At the age of 44, Cary Grant first allowed himself to be fully domesticated in Mr. Blandings Builds His Dream House (1948). Oh, he’d played married men before and once — in George Stevens’ Penny Serenade (1941) he even had a child — but he’d never before presented himself a solid family man with two daughters — and one of them in her teens, no less. Only the year before in The Bachelor and the Bobby Soxer he’d played the last word in cool, worldly bachelors. Whatever caused him to suddenly embrace middle age (he forgot it the next year in I Was a Male War Bride), he at least chose a pretty good film to do it in. The story and many aspects of it are pretty shameless “borrowings” from George Washington Slept Here (both the 1940 play by George S. Kaufman and Moss Hart and the 1942 film of it), but the approach here is less frenetic and more cozy. This isn’t a satire on city folk moving to the country, it’s more of a — well, sitcom. But it’s a good sitcom and a perfectly cast one — even to the bit parts. The major appeal lies in the interaction of and chemistry between Grant and Myrna Loy, but even the smallest parts are perfectly judged. Just check out the series of experts called in to advise what to do about the nearly collapsing house they’ve bought. Or look at the wonderful scene where Loy carefully explains in painful detail to tolerant painters what colors to paint each room. These are the little touches that hold the film together and help make it something of a delight.
Pack Memorial Library will screen Mr. Blandings Builds His Dream House Tuesday, May 14 at 3 p.m.