DVD Review HTF REVIEW: Mr. Blandings Builds His Dream House (RECOMMENDED).

Discussion in 'DVD' started by Herb Kane, May 31, 2004.

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  1. Herb Kane

    Herb Kane Screenwriter

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    [​IMG]

    Mr. Blandings Builds His Dream House





    Studio: Warner Brothers
    Year: 1948
    Rated: Not Rated
    Film Length: 94 Minutes
    Aspect Ratio: 1.37:1 Academy
    Audio: DD Monaural
    Color/B&W: B&W
    Languages: English
    Subtitles: English, French & Spanish
    MSRP: $19.97
    Package: Single disc - Keep Case





    The Feature:
    On June 1st, Warner Brothers will release The Cary Grant Signature Collection to commemorate the legendary actor’s 100th birthday. All of the releases are DVD debuts consisting of Destination Tokyo (1944), The Bachelor And The Bobby-Soxer (1947), My Favorite Wife (1940), Night And Day (1946) and the feature film, originally a joint RKO and David O. Selznick Vanguard Film production, Mr. Blandings Builds His Dream House (1948). The titles can be purchased individually for $19.97 SRP or the entire boxed set can be purchased for $49.92.

    Tired of the hustle and bustle of New York living, Jim Blandings (played by Cary Grant) decides to move his wife, Muriel (played by Myrna Loy) and their two daughters out to the Connecticut countryside. Although the polished advertising executive seems rather astute, he is easy prey for a slick real estate broker who wants to sell him a dilapidated farmhouse that barely remains standing. After discarding the advice of friends and professionals, Jim buys the property but soon realizes that the shack has to be torn down and they decide to replace it with their dream house.

    Even with the help of Jim’s longtime friend and attorney, Bill Cole (played by the hilariously funny Melvyn Douglas) who tries to be the “voice of reason”, Jim doesn’t seem to be willing to heed the advice of experts and that’s where their problems begin. The Blanding’s enter the agreement with a rather conservative budget, however, their project becomes almost catastrophic due to a number of blunders and unforeseen expenses such as drilling for water – then too much water, a closet that seems almost possessed and windows that were manufactured for a gentleman with a similar name in Pennsylvania. Virtually tapped for his last penny, and stressed to the point of almost losing his wife, his best friend and his job, their experiences are almost enough to discourage any sane individual from building their dream home…

    1948 was a turning point for the RKO studio, thought by many to be the beginning of the end. The studio was purchased by Howard Hughes resulting in a flurry of rumors and gossip, necessitating a need for the studio to issue a statement ensuring that everyone’s jobs were safe. However, they weren’t. Studio Head Isadore Schary quit soon after the purchase and Hughes decided to lay off three-quarters of the studios workforce which halted production to a minimum. It was also the same year that RKO’s number one bad boy Robert Mitchum was arrested for marijuana possession which lead to a two month jail sentence. Considered scandalous (for both Mitchum and the studio) at the time, many thought and felt the studio should have released him, smartly, they did not.

    And finally, for those who missed the specs mentioned above, all of these titles come in individual keep cases, without inserts. It would seem as though the studio has turned a corner and is listening to what the consumers have requested. Here’s hoping the trend continues. Thank you Warner Bros..!!

    The Feature: 4/5
    [​IMG][​IMG][​IMG][​IMG]



    Video:
    This is a super looking transfer that is presented in its original AR of 1.37:1 Academy. Black levels were extremely deep, falling just short of near perfect.
    As the picture begins, there are quite a few clips of stock footage showing the hustle and bustle of New York, many of which are in rough and very grainy condition. These are obvious and once the film kicks in, there is quite a contrast.

    Whites were for the most part, clean and stark. There was a decent sense of shadow detail and a grayscale that was equally impressive.

    Image detail was slightly soft throughout the entire film, with occasional instances of sharpness. Overall however, very pleasing. There was a reasonable amount of depth and dimensionality to the picture rendering a nice film-like image. Contrast was a little on the high side but had very little effect on the overall picture.

    There was a minimal amount of fine to moderate film grain throughout the picture which was appropriate. There were occasional instances of dust, debris and dirt that remained but never became intrusive or distracting. Scratches were minimal. Light shimmer was evident but infrequent and thankfully, there were no signs of any compression errors or artifacting etc. There were occasional instances of light speckle.

    Overall, a very nice job.

    Video: 4/5
    [​IMG][​IMG][​IMG][​IMG]



    Audio:
    The soundtrack provided is a Dolby Digital monaural track that does an admirable job of completing the task.

    The track was free of any hiss or other distractions.

    The overall sound of the track was rather natural but never became edgy or shrill. The clarity of dialogue was crystal clear and bold. There was a little more depth to the overall range which was evident during some of the demolition scenes and some of the building scenes – slightly more than I anticipated.

    In this case the track handles the material with ease and without any problems.

