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Daily film recommendation: 'Mr. Blandings Builds His Dream House' (1948)

Airing on TCM Wednesday, September 3 at 10:15 EST

Jim Blandings (Cary Grant), a New York City advertising executive, has grown tired of the cramped apartment he shares with his wife Muriel (Myrna Loy) and two kids. So, Jim decides to buy an old fixer-upper in the Connecticut country. But the 200 year-old-house is so dilapidated that it has to be torn down and rebuilt entirely, and the amount of unseen obstacles to follow make it more trouble than its worth. On top of all that, Jim lands the toughest account at work, and suspects Muriel is cheating on him with his lawyer friend Bill (Melvyn Douglas).

Mr. Blandings Builds His Dream House” is a comedy that is largely funny because it is so relatable. Few people haven’t gone through the process of remodeling their home, or at least understand what’s involved. The H.C. Potter film was actually based on a novel by Eric Hodgins’, which was in turn a retelling of he and his wife’s experiences fixing up their new home. The Hodgins’ real home in Connecticut still stands, and so does the version built for this movie in Malibu.

“Mr, Blandings Builds His Dream House” is filled with funny gags that are carried by Grant, Loy, and Douglas, all of whom were adept at this kind of comedy. Grant and Loy may have been a tad too old to play the young, inexperienced couple, but they are a great duo and they pull it off, Grant and his frantic pacing contrasting with Loy’s coolness beautifully (Irene Dunne, another popular pairing with Grant, was originally sought after for the role of Muriel, but was unable to due to filming for the movie “I Remember Mama”).

The film was a big hit upon its release in 1948, and remains popular among audiences today, likely because of that aforementioned relatability. So long as people keep fixing up their houses, they’ll be able to empathize and perhaps derive some strange comfort from “Mr. Blandings Builds His Dream House”—because really, nothing can be so bad as what poor Cary Grant has to go through, right?

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