Once a week on Monday, Uncle Bardie shares a movie with his Readers he gives a big two thumbs up. It will simply be a short excerpt or a trailer. Uncle Bardie might even throw in a reflection on the movie. If so, it will make an appearance below the video. So pop some popcorn and give yourself a treat. This week’s movie is “Mr. Blandings Builds His Dream House” (1948):
It’s America, and it’s the American way that every red-blooded American have their own home. It’s the patriotic thing to do, don’t you think? It is in the Declaration of Independence. You know, that part about a pursuit of happiness being an inalienable right. It’s why we Americans threw all that tea over the side of the ship into Boston Harbor during the Boston Tea Party. It’s in the Constitution too. I know, I know, it’s not easy to find. You have to read the fine print. It’s the reason Thomas Jefferson bought the Louisiana Purchase and sent Lewis and Clark out west. I mean, when you buy all that land, what are you going to do with it? Build houses, of courses.
And it’s the reason we fought the War of 1812. The British wanted to jack up real estate prices. James Madison told Old King George what he could do with that. Of course, that was before the days when Dolly Madison went on “Shark Tank” looking for $50,000 for a ten-percent investment in her business. Little did the Sharks know that her Zingers were going to be the hit of the century. They turned her down. Same as they turned Ruth Handler down too. They weren’t interested in a Barbie that didn’t take on the true shape of the American woman. Talk about pursuit of happiness not going anywhere. Thomas Jefferson and Ben Franklin should have given those Sharks a piece of their mind.
After every event in the history of these United States, we Americans put the bit between our teeth and pursued the American Dream. We bought houses. You’ve heard the saying that a man’s home is in his castle. It seems that there are no castles in the United States, with only a couple of exceptions: Citizen Kane had his Xanadu, Walt Disney had his Cinderella’s Castle. For the rest of us, no castle. That’s why the fella who said that must have been a European. They have castles in Europe. In lieu of a castle, we Americans bought houses. At least, till recently when we got flipped into bankruptcy.
“Mr. Blandings Builds His Dream House” follows a poor schmuck in the late forties. It is a post World War II world that millions of veterans returned to and started to transform America into that bastion of capitalism Ronald Reagan so much believed in. These ex-G.I.s had so much energy they were unstoppable. They had beaten Hitler into a pulp and they were indeed ready to perform miracles. Which they did.
The poor schmuck is Cary Grant and he is an advertising executive. Cary was so good at the job he got to reprise it in “North By Northwest”. He was a Mad Man before anybody ever thought of Mad Men. As a side thought, why is it that a lot of movies, especially comedies, about successful American men have the main character as an advertising executive?
In addition to Cary Grant, here’s a few of the other actors who played advertising executives: Matthew McConaughey (How to Lose a Guy in Ten Days), Steve Martin (Planes, Trains & Automobiles), Adam Sandler (Jack & Jill), Kevin Spacey (American Beauty), Dudley Moore (Crazy People), Fred McMurray (Take a Letter Darling), Tom Hanks (Nothing in Common),Tony Randall (Will Success Spoil Rock Hunter?). I looked for women in this role and couldn’t find any that were the main character. Seems that advertising executive is a role that only men can take on. At least, as far as Hollywood is concerned. Wonder what that says about the advertising game.
Anyway Cary Grant, our hero, decides his New York City apartment is just too too small for his family of four. While Cary plays the out-there character, it’s Myrna Loy who keeps his feet on the ground. Unfortunately her good common sense does not win out when Cary steps into deep doo doo. They head up to Connecticut and find a run-down two-hundred-year-old farmhouse. It’s Revolutionary War era, and it looks like it lost the war to the British. It’s “the Old Hackett Place”, of course. Poor Mr. Blandings. He hasn’t got a prayer.