    Audio: 3.5/5
    [​IMG][​IMG][​IMG][​IMG]



    Special Features:
    There are three special features located on the disc starting with:
    [*] The House of Tomorrow is a 1949 MGM animated Technicolor short supervised by Tex Avery which unfolds as a tour of the modern house of the future, complete with all the modern day conveniences of the time. The short is narrated by Daws Butler. Wait till you see the separate entrance for “the missus”. And for all you “tired businessmen”, you’ll appreciate the “woman of tomorrow”. Priceless. Duration: 6:50 minutes.
    [*] Next up, from the Audio Vault. The first is a Lux Radio Broadcast from 10/10/1949 which features Cary Grant and Irene Dunne also included is a Screen Directors Playhouse Broadcast with Cary Grant and Betsy Drake, both of which are in great shape, particularly the first broadcast.
    [*] Finally, a Theatrical Trailer Gallery is included which contains trailers for ten of Cary Grant’s films. Those included are:

    - Bringing Up Baby (1938)
    - Gunga Din (1939)
    - My Favorite Wife (1940)
    - The Philadelphia Story (1940)
    - Destination Tokyo (1943)
    - Arsenic And Old Lace (1944)
    - Night And Day (1946)
    - The Bachelor And The Bobby-Soxer (1947)
    - Mr. Blandings Builds His Dream House (1948)
    - North By Northwest (1959)

    All of these are in pretty respectable condition. As I’ve said in the past, I’m really a huge fan of theatrical trailers, so needless to say I love these clusters.

    Special Features: 3.5/5
    [​IMG][​IMG][​IMG][​IMG]

    **Special Features rated for the quality of supplements, not the quantity**



    Final Thoughts:
    Mr. Blandings Builds His Dream House is a delightful comedy that has Cary Grant in top form. Rarely does he need anyone to complement his dry sarcastic wit or his sharp witted quips, bit in this case, his co star Melvyn Douglas, stays with him every step of the way. It’s one of those performances where Douglas doesn’t have a lot to say, but when he does, he is hilariously funny. Based on the 1942 film, George Washington Slept Here, and undoubtedly the inspiration for the 1986 remake, The Money Pit, this is Grant at his very best with costar Myrna Loy as his dutiful and loving wife.

    Although this disc is available separately, if you are interested in any of the other Grant films, purchasing the boxed set seems to make the most sense economically. Once again, WB has delivered with a stellar presentation of this classic film and they’ve offered up a few interesting special features to complement it.

    Overall Rating: 4/5 (not an average)
    [​IMG][​IMG][​IMG][​IMG]

    Recommended..!!




    Release Date: June 1st, 2004
     
  2. richardWI

    richardWI Second Unit

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    Great review, thanks. For me this is what Robert Harris would call a no-brainer purchase. I've been waiting years for this on DVD. If only we had a decent "His Girl Friday" on dvd.
     
  3. obscurelabel

    obscurelabel Stunt Coordinator

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    Anyone who has ever had to deal with a project that was over budget and past due should watch this, not only to comiserate but as a cautionary tale. The fact that it is very funny is a big plus in addition to its instructional value [​IMG]



    ???

    The version from Columbia Classics was well reviewed here:

    Review

    Unless it's out of print ... there's a listing for it here:

    Link to e-tailer

    As a public domain title, anyone who can get their hands on a print can issue this, but the Columbia Classics seems to be the one to get (assuming it's in print of course).
     
  4. Robert Crawford

    Robert Crawford Moderator
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    The dvd I have of this film is one of my favorite dvd presentations that I have in my collection.
     
  5. george kaplan

    george kaplan Executive Producer

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    I'll definitely be getting this, and it is the Grant film I'm most looking forward to in this new collection. I know I probably like this film better than most others, since I was disappointed to see this dvd recommended (instead of highly recommended). [​IMG]
     
  6. Robert Crawford

    Robert Crawford Moderator
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    For Cary Grant fans, Turner Classic Movies is showing a new documentary about Cary Grant on June 1st @ 8:00 p.m. ET. The name of the documentary is Cary Grant: A Class Apart and it looks like it's about 90 minutes long.






    Crawdaddy
     
  7. Larry Sutliff

    Larry Sutliff Cinematographer

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    Great review, Herb!

    One of the funniest movies ever made, I can't wait to get a copy(and retire my old Nostalgia Merchant videocassette).
     
  8. Steve...O

    Steve...O Producer

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    Yes, indeed. TCM is making Mr. Grant their star of the month showing something like 27 of his movies in June (Tuesday nights).

    Herb, you continue to write excellent reviews. Thank you for all of your hard work in this regard. I don't expect reviews for the other titles in this collection, but did you get screeners for those? If so, did you have a chance to scan them to see if the picture quality was comparable to this release?

    Those who haven't seen this movie are in for a real treat. It is laugh out loud funny.

    Steve
     
  9. richardWI

    richardWI Second Unit

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    Really? My DVD looks like a Madacy. Really ugly transfer. Halfway through it, the tracking on the tape starts cutting out the audio every 10 seconds for last half of the movie. I didn't know better copies exist. Will look around. Thanks!
     
  10. Herb Kane

    Herb Kane Screenwriter

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    Richard... check your version. I believe His Girl Friday has fallen into the public domain and there are a dozen versions of it available. Originally a Columbia production, they released it under their "Columbia Classics" banner a few years back which is a solid presentation - more expensive, but worth it.

