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Mr. Blandings Builds His Dream House (1948) stars Cary Grant and Myrna Loy as a Manhattan couple looking to ditch their city dwelling for domestic bliss in the Connecticut countryside, only to find the way littered with obstacles.
Shortly after finding the "perfect" house, Jim and Muriel Blandings discover the structure is on the verge of collapse and decide to demolish the 170-year old estate and start from scratch. What follows is a debacle of new windows, doors and doorknobs that break, plumbing installed that doesn't work, and aggravation from temperamental architects, contractors and neighbors.
As he sees his dream house construction crawl along to completion, Jim Blandings' frustration grows. Keeping a steady head is Loy's Muriel Blandings, whose only real conundrum is over the variety of color choices available for each room.
Debonair Melvyn Douglas -- one of only a handful of actors to receive an Oscar, an Emmy, and a Tony award -- also stars as the Blandings' family friend and lawyer Bill Cole, who tries to keep costs of the dream house under control. But he also adds romantic complications: Jim Blandings suspects him of wooing away his wife. When Douglas was first offered work in the movie, he wasn't immediately taken with the role. He met with the writers and worked on alterations that gave his role a more satiric, and "Melvyn Douglas," slant. He also provides the wry and humorous narration throughout the film.
Mr. Blandings Builds His Dream House was the third and last pairing of Grant and Loy, who had shared a comfortable chemistry previously in The Bachelor and the Bobby-Soxer (1947) and Wings In the Dark (1935). At the time, Grant and Loy were both in the middle of a period of high popularity, with Grant coming off profitable years with Notorius (1946) and The Bishop's Wife (1947), and with fan favorite I Was a Male War Bride (1949) just around the corner. Loy had won wide acclaim for The Best Years of Our Lives (1946) and had teamed up with William Powell for another installment their popular "Thin Man" series, Song of the Thin Man (1947).
Mr. Blandings Builds His Dream House was also the third film Grant made with producer David O. Selznik. After buying up the rights to the Eric Hodgins' novel, Selznik cast Grant and Loy, who he envisioned as a future powerhouse comedic team, much like Spencer Tracy and Katharine Hepburn. That future pairing never developed, but Grant and Loy's work in Mr. Blandings Builds His Dream House was well received by audiences and critics alike.
Adapting the novel for the screen were Melvin Frank and Norman Panama, an Oscar-nominated duo who wrote a slew of comedies in the 1940s (such as 1942's Road to Utopia) and directed their own work in the decades after.
In a small role is Lex Barker, playing a carpenter. Barker would later play Tarzan in a series of movies in the 1950s. Also in a bit part is Jason Robards Sr., father of his more famous namesake.
The trials and tribulations of home ownership portrayed in Mr. Blandings Builds His Dream House resonated with a public living in the post-war housing boom. The premise was reworked later for a radio series in 1949, starring Grant and his future wife Betsy Drake, who also wrote some of the scripts. And over the years, the plot has been reincarnated countless times, most notable in 1986's Money Pit, starring Tom Hanks.
Producer: Melvin Frank, Norman Panama
Director: H. C. Potter
Screenplay: Melvin Frank, Eric Hodgins, Norman Panama
Cinematography: James Wong Howe
Film Editing: Harry Marker
Art Direction: Carroll Clark, Albert S. D'Agostino
Music: Leigh Harline
Cast: Cary Grant (Jim Blandings), Myrna Loy (Muriel Blandings), Melvyn Douglas (Bill Cole), Reginald Denny (Henry Simms), Sharyn Moffett (Joan Blandings), Connie Marshall (Betsy Blandings), Louise Beavers (Gussie), Ian Holm (Smith).
BW-94m. Closed captioning. Descriptive Video.
by Amy Cox