Mr. Blandings Builds His Dream House

"Good"

Mr. Blandings Builds His Dream House Review


By the time Cary Grant took on the role of Jim Blandings, the hapless hero of this would-be screwball comedy about the perils of home ownership, he no longer had to prove himself as a great comic actor. His charm-school looks and exacting sense of timing propelled three of the finest comedies from Hollywood's golden age -- Bringing Up Baby (1938), His Girl Friday (1940), and The Philadelphia Story (1940) -- but here he doesn't seem particularly compelled to top himself. The script doesn't light much of a fire under him either. What makes those three earlier movies so enduring is their speed -- the way the jokes keep coming, and the way Grant and his cohorts keep knocking them out of the park -- and Dream House is built out of much weaker material.

Grant plays Blandings, a Manhattan advertising executive who lives in a too-small apartment with his wife Muriel (Myrna Loy), their two children, and a maid. After a clunky opening sequence that oversells just how tightly packed everybody is, the Blandings go house-hunting in Connecticut, where they fall for a large house on an estate of rolling hills. They've rushed into things, though: the broker mischaracterized the size of the property and the state of the home, which is beyond repair and needs to be torn down. The idea of the Blandings setting off to build a brand-new house initially seems like solid comic fodder, but there really aren't too many jokes to tell within the setup - most revolve around the ever-escalating construction tab, and shots of Grant making outraged noises and widening his eyes get old fast. Jim's lawyer friend Bill Cole (Melvyn Douglas) is a decent straight man, but he's also hooked into a go-nowhere infidelity subplot that drags down an already sluggish film.

Dream House is best appreciated as a sort of adult version of teenage hygiene films from the '40s and '50s, which advised adolescents on the best ways to study, go on dates, and dress themselves. Coming just after the end of World War II, Dream House reflects the eagerness of that generation to actively pursue the American Dream of a suburban house with a fireplace and a big sprawling lawn - the perfect place for hosting garden parties where nobody says anything too offensive and everybody's careful not to laugh too loud.

The DVD includes a Cary Grant trailer gallery; two radio broadcasts of the story featuring Grant as a costar; and The House of Tomorrow, a cartoon directed by Tex Avery that has more laughs and irreverence in it than the film itself.



Mr. Blandings Builds His Dream House

Facts and Figures

Run time: 94 mins

In Theaters: Friday 4th June 1948

Distributed by: RKO

Production compaines: RKO Radio Pictures

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 3 / 5

Rotten Tomatoes: 80%
Fresh: 12 Rotten: 3

IMDB: 7.4 / 10

Cast & Crew

Director: H.C. Potter

Starring: as Jim Blandings, as Muriel Blandings, as Bill Cole, as Henry L. Simms, Sharyn Moffett as Joan Blandings, Connie Marshall as Betsy Blandings, as Gussie, Ian Wolfe as Smith, as Tesander, Tito Vuolo as Mr. Zucca, as Joe Appollonio, Jason Robards Sr. as John W. Retch, as Mary, Lex Barker as Carpenter Foreman, Emory Parnell as Mr. PeDelford

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