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Mr Blandings Builds His Dream House  

I must say that I'm somewhat spoiled. I still live in my parents home, eat their food, breathe their air, and don`t have to pay most of the bills. I don`t have to worry about the hassles of getting a new house for myself. And after seeing the evidence presented in Mr. Blandings Builds His Dream House, I don`t think I would want the hassles!

Cary Grant stars as an employee for an ad agency, who has had enough of the cramped apartment he and his family have to live in. The first section of the film is worthy of silent film comedy, as we are treated to an endless stream of problems which can occur when there are too many things (and people) in too little space. Like, the difficulty of having two people trying to use the washroom sink at the same time. Mislaid articles of clothing. And, of course, the problem of trying to keep all the clutter in the closet. His wife figures the problems would be solved if there were some remodelling, but Grant is against the idea. But, his objection soon turns to grandeur, as he later envisions a day where he can own a home which could truly be his castle, with all the space in the world for everything. And all his household problems will be over, right.......?

Actually, what occurs is the same old story: whatever can go wrong, does. Grant and his wife prove to have no sense of monetary regard, as they are first suckered in by a crafty real estate agent who sells them a clearly worthless building on atrocious land by claiming it is an historical landmark. After they are soon forced to knock down the house, they find out that they had to have asked permission first as it was still mortgaged. Then, as they plan for a design of the new house, the result is such an ungainly structural mess, that it would cost much more than originally planned. And even more problems arise!

The delicious irony in all of this is the fact that Grant`s character, an expert at crafting catchy, seductive advertisements, buys into his own exaggerated sales pitch. He is completely absorbed in the romantic image of a wonderful, extravagant home, that he is oblivious, and later bitter over the reality of the actual product. He reveals his cynicism to be second only to his vanity, and when the bubble bursts, he comes unglued. It gets even worse when he becomes insanely paranoid that the couple`s lawyer, who was his wife`s old flame, seems to be twisting his way back to her attentions.

I`m beginning to think Cary Grant is one of my all-time favourites now. He has a smooth, and seemingly effortless acting style which few actors can match. He is a comedian with a suave sophistication. His wit and quick turns of sarcastic phrase are worthy of any comedy (His Girl Friday and The Philadelphia Story contain other fine roles), yet he has enough attitude and confidence that, if he had been able to, he could have played James Bond. (His role in Hitchcock`s North By Northwest has a similar charm within a fairly Bond-like atmosphere)

Overall, this is a great comedy; the sort they don`t make much of anymore. To be fair, the movie is old-fashioned in its attitudes concerning marriage and jealousy. But it is all done in good-natured fun, and no offense should be taken. And the fact that this movie is willing to focus almost entirely on variations of real estate - and succeed quite well with it - is pretty neat. Its easy charm and great performances make this a brilliant comedy.

David Macdonald

David Macdonald's Movie Reviews

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