Mr. Blandings Builds His Dream House

At the Brattle

Back in the days just after the war when there was a big housing boom from which a few people made a lot of money, Mr. Blandings Builds His Dream House was probably pretty funny.

Mr. Blandings is cramped up in a New York apartment with his menagerie: wife, three kids, maid, canary, and no closet space. Old Connecticut farmhouses, he finds, do have closet space. He gets out. When his old Connecticut farmhouse turns out to be unsafe he builds another, at tremendous cost.

The history of this recurrent American dream is unrolled with an unerring sense for drawing every last bit of humor from the situation. There are a few sub-happenings, like Blandings' professional struggle--he has to invent a new slogan for Wham Ham, Inc. There is also his wife's old but incipient romance with their old lawyer friend Bill Cole. But most of the action plods around the single spectre of Blandings getting fleeced.

As Mr. Blandings, Carey Grant spends most of his time looking dire, and he is an old hand at it. Few actors, probably, have gotten as many laughs out of standing in front of a mirror and trying to shave. Myrna Loy, as his wife, Muriel Blandings, and Melvyn Douglas, the old lawyer friend, are also old hands. Under such sure guidance, the movie grinds itself out at the Blandings bathroom mirror or in front of the Blandings building site.

If the humor of the feature is pretty laborious, there are some funny shorts on the bill. In one of them Robert Benchley says funny things about sleeping; and another, Christopher Crumpet's Playmate, has a happy ending. Two are Mr. Magoo. Through two of his wildest endings Magoo remains imperturbable.