Well, I’m a little late (by about a week) in talking about this movie (considering one of the film’s stars was featured last month), but let’s get into it anyways! I’m talking, of course, about the 1948 film Mr. Blandings Builds His Dream House, starring Cary Grant and Myrna Loy!
Coming Up Shorts! with… The House Of Tomorrow (1949)
(Available as an extra on the Mr. Blandings Builds His Dream House Blu-ray from Warner Archive Collection or as part of Tex Avery Screwball Classics Volume 2 Blu-ray or DVD from Warner Archive Collection)
(Length: 6 minutes, 51 seconds)
We are given a tour of the house of tomorrow by the narrator. A very fun cartoon, as we see what types of contraptions that Tex Avery visualized for the future. Of course, there’s a running gag about the unwelcome “mothers-in-law” (which may be overdone just a little). Some aspects are dated, in between how it treats housewives, plus the image of the bikini-clad girl (possibly looks like Virginia Mayo, but I’m not 100% sure) for the “tired businessmen.” Apart from those issues, it looks like a lot of fun (just don’t start asking questions, or you’ll have a toilet plunger thrown at you)!
And Now For The Main Feature…
Advertising executive Jim Blandings (Cary Grant) lives in an increasingly cramped apartment in New York City with his wife Muriel (Myrna Loy) and their daughters Joan (Sharyn Moffett) and Betsy (Connie Marshall). One morning, their lawyer and friend Bill Cole (Melvyn Douglas) comes over to talk with Muriel about remodeling the apartment, but when Jim hears the $7000 price tag, he rejects the idea completely. At work, he is given a new advertising account that one of his colleagues had failed to satisfy. While looking over some of his colleague’s previous ideas, he sees an ad for a home in Connecticut, and decides to look into it. He and Muriel become enamored with the place, but the real estate salesman, sensing a golden opportunity, misrepresents the place (and sells it to them for more than it’s worth). Bill quickly figures out they paid too much for less than they were told, but, they want the house more than anything, so Jim decides not to push against the idea. They turn to a few experts to see what improvements can be made to the house, but every one of them suggests tearing it down and starting fresh. So, that’s what they do (although they get in trouble with the owner of the mortgage for not asking him first). Further troubles arise as they try to get the house designed like they want but within a decent budget. And then, of course, there’s all the difficulties (and rising costs) that come about as they try to build it. Plus, they’re evicted from their apartment before the house is complete. With all these problems (and an advertising campaign that Jim is struggling to put together while he focuses on the house), will he be able to stay sane, or will they lose everything?
Eric Hodgins, at one time a vice president of Time, Inc., originally tried to build his dream house (in 1939), but the costs skyrocketed from the estimated $11,000 up to $56,000 at completion. After two years, he was bankrupt and forced to sell his home. But he wrote an article on his experiences entitled “Mr. Blandings Builds His Castle” for Fortune magazine in 1946. This article was turned into a novel that same year, and it was quickly picked up for a movie by David O. Selznik. With the funds from the movie rights, Eric Hodgins tried (and failed) to buy back his house. But, back to the movie, David O. Selznik planned to use it to pair up Cary Grant and Myrna Loy (who had worked together previously in two movies), hoping to make them the next (Spencer) Tracy and (Katharine) Hepburn. That didn’t happen (as this was the last film that Cary Grant and Myrna Loy made together), but it was pretty well received by audiences and critics.
While I’d heard of this film before, I can’t say as I’ve ever really had the chance to see it. But, it’s a comedy, it stars Cary Grant, and it also stars Myrna Loy! That was enough of a combination for me to want to see it (especially when the Blu-ray was announced, but more on that in a moment)! Having finally seen it, the movie turned out to be even better than I would have imagined (and I imagined it would be good)! The story overall is fun, and the comedy certainly makes it better! I admit, I get a few Green Acres vibes here (you know, the 1960s sitcom), in between the dishonest real estate salesman, the broken down house, and even the doorknob on the closet! Plain and simple, this one was a good time, and one I look forward to revisiting periodically! So, if you get the chance to try it, do it! You won’t regret it (just make sure somebody is there to get you out of the closet)!
This movie is available on Blu-ray and DVD from Warner Archive Collection. The Blu-ray features a new transfer from a 4k scan of the original nitrate camera negative. As I said, this was my first time seeing it, but I would say this new Blu-ray is a typical Warner Archive release. In other words, it’s a WONDERFUL transfer, with great detail and clarity! The picture has been cleaned up of all dust and dirt and other debris. Throw in two radio productions of the story, both of which feature Cary Grant (with one featuring Irene Dunne and the other featuring Cary Grant’s then-wife Betsy Drake), and I’m sold on this release! So, if you want to see this movie looking its best, this is the way to do it!
Film Length: 1 hour, 34 minutes
My Rating: 10/10
*ranked #9 in Top 10 Disc Releases Of 2021
List Of Actor/Actress Filmographies/Collections
Song Of The Thin Man (1947) – Myrna Loy
Ninotchka (1939) – Melvyn Douglas
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