is much more than a star vehicle. It's one of the best sophisticated comedies Hollywood ever committed to celluloid. And even 60 years later, the story is all too true.
This film is a fantastic showcase for Grant's bewildered man of America, and
he always did that so well. The Blandings, a 'typical New York family, on
about 15,000 a year', decide to leave their four room apartment in the city
and buy a 'dream house' in rural Connecticut.
Of course, this being a comedy, you know it won't go smoothly (you get a good clue as well from Melvyn Douglas' laconic narration here and there, as the Blandings' long-suffering lawyer, and Mrs B's high school sweetheart). First the picturesque little home is a wreck, then they start to plan a substitute (the scene where Mr and Mrs B plan what rooms their new house will have is classic), then everything that can go wrong goes wrong ... on top of this, Grant's harrassed advertising executive has to find a slogan for the bete noire of his company, Wham! ham.
My particular favourite scenes involve Myrna Loy, perfect as Mrs B, instructing which colours of paint each room will have; and a little room at the top of the house which regularly traps Grant inside. A highly recommended RKO goodie, this film. Hugely enjoyable.
Poor Mr. Blanding(Cary Grant). All he wants is the perfect house. As we find out from this lighthearted romp, getting the perfect house isn't without a lot of headaches and money spent. This film has quite a many funny moments. What I liked best was the wit of the dialogue, terrific chemistry between Myrna Loy and Grant, and the pure delight of watching Grant perfect what a great comic spirit he had. Melvyn Douglas was fun as Blanding's lawyer friend,Bill. The film has the famous funny scene where Loy is showing a painter what colors she wants each room painted in(folks, she has an unusual peculiar style of speach when it comes to her color). It has other funny bits including Grant discussing the advertising life with his daughters who are very impressioned by a teacher at school. It's core humor comes from the painstaking process of getting the home built. The specifications of this process are amusing. The film is sweet and Grant has such a breezy skill with the humor. He is a delight to watch as is the wonderful Loy. An overall worthwhile experience. ****1/2/*****
Manhattan apartment dwellers have to put up with all kinds of
inconveniences. The worst one is the lack of closet space! Some people
who eat out all the time use their ranges and dishwashers as storage
places because the closets are already full!
Melvin Frank and Norman Panama, a great comedy writing team from that era, saw the potential in Eric Hodgins novel, whose hero, Jim Blandings, can't stand the cramped apartment where he and his wife Muriel, and two daughters, must share.
Jim Blandings, a Madison Ave. executive, has had it! When he sees an ad for Connecticut living, he decides to take a look. Obviously, a first time owner, Jim is duped by the real estate man into buying the dilapidated house he is taken to inspect by an unscrupulous agent. This is only the beginning of his problems.
Whatever could be wrong, goes wrong. The architect is asked to come out with a plan that doesn't work for the new house, after the original one is razed. As one problem leads to another, more money is necessary, and whatever was going to be the original cost, ends up in an inflated price that Jim could not really afford.
The film is fun because of the three principals in it. Cary Grant was an actor who clearly understood the character he was playing and makes the most out of Jim Blandings. Myrna Loy, was a delightful actress who was always effective playing opposite Mr. Grant. The third character, Bill Cole, an old boyfriend of Myrna, turned lawyer for the Blandings, is suave and debonair, the way Melvin Douglas portrayed him. One of the Blandings girls, Joan, is played by Sharyn Moffett, who bore an uncanny resemblance to Eva Marie Saint. The great Louise Beavers plays Gussie, but doesn't have much to do.
The film is lovingly photographed by James Wong Howe, who clearly knew what to do to make this film appear much better. The direction of H.C. Potter is light and he succeeded in this film that will delight fans of classic comedies.
This is a pretty good comedy, with several good screwball-type
sequences, and yet its silliness also contains some commentary,
sometimes pointed, and much of it still pertinent. Cary Grant and Myrna
Loy are well-suited to this kind of material, and the script provides
good dialogue and some amusing situations for them and the rest of the
cast to work with.
This is certainly of particular interest to anyone who has ever faced either the kind of home-buying experience that the Blandings family goes through, or one of the many other similar experiences that life offers. The whole picture of having to deal with a bewildering assortment of contractors, workmen, lawyers, and who knows what else, is a very familiar feature of modern life, even for those who do not buy their own homes. The movie helps to point out some of the basic absurdities all of this, while providing some good humor.
The two sub-plots - the one with Melvyn Douglas and the other with Grant looking for the new slogan - are worked in rather resourcefully, so as to parallel some of the basic themes of the main story about the house, while also providing comic complications in the main plot.
Grant has the knack of making the wildest situations seem believable at the time, and even somewhat sophisticated. Loy's charm and elegance make her a very good complement to Grant's character. It's a good combination overall.
The film opens with Bill Coles (Melvyn Douglas) telling a story about how
his best friend--make that client--Jim Blandings (Cary Grant) and his family
are tightly packed into a small New York apartment, with not enough closet
space and way too few bathrooms. When Jim's wife, Muriel (Myrna Loy), wants
to renovate the apartment, advertising exec Jim falls in love with (or falls
for!) an ad for a house. Once he's purchased the house, bills and
frustration pile up incessantly as everything that can go wrong with the
building of Jim's 'dream house' goes wrong.
