Mr. Blandings Builds His Dream House

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This article is about the 1948 film. For the 1946 novel, see Mr. Blandings Builds His Dream House (novel).
Mr. Blandings Builds His Dream House
DVD cover
Directed by H. C. Potter
Produced by Dore Schary
Melvin Frank
Norman Panama
Written by Eric Hodgins (novel)
Melvin Frank
Norman Panama (screenplay)
Starring Cary Grant
Myrna Loy
Music by Leigh Harline
Cinematography James Wong Howe
Edited by Harry Marker
Distributed by RKO Radio Pictures
Release dates
  • June 4, 1948 (1948-06-04)
Running time
93 minutes
Country United States
Language English

Mr. Blandings Builds His Dream House (1948) is an American comedy film directed by H. C. Potter and starring Cary Grant and Myrna Loy. The film was written and produced by the team of Melvin Frank and Norman Panama, and was an adaptation of Eric Hodgins' popular 1946 novel, illustrated by Shrek! author William Steig.

The film was a box office hit upon its release, and has remained a popular film[citation needed] through cable television broadcasts and the home video market. Warner Home Video released the film to DVD with restored and remastered audio and video in 2004. In 1986 the novel was adapted for film again for the Tom Hanks, Shelley Long movie The Money Pit, and in 2007 a loose remake of the 1948 film was released under the title Are We Done Yet?[1]

The house built for the 1948 film still stands on the old Fox Ranch property in Malibu Creek State Park in the hills a few miles north of Malibu. It is used as an office for the Park. Coordinates: 34°5′41.4″N 118°42′43.63″W / 34.094833°N 118.7121194°W / 34.094833; -118.7121194


Jim Blandings (Grant), a bright account executive in the advertising business, lives with his wife Muriel (Loy) and two daughters in a cramped New York apartment. Muriel secretly plans to remodel their apartment. After rejecting this idea, Jim Blandings comes across an ad for new homes in Connecticut and they get excited about moving.

Planning to purchase and "fix up" an old home, the couple contact a real estate agent, who uses them to unload "The Old Hackett Place" in fictional Lansdale County, Connecticut. It is a dilapidated, two-hundred-year-old farmhouse. Blandings purchases the property for more than the going rate for land in the area, provoking his friend/lawyer Bill Cole (Douglas) to chastise him for following his heart rather than his head. (Cole narrates the film, smoking a pipe, an apparent nod to the stage manager character in Thornton Wilder's Our Town.)[citation needed]

The old house, dating from the Revolutionary War-era, turns out to be structurally unsound and has to be torn down. The Blandingses hire architect Simms (Reginald Denny) to design and supervise the construction of the new home. From the original purchase to the new house's completion, a long litany of unforeseen troubles and setbacks beset the hapless Blandings and delay their moving-in date.

On top of all this, at work Jim is assigned the task of coming up with a slogan for "WHAM" Brand Ham, an advertising account that has destroyed the careers of previous account executives assigned to it. Jim also suspects that Muriel is cheating on him with Bill Cole after Bill slept at the Blandingses's alone in the house with Muriel one night due to a violent thunderstorm.

With mounting pressure, skyrocketing expenses, and his new assignment, Jim starts to wonder why he wanted to live in the country. The Blandingses's maid Gussie provides Blandings with the perfect WHAM slogan, and he saves his job. As the film ends, Bill Cole says that he realizes that some things "you do buy with your heart."


According to Time magazine, "Cary Grant, Myrna Loy and Melvyn Douglas have a highly experienced way with this sort of comedy, and director H. C. Potter is so much at home with it that he gets additional laughs out of the predatory rustics and even out of the avid gestures of a steam shovel. Blandings may turn out to be too citified for small-town audiences, and incomprehensible abroad; but among those millions of Americans who have tried to feather a country nest with city greenbacks, it ought to hit the jackpot."[2]

The film recorded a loss during its initial theatrical release of $225,000.[3]

Over half a century later, the film placed 72nd on the American Film Institute's 100 Years...100 Laughs list.


