Mr. Blandings Builds His Dream House

Movie Information

The Asheville Art Museum, 2 Pack Square South (in Pack Place), will present Mr. Blandings Builds His Dream House on Saturday, August 4, and Sunday, August 5, at 2 p.m. Admission is $6 for adults, $5 for seniors and students (free to museum members).
Score:

Genre: Comedy
Director: H.C. Potter
Starring: Cary Grant, Myrna Loy, Melvyn Douglas, Reginald Denny, Louise Beavers
Rated: NR

Imagine my shock—not to mention distaste—when I went online to the IMDb site to check something about Mr. Blandings Builds His Dream House (1948) and found that the first film that turns up when you type in the title is the dismal so-called remake Are We Done Yet? that was thrust on an unsuspecting world earlier this year. The real Mr. Blandings showed up as the second possibility for what I was after. Stuff and nonsense. Balder and dash. Anyway, the Asheville Art Museum will be screening the 1948 original, not the Ice Cubed travesty of it. Maybe Mr. Blandings isn’t a great comedy, but it’s a very good one. It’s also the film that first domesticated Cary Grant, and remains perhaps the most effective of Grant’s domesticated films. Grant’s performance as the much put-upon Jim Blandings is one of his sharpest—a perfect (and perfectly good-humored) portrait of a regular guy (to the degree that Cary Grant could be called that) driven to the point of madness by the increasingly complex and expensive adventures of trying to build a house. The film is also a perfect comment on its era—the one in which people started leaving the city for the suburbs or even the country. (The George S. Kaufman-Moss Hart play George Washington Slept Here had something of this and almost certainly left its mark on Mr. Blandings.)

With Grant and Myrna Loy in the leads, Melvyn Douglas in support as the family friend (who seems pretty besotted with Loy), reliable Reginald Denny as the architect and the great Louise Beavers as the family maid (who inadvertently saves Grant’s job), it’s hardly surprising that the film is generally delightful, despite the somewhat lackluster direction of H.C. Potter. (Grant probably liked working with him a few years earlier on Mr. Lucky (1943), but Potter’s career is largely uninteresting.) It’s an altogether charming and funny depiction of the American Dream, of a showplace home going wrong at every turn—albeit of mild concern, since we know from the onset that it’ll all work out. I mean, come on, it’s a Cary Grant picture!

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About Ken Hanke
Head film critic for Mountain Xpress since December 2000. Author of books "Ken Russell's Films," "Charlie Chan at the Movies," "A Critical Guide to Horror Film Series," "Tim Burton: An Unauthorized Biography of the Filmmaker."

6 thoughts on “Mr. Blandings Builds His Dream House

  1. Isn’t it a conflict of interest for Hanke to review a biopic about his own family?

    Oh wait, it’s Mr. Blandings, not Mr. Bland.

    Wake me up when you review Tron.

  2. Ken Hanke

    You disappoint me. I had so expected someone of your taste, manner and bearing to express dismay over the fact that they weren’t running the Ice Cube remake (it comes out on DVD on Aug. 7 — reserve your copy.

    For your penance, I suggest you a large dose of Rob Schneider with a Jimmy Fallon chaser.

  3. Ken Hanke

    There’s a sadistic streak in you somewhere, but I think I’ll pass on this offer. I wouldn’t sit through that one if you paid me…wait a minute, I did sit through that one because they paid me…well, anyway, I’m not sitting through it again for free.

  4. Ken Hanke

    Boy, do you ever set a tempting snare, but I cannot be bought for the price of Strawberry Quick and a trampoline.

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