Reel Classics

Mr. Blandings Builds His Dream House: Warner Archive Collection (1948) - Blu-ray Review

Mr. Blandings Builds His Dream House: Warner Archive Collection

The comedic timing.  The charisma of all involved.  The breaking of the fourth wall.  Hollywood’s definitive leading man!  What’s not to love about Mr. Blandings Builds His Dream House as Cary Grant takes his physical comedy and his mannerisms from the office to home construction woes?!

"The release of this screwball comedy is a huge bonus for Cary Grant fans, who earlier this year were rewarded with the Cary Grant Collection which featured some early gems in his film ascension.  Hopefully, this means that we will get Arsenic and Old Lace later this year. "


 

This screwball comedy, a REEL CLASSIC from 1948, arrives on blu-ray courtesy of the Warner Archive Collection and the results are better than I had remembered as Cary Grant, here married to the always fabulous Myrna Loy, decides that apartment life in New York City is definitely not for him and his family.  To the country they are headed! 

What could possibly go wrong?  Turns out that EVERYTHING!  Mr. Blandings is quickly in over his head in a home contract that swindles him and shorts him on acres.  Thanks to the narration of Melvyn Douglas, the Blandings’ lawyer,  as he advises them NOT to make the leap from city to country dwellings, all while smoking his pipe in his calm and relaxed manner.  He already knows that his friend is going to do whatever it is that he wants. 

And, right now, Blandings wants his freedom!

Directed by H.C. Potter (Mr. Lucky) and based on the popular novel of the same name by Eric Hodgins, Mr. Blandings Builds His Dream House is more than a detailed and comical look at what goes wrong when one family turns to the idyllic countryside for peace of mind.  It also details the falling in and out of love as one couple find themselves with more than one unexpected hill to climb on the way to paradise. 

Could living in the country - as old suspicions are flamed - be this stressful?  Yes, it can!  Thankfully, the laughs are contagious and the stares of disbelief are too as these characters shoot arrows at each other with knowing looks like few others can.

It all begins when advertising executive Jim Blandings (Grant) discovers that his wife, Muriel (Loy), has taken their frustrations about running out of room in a cramped New York City apartment and acted upon them.  This is communicated to us with a great closet gag and a bathroom mirror scene, which ends with Grant cutting himself with his razor.Mr. Blandings Builds His Dream House: Warner Archive Collection

Suddenly, there is talk of walls being taken out and rooms reshuffled much to the dismay of everyone in the house, including their two daughters, Betsy and Joan, and their housemaid Gussie (Louise Beavers).  Blandings halts the plans after hearing about the price tag of all the changes his wife wants and up the ante.  Why not just move?!

In what goes down as the witty precursor to the more bawdy antics of 1986’s The Money Pit, starring Tom Hanks and Shelley Long, and 2007’s Are We Done Yet?, with Ice Cube,  The Blandings turn to their friend Bill Cole (Douglas) to help them pick a home out in the “wilds” of Connecticut.  What they stumble upon is an old house which dates back to the Revolutionary War and, in spite of Cole’s objections, they can’t shake their own individual dreams about what the house could look like.

The house is, yup, you guessed it a money pit and, as the frame is so uneven and rotted, must be scrapped and built all over again.  Now, everyone can have what they always wanted in a home!  Except no one can agree on the plans!  Enter the carnival of contractors who try to convince them what they should and should not do with the money they find themselves having less and less of.  

The results, including getting locked in a store room in the constructed house and so on, are hilarious and surprisingly very real as we turn from comedy to drama in this REEL CLASSIC.  Because, as all of this is going on, Mr. Blandings can’t seem to come up with the right jingle for WHAM ham and quits his job over the struggle . . . that is until Gussie has her say in the matter!

The release of this screwball comedy is a huge bonus for Cary Grant fans, who earlier this year were rewarded with the Cary Grant Collection which featured some early gems in his film ascension.  Hopefully, this means that we will get Arsenic and Old Lace later this year.  Grab your copy today!

5/5 beers

 Mr. Blandings Builds His Dream House: Warner Archive Collection

Blu-ray Details

Home Video Distributor: Warner Bros.
Available on Blu-ray
- May 18, 2021
Screen Formats: 1.37:1
Subtitles
: English SDH
Audio:
English: DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 Mono
Discs: Blu-ray Disc; single disc
Region Encoding: Locked to Region A, B

Cary Grant and Myrna Loy star in this classic screwball comedy about a big city executive who wants to find a simpler life in the country when Mr. Blandings Builds his Dream House. Advertising executive Jim Blandings (Grant, Charade, North by Northwest) learns about rural life, real estate and construction the hardest way possible when he buys a farm in Connecticut and moves with his tolerant if not understanding wife, Muriel (Loy--Thin Man films), to a decaying shack that's closer to a nightmare than the house of his dreams

Video:

With a crisp black-and-white transfer, Mr. Blandings Builds His Dream House lands on blu-ray thanks to the crackling efforts of Warner Brothers Archive Collection.  Shadows, while not too terribly detailed, are thick and atmospheric throughout, highlighting the countryside the house is being built upon. Black levels - of which there are a lot thanks to all the sharply-dressed men and women - are powerful and thick.  Presented with an aspect ratio of 1.37:1, the film looks marvelous and easily beats the poor appearance on television and on home video DVD that has previously dogged it thanks to its 1080p handling.  The black-and-white photography here sizzles. The blacks and grays are handled expertly by the transfer.  

Audio:

You’ll be laughing over the DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 track which accompanies this film.

Supplements:

Commentary:

Special Features:

Fans of this feature get two radio productions, a cartoon, and the re-issue trailer. .

Blu-ray Rating

  Movie 5/5 stars
  Video  4/5 stars
  Audio 3/5 stars
  Extras 3/5 stars

Composite Blu-ray Grade

4/5 stars


Film Details

Mr. Blandings Builds His Dream House: Warner Archive Collection

MPAA Rating: Unrated.
Runtime:
94 mins
Director
: H.C Potter
Writer:
Norman Panama
Cast:
Cary Grant, Myrna Loy, Melvyn Douglas
Genre
: Comedy | Romance
Tagline:

Memorable Movie Quote: "If you ain't eatin' Wham, you ain't eatin' ham."
Theatrical Distributor:
Warner Bros.
Official Site:
Release Date:
June 4, 1948
DVD/Blu-ray Release Date:
May 18, 2021.
Synopsis: New York adman Jim Blandings is ready to say goodbye to his cramped city apartment and build, from the ground up, a Connecticut home with room enough for his growing family and dreams. All it will cost him is his time and money…and perhaps his job, marriage, happiness and what's left of his sanity. Goodbye, Manhattan. Hello, comedy. As Jim, Cary Grant is a flustered poster boy for homeowner anxiety in this gleeful laughfest. Myrna Loy, her voice and line phrasing like musical chimes, plays Jim's ever-patient wife. Louise Beavers is the sunny housemaid whose enthusiasm for Wham Ham saves Jim's career bacon. And Melvyn Douglas is the perhaps-too-friendly family friend. "Drop in and see us sometime," Jim says. Invitation accepted!

Art

Mr. Blandings Builds His Dream House: Warner Archive Collection

 

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