When too many people live in a space too small for too long they’re bound to get sour, or as the Blandings’s youngest says, to bicker, bicker, bicker. Potter’s film opens with striking images of Manhattan – at first, exalting its greatness; then, becoming progressively ironic until the modern, bold, and promising city becomes an oppressive force on the individual not offering much space to live. Literally. The Blandings’s apartment is excruciatingly tiny, and while Mrs. Blandings (Myrna Loy) still thinks about tearing down walls, Mr. Blandings (Cary Grant) and is not willing to spend a single penny on it, anymore.
The Blandings’s chapter begins with their morning routine, one of the best parts of the film. Without saying a word, husband and wife have a little fight over the alarm clock, in a way only a couple who has lived together for many years could, until he resignedly gets up. From here on Mr. Blandings will seriously struggle to shower, shave, get dressed, and have breakfast – his seemingly calm wife gets on the way, and so does his older daughter’s tongue. Here we see Cary Grant excelling at physical comedy, one in which the character doesn’t make a huge fuss about everything, but rather is quietly yet deeply vexed by all the minor annoyances that occur with every single move he makes. The charm of it all is in the slight trace of irritation in Grant’s face and tone, and how he turns every line into a commercial tagline: I am not interested in discussing the grain and texture of Bill Cole’s hair follicles before I’ve had my breakfast.
After spotting an ad for a peaceful house in the countryside, Mr. Blandings decides to move. He and his wife then embark on a journey to build their dream house, and soon they’ll find there’s much more to it than knowing what you want. There will be so much money talk, with actual numbers, that it will make you sick. And no better way to give the audience the same feeling of exasperation that the Blandings felt than making your head spin with bills to pay. It will make you wonder why they don’t give up, get out while all is not lost. Maybe there are some things you should buy with your heart and not with your head. Maybe those are the things that really count.
The above mentioned Bill Cole (Melvyn Douglas) is the lawyer who will help them with the legal procedures involved in the moving – or at least try. You see, one of Mr. Blandings many flaws is that he is easily persuasible – an interesting thing considering he works in advertising. He’s also impulsive, foolish, and lacking of basic cultural knowledge. He’s irritable, jealous and insecure. He’s an original mad man. For once a Cary Grant character I wouldn’t marry, I thought. And near the end of the film I wondered how Mrs. Blandings fell in love with such a man. In the end you’ll have the answer.
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