    Herb.
     
  11. DaViD Boulet

    DaViD Boulet Lead Actor

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    Herb,

    Great review...I LOVE this movie.

    "Did you get that? Yeah...red, green, yellow, blue."

    Kills me every time (the painters).


    Does this mean that the transfer is slightly letterboxed in the 1.33:1 frame?
     
  12. Herb Kane

    Herb Kane Screenwriter

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    Minutely Dave - and depending on one's overscan...

    If you ain't eatin' Wham, you ain't eatin' ham.
     
  13. Deepak Shenoy

    Deepak Shenoy Supporting Actor

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    These TCM documentaries usually make their way into Warner DVDs and so I hope that Warner includes this documentary as an extra on a future major Cary Grant release (Bringing Up Baby ?).

    -D
     
  14. Roger Rollins

    Roger Rollins Supporting Actor

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    Warner showed the new film at Cannes this year. It was announced at the festival that the docu is being released overseas this week, and will be released in the U.S. early next year with "a major Cary Grant classic". It's gotta be either BABY or GUNGA DIN.

    The new Grant docu was excellent, by the way. A quantum leap better than those cookie-cutter trailer fests we are usually subjected to by A&E or AMC.
     
  15. Tim Glover

    Tim Glover Lead Actor

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    Great review Herb! I'm all over these. My favorite Cary Grant comedy is The Bachelor & The Bobby-Soxer... Can't wait to own these. [​IMG]
     
  16. Kajs

    Kajs Second Unit

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    It's unbelievable how cheap that box set is! $34.16 @ DDD for 5 DVDs? If you want just 2 of the 5 it's pretty much worth it to buy the set of 5.
     
  17. Dome Vongvises

    Dome Vongvises Lead Actor

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    It sounds like a good blind buy.
     
  18. Nelson Au

    Nelson Au Executive Producer

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    I'm surprised by the lack of enthusiasm for this release![​IMG] I thought there were a lot fans here of this film.

    I have not had time to sit and watch Mr. Blandings, but I did take a moment to compare this new DVD with the Image Laserdisc. I was lucky to find a pristine copy of this LD about 8 years ago and paid dearly for it! For the most part, the LD didn't look that bad on my 32" monitor. In comparing to the new DVD, the main difference I see is the improved contrast and black levels and of course sharpness. This is evidenced by the city scape shots during the opening of the film.

    Another surprise is the framing. Both discs are full frame presentations of course, but during the opening credits, a series of blueprints is used to roll the credits, the old LD is framed much closer then the DVD. More of the blueprint is visable, extending out to the edges on the DVD. By a very quick examination of the first sequence when Loy and Grant are trying to wake up, it's not as clear if the frame that different, the shot of Grant in the closet is slightly different too. This is all minutia I'm noticing. The DVD looks great! I'll make time tonight to watch!

    Nelson
     
  19. Larry Sutliff

    Larry Sutliff Cinematographer

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    I watched this last night, and really enjoyed it. The film holds up remarkably well and is still as amusing as ever. The transfer itself looks very nice; not as perfect as some of the Warners DVD's, but still sharp and filmlike. And I also enjoyed the extra Tex Avery cartoon THE HOUSE OF TOMORROW.
    The trailers were also great, and I was glad to see a GUNGA DIN trailer. Hopefully this film will be made available on DVD soon, one of the greatest adventure films of all time.
     
  20. John Hodson

    John Hodson Producer

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    Though the R2 equivalent of the Warners Cary Grant box set is pretty poor in comparison (see here) it does include Cary Grant: A Class Apartwhich is described thus:

    Cary Grant A Class Apart will be available as a bonus feature in the box set. Written and directed by Robert Trachtenberg who has previously produced documentaries on Gene Kelly and George Cuckor.

    An all-new comprehensive and provocative look at Cary Grant's life and career. A Class Apart pays tribute to the working class Englishman who became "a democratic symbol of gentlemanly grace" to moviegoers worldwide. Aptly subtitled A Class Apart, the documentary sympathetically depicts Archie Leach-born into poverty, his mother committed to an asylum when he was nine-reinventing himself as Cary Grant, whose debonair screen persona showed no signs of these difficult origins.

    Narrated by Helen Mirren, it features interviews with Grant's co-stars including Deborah Kerr, Dina Merrill, Martin Landau, Eva Marie Saint, Samantha Eggar, as well as professional collaborators like writer Sidney Sheldon, and writer/director Melville Shavelson. Also interviewed are Grant's third wife, actress Betsy Drake, and his fifth wife (and widow) Barbara Grant. Extensive film clips are featured from Grant's 35 year film career including excerpts from such films as Bringing Up Baby, Monkey Business, North By Northwest, Charade, An Affair to Remember, Gunga Din, Holiday, Only Angles Have Wings, Houseboat, To Catch a Thief, and many more.


    Fingers crossed for a future release on an R1 disc. BTW, nice review Herb - Grant is one of my favourite light comedians, and there are fewer better examples than this film.

    ---
    So many films, so little time...
     

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