Mr. Blandings Builds His Dream House (1948): H.C. Potter’s Romantic Comedy, Starring Cary Grant and Myrna Loy in their Third (and Last) Teaming

H. C. Potter directed Mr. Blandings Builds His Dream House, a lightly satirical romantic comedy, starring the charming triangle of Cary Grant, Myrna Loy, and Melvyn Douglas, all in top form.

The film, written and produced by Melvin Frank and Norman Panama, was adapted from Eric Hodgins’ popular novel, illustrated by Shrek author William Steig.

This film was the third and last pairing of Grant and Loy, who had shown chemistry in Wings in the Dark (1935) and especially The Bachelor and the Bobby-Soxer (1947), co-starring Shirley Temple.

 

Cary Grant plays Jim Blandings, an account exec in the advertising business, who lives with his wife Muriel (Loy) and two daughters, Betsy and Joan, in a cramped New York apartment.
The first act is nearly silent, relying on Grant great physical skills as a comedian, as he goes through yet another routine day, waking up, looking for his missing socks, taking a shower, shaving with a razor and cutting himself, due to all kinds of interruptions by his wife.
Muriel secretly plans to knock out a wall and remodel their apartment for $7,000, but Jim rejects her idea.  An ad for new homes in the country sound alluring and so they plan to purchase and “fix up” an old home.
To that extent, the couple contact a real estate agent, who uses them to unload “the old Hackett Place” in  Lansdale County, Connecticut. It turns out an old dilapidated farmhouse on 35 acres where General Gates used to stop to water his horses during the Revolutionary War.
The Blandingses purchase the property for 5 times more than the going rate per acre–his friend-lawyer Bill Cole (Melvin Douglas) chastises him for following his heart rather than mind.

The old house is structurally flawed and needs to be torn down before the previous owner’s mortgage is paid off. The Blandingses hire architect Henry Simms (Reginald Denny) to design and supervise the construction of the new home.

From the original purchase to the new house’s completion, a long list of unforeseen troubles and setbacks, including digging a well, beset the hapless Blandingses and keep delaying their moving-in date.

Moreover, Jim is assigned the task of coming up with a slogan for “WHAM” Brand Ham, an advertising account that has destroyed the careers of previous account execs. Jim also suspects that Muriel is cheating on him with Bill Cole after Bill slept at the Blandingses’ in the house due to thunderstorm.

With mounting pressure, skyrocketing expenses, and his new assignment, Jim starts to wonder why he wanted to live in the country. The Blandingses’ maid Gussie provides Blandings with the perfect WHAM slogan, and he saves his job.

As the film ends, a more relaxed Grant, sits in his lawn smoking a pipe and reading the titular book, before inviting the viewers: “Drop by and see us sometime.”

The film was a commercial hit, touching a chord with many Americans who were going through suburbanization after WWII.

In 2007 a loose remake of the 1948 film was released under the title, Are We Done Yet?