One of three collaborations between Grant and Loy, this is a charming little comedy--not very taxing, with no real great message, but a great way to spend an hour or two. The laughs are there right from the start, when the alarm clock goes off and Jim tries to shut it off, only to be thwarted at every turn by Muriel. The timing and delivery of the comedic lines and situations can only be given by a couple of seasoned pros, and that's just what Grant and Loy give us: polished performances, simple chemistry, and a lot of fun. Myrna Loy is in a pretty thankless role (it's evident that Grant's character Jim gets the lion share of the lines and the acting, and Grant, as always, pulls both off with remarkable aplomb), but she gives Muriel a colour, life and bite that only Myrna Loy can give a character. Melvyn Douglas plays wry amusement to perfection as well, never hitting a single wrong note.
One of my favourite scenes has definitely got to be when Bill gets himself locked in the 'store room', and Jim goes to 'save' him... only to get everyone trapped inside! Every little problem that pops up for the Blandings renovation project--including petty jealousy and an ad campaign for 'Wham'--seems to bring together everything that *could* go wrong with building a new house but makes it believable and an enjoyable watch. 8/10
Post World War 2 America. Dwight is about to take office. The typical American middle class family living together in downtown city USA. Their home is an apartment, boxed in like cattle. The opening of the movie is without sound. That is, no one needs to talk. Cary Grant is introduced with physical comedy. The everyday ordeal of having to clean up, shower, shave, is a living hell. Before a single word is spoken, you begin to feel for Cary Grant and you know exactly how he feels. By the second scene, he is ready to move up and out of the big city for rural country USA. One problem after another, The Blandings are faced with the choices they have made. Their dream house falls apart and needs to be built up one brick at a time. Their bank account, marriage, family, their entire life is on the line as they attempt to live out their dream of owning the perfect house. Much like the money pit, it is a coming of age for the middle age. A great comedy.
In Manhattan, the American middle class Jim Blandings (Cary Grant)
lives with his wife Muriel (Myrna Loy) and two teenage daughters in a
four bedroom and one bathroom only leased apartment. Jim works in an
advertising agency raising US$ 15,000.00 a year and feels uncomfortable
in his apartment due to the lack of space. When he sees an
advertisement of a huge house for sale in the country of Connecticut
for an affordable price, he drives with his wife and the real estate
agent and decides to buy the old house without any technical advice.
His best friend and lawyer Bill Cole (Melvyn Douglas) sends an
acquaintance engineer to inspect the house, and the man tells that he
should put down the house and build another one. Jim checks the
information with other engineers and all of them condemn the place and
sooner he finds that he bought a "money pit" instead of a dream house.
"Mr. Blandings Builds his Own House" is an extremely funny comedy, with witty lines and top-notch screenplay. Cary Grant is hilarious in the role of a man moved by the impulse of accomplishing with the American Dream of owning a huge house that finds that made bad choice, while losing his touch in his work and feeling jealous of his friend. In 1986, Tom Hanks worked in a very funny movie visibly inspired in this delightful classic, "The Money Pit". My vote is eight.
Title (Brazil): "Lar, Meu Tormento" ("Home, My Torment")
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Mr. Blandings Builds His Dream House (1948)
The year is 1948. Lots of returning G.I.s are struggling to adjust to post-War America and Hollywood responded with film noir. But the other side to that scene is about those who made it through the war intact, or who returned and started a family and got a job and were ready for the American Dream.
Enter the Blandings family and the beginning of the rush to suburbia. The famous Levittown middle class housing project got going full steam in 1948. Bedrooms for the kids, a lawn of your own, and, alas, a long commute were going to be the new reality.
The comic first few minutes (with a sarcastic voice-over) show New York to be crazed mayhem, which sets you up for the last few minutes showing a much less sarcastic mayhem in Connecticut. Historic preservation is years away for most Americans, so the old house and its lovely stone foundations inspire only the intoned, "Tear it down." And the dream house, on the salary of this not so unbland rich advertising executive (Cary Grant), goes up. His wife, also not completely bland, played by Myrna Loy, manages to make her spoiled greed cute, if unreasonable to both her husband and to us. Throw in a very contrived conflict of an old love interest of hers, and you have the gist of it all.
As much as I love both Loy and Grant very much, and was glad to see this again, the writing and editing and filming struck me as clunky and uninspired. It's funny at times, for sure, but with lots of groans or lulls between. I know this is a matter of taste, and I see a lot of people give this movie high marks, and I don't blame them. But just a heads up on it. I just watched some earlier Grant screwballs (Philadelphia Story, His Girl Friday) and saw Loy in the Thin Man series, and maybe Mr. Blandings is just thin going by comparison. Director H.C. (Henry, not Harry) Potter was unknown then as now, and you get a feeling another director, a Cukor or a Hawks, might have pulled of a different feeling with the same parts.
The basic story was timely then and might make sense to anyone now who has tried to rehab an old house or build a new one. That was the hook for me, and I felt for Mr. Blandings. However, the little tensions that make for comic, not tragic, possibility are diffused almost as soon as they begin. You'll see this most in the hinted at jealousy Mr. Blandings has for the sidekick adviser played by Melvyn Douglas. When Blandings suspects some foulplay with his wife you see Grant's face come alive, and then a minute later Mrs. Blandings (Loy) has convinced him it's not true. All is well. Back to drab wisecracks and stereotyped construction workers.
This is not really a screwball comedy so much as a screwy one, silly and restrained in some wrong places. Character actors are, normally, supposed to have character, and too often little bit parts that have potential come out all permanent press, from Douglas to the secretary in Mr. Blandings's office. The African-American maid is a wonderful, lively actress and brief gust of fresh air, but she is also typecast. This isn't so rare to mention in this period, but the plot brings attention to it because she invents the very phrase that Mr. Blandings is being paid big bucks to come up with, and Blandings uses it. What does she get? A ten dollar raise.
Social justice, not.
Watch this movie for purely frivolous entertainment, which it can be at its best.
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