Mr. Blandings Grand Designs
For those fans of modern TV renovation programmes such as "Grand Designs" and "Homes Under the Hammer" a trip down memory lane and to 1948 is in order to watch Cary Grant in "Mr. Blandings Builds His Dream House". With its story of a family having grown out of their city residents deciding to build their own home in Connecticut it is full of the building nightmares which are highlighted in these TV shows from decrepit old buildings, escalating expenses and time delays. Basically everything which could go wrong with building a home does but in a comical manner and at the centre of this comedy is Cary Grant as Jim Blandings who starts of enthusiastic and slowly the stress of it all starts affecting him. If you've seen "The Money Pit" with Tom Hanks then you will have the general idea of what "Mr. Blandings Builds His Dream House" is but with humour which is more real than exaggerated.
Having outgrown their apartment in Manhattan the Blandings decide to escape the hub-bub of the city and move to Connecticut even if it means that Jim Blandings (Cary Grant - The Bishop's Wife) will have to commute to the city everyday. Having bought an old house on 35 acres of land Jim and his wife Muriel (Myrna Loy - Cheaper by the Dozen) plan to renovate it, that is until they are told it is unsafe and so instead decide to knock it down and build their dream home so that they and their 2 daughters will have all the room in the world. But from the word go it not only becomes stressful but also expensive especially for Jim as at the same time as dealing with the architect and builders also has to come up with an advertising campaign for popular meat WHAM.
"Mr. Blandings Builds His Dream House" is basically a two part movie with the first part being all about how the Blandings having outgrown their Manhattan apartment. It's a short part but we watch as Jim struggles with their cramped living status he shares with his wife and two daughters plus a maid who comes in every day. From climbing over things to manoeuvre around the apartment from trying to have his morning shave as his wife gets in his way it's all about the comedy of not only being cramped but also Jim being the only male in a female household.
The first part whilst great fun paves the way for all the building side of things as Jim and Muriel are conned into buy a decrepit old home and find that rather than renovate they need to knock it down and rebuild. Now if you've ever seen any of the various TV shows about home building you will know what problems that people encounter and basically every single problem shows up in "Mr. Blandings Builds His Dream House". From money worries to outrageous designs, escalating costs and sticking doors every issue both large and small crop up as we watch the easy going Jim becoming more and more desperate.
As such "Mr. Blandings Builds His Dream House" is very much a movie about Jim and therefore a movie which relies heavily on Cary Grant to make it work and he does. From starting off as easy going to become more and more desperate Grant is simply funny, but never in an exaggerated way as all the humour is grounded in reality. And it is because Grant displays his wonderful comic timing be it in the scene where he is trying to shave or in his dealings with the architect and builders that it's hard not to smile.
It's not just a one man show as Myrna Loy as Muriel Blandings delivers some minor moments of humour but more often or not is funny because she seems so oblivious to her husband's stress levels. And then there is Melvyn Douglas as their friend and lawyer Bill Cole who plays it straight but still has some funny lines. Although having said that the subplot about Muriel and Bill having once been an item during their college years, leading Jim to be suspicious is an added story that isn't needed.
What this all boils down to is that "Mr. Blandings Builds His Dream House" is one of those old movies which is simply just good fun even 60 + years since it was released. It is a simple movie all about the stresses of building a home but in it's simplicity it's entertaining as is Cary Grant who effortlessly delivers every moment of humour be it a comical look or a moment of almost slapstick.