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"Mr. Blandings Builds His Dream House"

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Character's Name: Jim Blandings
Release Date:  March 25, 1948
Director: H.C. Potter
Studio: RKO Radio
Running Time: 93 minutes

Cast: Cary Grant (Jim Blandings), Myrna Loy (Muriel Blandings), Melvyn Douglas (Bill Cole), Reginald Denny (Henry Sims), Sharyn Moffett (Joan Blandings), Connie Marshall (Betsy Blandings), Louise Beavers (Gussie), Ian Wolfe (Smith), Harry Shannon (W.E. Tesander), Tito Vuolo (Zucca), Nestor Paiva (Joe Appollonio), Jason Robards (John Retch), Lurene Tuttle (Mary), Lex Barker (Carpenter), Emory Parnell (Mr. BeDelford)

Whatever Happened to Mr. Blandings Dream Home?

When Jim Blandings built his dream house, it wasn’t in rural Connecticut, but rather 3,000 miles away in the hills above Malibu. Such is the magic of movies.

Photocopy of a promotional still from the film  

In 1948, RKO Studios needed a rural setting in which to film exteriors for their comedy “Mr. Blandings Builds His Dream House”. Their neighboring studio, 20th Century Fox, had 2,000 acres of dramatic landscape in the Malibu hills that served as their location ranch, so a deal was made and construction began.

Many films were shot (at least partly) at Fox Ranch, most notably “How Green Was My Valley”; “Viva Zapata” with Anthony Quinn and Marlon Brando; the “Daniel Boone” television series with Fess Parker; “Love Me Tender” with Elvis Presley and “Dr. Dolittle” with Rex Harrison. Perhaps the two most famous films shot there were a part of the famous cliff jump scene from “Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid” and the original “Planet of the Apes” with Charleton Heston and Roddy McDowell. The best-known production staged at the ranch was the beloved M*A*S*H television series where exteriors were shot for 11 years.

Mr Blandings Dream House in the 1980’s

In 1974, Fox sold their ranch to the state of California and it opened two years later as Malibu Creek State Park.

Aerial view from Google

Parks departments nationwide are chronically underfunded, so it should be no surprise and perhaps it is cosmically fated, that the once breathtaking Blandings house is now quite bland. It remains however, as administrative offices for park employees and as an important part of the history of Malibu Creek State Park. www.malibucreekstatepark.org

Los Angeles Times articles related to the Blandings home:

Recent photo of the Blandings House as it looks todayHollywood Gives Millions Annually to Charities
'Blandings' House Built in Record Time
States 'Sub' for Scene in New England
Mrs. Blandings Builds a Dream Kitchen advertisement
'Dream House' Picture Opens in Many Theaters


If you'd like more information about the Blandings home, please contact Brian Rooney.


- by Zoë Shaw
The Blanding's are looking for their dream house. They end up buying a 170 year old house for 5 times more than it is worth. The trouble starts when the house shows its age and has to be torn down...

- by Jerelyn Stanley
Mr. Blandings Builds His Dream House stars Cary Grant and Myrna Loy as a New York couple attempting to leave the bustle of Manhattan for their dream house in the country.

The film begins in the overcrowded apartment occupied by the Blandings family... parents and two daughters. Wife wants to redecorate, husband doesn't want to spend thousands on an apartment, so soon they are buying an old house in Connecticut.

The old house they buy, thinking of it as their dream house, soon shows itself to be a nightmare and has to be torn down. Soon they are busy planning to build a new house, and this is where the fun really begins!

Things begin to go wrong from the start, when the the old house is torn down without the former owner's permission and he demands full payment on the mortgage.

The "dream house" building takes on a life of its own, where everything that could go wrong, or cost more money, does. The whole thing seems almost out of control.

Things work out in the end and the Blandings end up happy in their house, but the trials and tribulations they suffer along the way are something to watch and enjoy!!

VARIETY Film Review - October 17, 1948
- by "Brog"
- submitted by Barry Martin
"Mr. Blandings Builds His Dream House" is a mildly amusing comedy with strength enough in star names to pull through to satisfactory grosses. Cary Grant's boxoffice value will be an important aid in boosting initial ticket sales, and names of Myrna Loy, Melvin Douglas and others are marquee familiars.

Eric Hodgins' novel of the trials and tribulations of the Blandings, while building their dream house, read a lot funnier than they filmed. Norman Panama and Melvin Frank come through with a glossy luster in handling physical production, but failed to jell the story into solid film fare in their dual scripting.

Film's opening pulls some standard sight gags that register strongly, helped by the business injected through H.C. Potter's direction. Such elemental situations as a "Fibber McGee closet," the sight of a man trying to shave while his wife shares the basin, and other such familiar stunts are always good for a laugh response. Less funny is the sight of a man trying to make ends meet on $15,000 a year, especially to the average filmgoer who squeezes by on considerably less. Script gets completely out of hand when unnecessary jealousy twist is introduced, neither advancing the story nor adding laughs.

Grant is up to his usual performance standard as Mr. Blandings, getting the best from the material, and Myrna Loy comes through with another of her screen wife assignments nicely. Melvyn Douglas, the lawyer friend of the family, gives it a tongue-in-cheek treatment. Trio's finesse and Potter's light directorial touch do much to give proceedings a lift.

Reginald Denny, the architect, is good, as are Ian Wolf, the sharp Yankee realtor; Louise Beavers, the maid; Harry Shannon, Tito Vuolo, Nestor Paiva and others. The Blandings' young daughters are played by Sharyn Moffett and Connie Marshall.

On the technical end, film has some class contributions. James Wong, Howe's lensing is expert. Art directors Albert S. D'Agostino and Carroll Clark really dreamed up a dream house and the set decorations show it off. Leigh Harline's score, the editing and other factors are good. 

