Mr. Blandings Builds His Dream House

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MR. BLANDINGS BUILDS HIS DREAM HOUSE and lucky for us, the foundation is solid.  Incidentals—prices, gadgets and a few attitudes— have changed since this comedy came out in 1948, but the idea is universal, the plot is still surefire, the framework of events within acts holds up and the craftsmanship makes it hard to resist.  It’s very funny.*

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Cramped in their New York City apartment, advertising exec Cary Grant and wife Myrna Loy stake hopes and money (open the tap, see it stick) on buying and remodeling a historic property in the ‘wilds’ of Connecticut.  Daughters, best friend (Melvyn Douglas) and loyal maid in tow, over a quick, slick 98 minutes they score lots of chuckles from the witty script (Melvin Frank & Norman Panama). With no swearing, no brutal pratfalls, no mean-spirited destruction!  The girls (Connie Marshall and Sharyn Moffett) are cute, smart and glib without being irritating.

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Grant, 44, was coming off six straight hits, Loy, a year younger, was fresh off The Bachelor And The Bobby-Soxer (with Grant), The Best Years Of Our Lives and the last of six ‘Thin Man’ flicks.

Directed by H.C. Potter, it made $3,140,000, 16th for the year, but its cost factor had it marking a loss of $225,000, comically ironic in view of the plot.  With Louise Beavers, Reginald Denny, Lex Barker, Ian Wolfe, Nestor Paiva, Harry Shannon, Lurene Tuttle and Emory Parnell.

If you ain’t eatin’ Wham, you ain’t eatin’ ham.”

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* The story is a great example of the Lemon-into-Lemonade maxim. Written as a book in 1946 by Eric Hodkins (selling a nice 546,000 copies), it recounted his 1939 experiences when the anticipated budget of $11,000 for his dream house morphed to a total of $56,000, nearly driving him bankrupt. The place is still standing in New Milford, Connecticut (back in 2004 it sold for $1,200,000), as is the house built in Malibu for the movie, now perched in a California state park. A promo gimmick for the film had 73 replicas built around the country, raffled off or sold.

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