Promotional still for film with Cary Grant and Myrna Loy
Actor Role
Cary Grant James Blandings
Myrna Loy Muriel Blandings
Melvyn Douglas William "Bill" Cole
Louise Beavers Gussie
Reginald Denny Henry Simms
Jason Robards, Sr. John Retch
Lex Barker Carpenter Foreman
Connie Marshall Betsy Blandings
Sharyn Moffett Joan Blandings
Ian Wolfe Real Estate Agent Smith
Nestor Paiva Joe Appolonio
Harry Shannon W.D. Tesander
Tito Vuolo Mr. Zucca


As a promotion for the film, the studio built 73 "dream houses" in various locations in the United States, selling some of them by raffle;[4] over 60 of the houses were equipped by General Electric, including the ones in the following cities:[5]

Phoenix, AZ, Little Rock, AR, Bakersfield, CA, Fresno, CA, Oakland, CA, Sacramento, CA, San Diego, CA, San Francisco, CA, Denver, CO, Bridgeport, CT, Hartford, CT, Washington, DC, Atlanta, GA, Chicago, IL, Indianapolis, IN, South Bend, IN, Terre Haute, IN, Des Moines, IA, Louisville, KY, Baltimore, MD, Worcester, MA, Detroit, MI, Grand Rapids, MI, St. Paul, MN, Kansas City, MO, St. Louis, MO, Omaha, NE, Tenafly, NJ, Albuquerque, NM, Albany, NY, Buffalo, NY, Rochester, NY, Syracuse, NY, Tarrytown, NY, Utica, NY, Greensboro, NC, Rocky Mount, NC, Cleveland, OH, Columbus, OH, Toledo, OH, Oklahoma City, OK, Tulsa, OK, Cedar Hills, OR (near Portland),[6] Philadelphia, PA, Pittsburgh, PA, Providence, RI, Chattanooga, TN, Memphis, TN, Nashville, TN, Amarillo, TX, Austin, TX, Austin, TX, Dallas, TX, Fort Worth, TX, Houston, TX, Salt Lake City, UT, Seattle, WA, and Spokane, WA.

Locations included Bakersfield, California; Worcester and East Natick, Massachusetts; Portland, Oregon; and Ottawa Hills, Ohio. Thousands lined up in front of the house in Ottawa Hills, paying admission to view the house at its opening.[4]

In Phoenix, Arizona, the dream house was a ranch house built by P.W. Womack Construction Company in a central city development called BelAir (now part of Encanto Village).[7]

In Rocky Mount, North Carolina, the dream house that was built still stands at 1515 Lafayette Avenue.[8]

Greensboro, North Carolina's dream house was built in the Starmount Forest community.[9]

Related works[edit]

The story behind the film began as an April 1946 article written by Eric Hodgins for Fortune magazine; that article was reprinted in Reader's Digest and (in condensed form[10]) in Life before being published as a novel.[11]

Irene Dunne played his wife Muriel in the October 10, 1949, Lux Radio Theatre broadcast on CBS (running one hour;[12] Grant's wife Betsy Drake played Muriel in the June 9, 1950, broadcast on NBC's Screen Director's Playhouse (a 1/2 hour version).


Are We Done Yet? (a sequel to the 2005 film Are We There Yet?) starring Ice Cube, was released on April 4, 2007.


  1. ^ "Are We Done Yet? (2007)". New York Times. April 4, 2007. Retrieved 2012-10-20. 
  2. ^ "The New Pictures". Time. April 5, 1948. Retrieved 2011-03-19. 
  3. ^ Scott Eyman, Lion of Hollywood: The Life and Legend of Louis B. Mayer, Robson, 2005 p 420
  4. ^ a b "A home made famous in the 1948 mega-hit ‘Mr. Blandings Builds His Dream House’ is in Ottawa Hills". Archived from the original on 2007-09-30. Retrieved 2011-03-19. 
  5. ^ "General Electric has made your Dream House come true! (advertisement)". Life. June 28, 1948. p. 78. ISSN 0024-3019. Retrieved 2011-03-19. 
  6. ^ The Oregonian (January 17, 2012). "Mr. Blandings’ Dream House, 1948". Vintage Portland. Retrieved 2012-11-04. The Portland-area house was built in the Cedar Hills area of Beaverton... on the northwest corner of SW Walker Road and Mayfield Avenue. 
  7. ^ Susie Steckner (August 2008). "Arizona Dreamin’". Phoenix magazine. Retrieved 2011-03-19. 
  8. ^ Nicholas Graham (July 2013). "Mr Blandings Dream House Rocky Mount NC". Digital NC blog. Retrieved 2013-07-19. 
  9. ^ Benjamin Briggs (October 2012). "Secrets of Hamilton Lake". Preservation Greensboro blog. Retrieved 2013-07-19. 
  10. ^ "Mr. Blandings Builds His Castle". Life. April 29, 1946. p. 114ff. ISSN 0024-3019. Retrieved 2011-03-19. 
  11. ^ "Mr. Blandings Goes to Hollywood". Life. April 12, 1948. pp. 111–124. ISSN 0024-3019. Retrieved 2011-03-19. 
  12. ^ "Mr. Blandings Builds His Dream House". radio adaptation. Lux Radio Theater via the Internet Archive. October 10, 1949. Retrieved 2011-03-19. 

External links[edit]