- May 7, 2001
Mr. Blandings Builds His Dream House
Studio: Warner Brothers
Rated: Not Rated
Film Length: 94 Minutes
Aspect Ratio: 1.37:1 Academy
Audio: DD Monaural
Subtitles: English, French & Spanish
Package: Single disc - Keep Case
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
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.
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.
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
**Special Features rated for the quality of supplements, not the quantity**
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)
Release Date: June 1st, 2004