- by Kathy Fox

This movie is based on a book by the same name written by Eric Hodgins.  This is Cary Grant's 52nd movie, his third with Myrna Loy; the others being WINGS IN THE DARK in 1935, and THE BACHELOR AND THE BOBBY-SOXER in 1947.  Cary had just met Betsy Drake aboard the Queen Mary on his return trip from England, and she came to join him in California as he did this film. This is a cute story about the trials and tribulations of building a new home.  The Blandings lived in New York City and in order to get away from the hustle and bustle, they decided to build a home in Connecticut.  It is Murphy's Law, and everything that can go wrong, goes wrong.  Cary and Myrna were very comfortable with each other and it shows on the screen.  This movie was filmed in sequence, which is hardly ever done in movie making.  This is a great movie for the family and if you are deciding to build a new home.  Cary is at his greatest with his portrayal as a frustrated advertising man.  I believe that Cary had three different careers:  One from 1932 to 1937, when he played mostly cast-off roles and mediocre roles; then his second career from 1937, starting with THE AWFUL TRUTH, and ending with DREAM WIFE in 1953, when he decided to quit films, and then his third career, when Alfred Hitchcock lured him back to film making in 1955 with TO CATCH A THIEF, co-staring Grace Kelly, until his last film in 1966, WALK, DON'T RUN.  With MR. BLANDINGS, he was in the middle of his second career, most attractive, and by this time was able to select his scripts and control much of what he was doing on the screen.  This film is timeless and will no doubt be popular for all time.

NEW YORK TIMES Film Review - March 26, 1948
- by Bosley Crowther
- submitted by Barry Martin
If the much-talked-about housing problem could be as happily resolved for all as it is for those fortunate people who watch "Mr. Blandings Builds His Dream House" on the Astor's screen, then one of our major dilemmas in the domestic area would be a national bon. For the business, as here represented, of a man putting a roof over his family's head is so harmlessly entertaining and so conducive to a feeling of good-will that, made the experience of a nation, it could change the destiny of the world.

But, alas, the spirit of this picture - and the troubles recounted therein - are as far from the realm of realities as Connecticut is from Sheepshead Bay. Indeed, they are also slightly distant from the novel which Eric Hodgins wrote, which in turn (we are told) was a wild fancy in comparison with his own experience.

However, as straight entertainment, this ambling and genial report on a young advertising man's disasters (and final triumph) in becoming a country squire is as much casual fun as can be looked for on our sparsely provided screen. And it is a charming - though mildly arresting - inspiration to daring folks to build a house. Perhaps it wil be hard to figure how a father, on $15,000 a year, can support a wife and two daughters in the manner here demonstrated and still pay income taxes. Perhaps it will be even harder to see how this same gentleman swings the sort of building project that accumulates in this film, along with the problem of commuting every day to an office in New York.

What of it? That's incidental to the momentary pleasure of the laughts to be had from the sweetly anguished spectacle of Cary Grant in this monumental fix. As the gullible New York cliff-dweller who buys a hunk of Connecticut real estate and thereby resigns himself to pirates, Mr. Grant is a humanist's delight. And Myrna Loy is equally disarming as his charmingly whimsical wife who is just as impractical as he is about bathrooms and closet space. Sharyn Moffet and Connie Marshall are joys as their daughters (the healthy beasts!), while Reginald Denny, Ian Wolfe and Harry Shannon are delicious as assorted banditti.

As though there were not sufficient irritations to wreck a home in the book, Norman Panama and Melvin Frank, who wrote the screen play and also produced the film, have tossed in a standard fixture in the person of Melvyn Douglas, an old hand. As a "family friend" and legal adviser, Mr. Douglas is called upon to arouse Mr. Grant's jealous feelings, as well as to needle his pride. But with quick-witted dialogue from the authors and with Director H.C. Potter's smooth restraints, Mr. Douglas becomes a smart addition to a delightfully misleading film.

TIME MAGAZINE Film Review - April 5, 1948
Mr. Blandings Builds His Dream House, like the original bestseller by FORTUNE Editor Eric Hodgins, is a sort of rich man's Egg and I: a comedy natural for all big city dwellers who have ever tried to get back to the land the easy way.  It all starts off with the woes of Adman Jim Blandings (Cary Grant) and wife (Myrna Loy) as they suffer the beginning of an average day in their Manhattan apartment.  Even for a $15,000 income-grouper, the Blandins apartment seems rather spacious (you could encamp a platoon of homeless veterans in the parlor alone); but the closet space is convincingly niggardly, and the bathroom problem is enough to tempt anyone to the wide open spaces.

These deep-city innocents pay a lot too much for a piece of unreal estate in Connecticut - a pleasant-looking, rump-sprung old house which they are wild to patch up and are promptly advised to tear down.  They get a lot of belated advice from their lawyer friend (Melvyn Douglas), and they go into a huddle with an architect (Reginald Denny) who is willing to design practically anything - at a price.  Before their homing instinct comes to roost at last they have been put through the wringer by practically every type of swindler involved in, or parasitic upon, the building trades.  Blandings saves his neglected job by the skin of his teeth; and for a time even his marriage seems to be headed for the rocks. 

Cary Grant, Myrna Loy and Melvyn Douglas have a highly experienced way with this sort of comedy, and Director H.C. Potter is so much at home with it taht he gets additional laughs out of the predatory rustics and even out of the avid gestures of a steam shovel.  Blandings may turn out to be too citified for small-town audiences, and incomprehensible abroad; but among those millions of Americans who have tried to feather a country nest with city greenbacks, it ought to hit the jackpot. 

Click here to read Susanna's review of "Mr. Blandings"

Click here to read Jenny's Crackpot Reviews at the Cary Grant Shrine

Buy the book that inspired the movie!

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