Post #7: A Movie That Makes You Happy
Here’s a fun one. One movie that always makes me happy is Mr. Blandings Builds His Dream House. It’s 1948 and the war is over! Cary Grant, Myrna Loy, and Melvyn Douglas star–what a cast! Cary Grant’s character, Jim Blandings, is in advertising. He and his wife Muriel (Myrna Loy) are going to move out of the city into a house that they’re building in Connecticut so they can have more room for themselves and their terribly bright daughters (read that as maybe too bright for their own good, a popular type in 40s comedies). Things are looking up, people!
Their old friend and lawyer Bill Cole (Melvyn Douglas) hangs around quite a bit. There’s a suggestion that he and Muriel had some kind of relationship in the past, and while they’re now just friends it gives Jim something to worry about. Bill and others try to advise Jim and Muriel against letting their plans for their new home get out of hand, but of course their dreams get the better of them.
The writing is what can rightly be termed “delightful.” Melvyn Douglas as Bill Cole provides voice-over narration to the story. He has such a great warm, funny tone. Yes, Melvyn, tell me a story! Get me in on your joke! I’m all ears. I’ve poured myself a drink! I’m yours! Jim and Muriel are, as Bill tells us, “two little fish from New York–out in the deep deep waters of Connecticut real estate.” They fall in love with a broken-down house, for which they proceed to pay far too much. A number of experts then come in and tell them to tear the house down, which leads to their massive house-building project. We follow along with them through their home’s planning and construction and all of the attendant mishaps–the negotiations over how many bathrooms and closets to build (their architect suggests, “Perhaps what you need is not so much a house, as a series of little bungalows, each with two closets and a private bath”), the tearing down of the old place (on which another person held a mortgage–whoops), the digging of the well, the lintels and the lallys, the closet door that sticks, and the starry-eyed selection of paint colors.
A fun little subplot revolves around an account Jim is working on. He needs to come up with a new ad line for the fictional product WHAM!, which is apparently more or less like SPAM. He’s pulling out his hair over it and coming up with nothing, until finally the family housekeeper, Bessie, busts out with “If you ain’t eaten Wham, you ain’t eatin’ ham!” Speaking of movies I quote, this film is one my sister and I have been quoting since way back in the days when AMC stood for American Movie Classics and when that’s what they actually played.
Happy indeed. As a matter of fact, folks, I am happy to present you with the entire film. Enjoy!