Mr Blandings Builds His Dream House Review

Image for Mr Blandings Builds His Dream House

Disillusioned with the daily grind in Manhattan, Jim and Muriel Blandings decide to build a model home in the Connecticut countryside. However, its construction lurches from one crisis to another.


The United States had experienced housing crises both during the Second World War and its immediate aftermath. Thus, with countless Americans moving out of the inner cities and into the suburbs, Eric Hodgins's satirical novel had struck a chord with the harassed, but upwardly mobile populace. So, RKO couldn't really fail with this adaptation, especially after David O. Selznick persuaded Cary Grant and Myrna Loy to reunite for the third time, following Wings In The Dark and The Bachelor And The Bobby-Soxer.

Yet, for all its polish, time has not been kind to this genial box-office hit. The repetition of its domestic travails in endless sitcoms makes the humour seem flatly familiar, while Grant and Loy's byplay with black maid Gussie (Louise Beavers) and the mostly immigrant tradesmen now seems complacently patronising.  

The performances are, nevertheless, wholly engaging. Trading on her image as the perfect housewife, Loy revels in the opportunity to chide Grant and her baffling discussion of the colour scheme is delightful. But, while she prevents him from stealing every scene, her role was very much subordinated to Grant's fraught family man. Melvyn Douglas, however, was less willing to play second banana and he refused to co-star unless writer-producers Norman Panama and Melvin Frank made lawyer Bill Cole a touch more cynical and cheekier in his flirtings with Loy.  

Selznick hoped to persuade Grant and Loy to form a comic partnership that could rival Spencer Tracy and Katharine Hepburn. But Loy, who had just made the last of her Thin Man mysteries with William Powell, was reluctant to become part of another team and, so, when the film transferred to radio in 1949, Grant had to co-star with then-wife Betsy Drake, who had an occasional hand in the scripts.  

 Richard Benjamin attempted to update the story to the yuppie era in The Money Pit. But, despite Tom Hanks's best efforts, the results were decidedly mediocre.