Mr. Blandings Builds His Dream House (1948)

The pursuit of the perception of greater prestige is one that encompasses Western society’s identity. The quest, attainment, and dissolution of achievement creates an inner restlessness to strive towards higher prosperity without appreciating and smelling the roses. This eventual dissatisfaction inevitably leads to risk-taking, with disastrous and/or meaningful results.  In H.C. Potter’s 1948 classic screwball “Mr. Blandings Builds His Dream House”, the commonplace and relatable journey from leasing to owning and then renovating a home is the focus. Disillusionment of the idyllic country life is eye-opening to the tired yet wide-eyed urban dwellers in the film.

Jim Blandings (Cary Grant) is an advertising executive and family man who has just been assigned to the doomed ham/WHAM campaign, much to his displeasure. He is also frustrated with the tiny square footage and lack of closet space in the New York apartment which he shares with his wife Muriel (Myrna Loy) and daughters (Connie Marshall and Sharyn Moffett). Much to the dismay of his lawyer “best friend” Bill Cole (Melvyn Douglas), the Blandings are deceptively swindled and decide to buy a somewhat dilapidated home that has been erect since the Revolutionary War. This purchase obviously and inevitably does not come without challenges. The multitude of foundational issues with the “new home”, the Blandings’ sometimes varying opinions on construction and blue printing, writer’s block regarding the ham-like WHAM, as well as finance and jealousy all collide to create calamity in classic screwball style.

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Becoming a home owner has become a pinnacle of success in our current landscape. It signifies that an individual or family appears to be financially stable and at ease in their lives, prepared to take on this rewarding challenge. Owning a home also signifies autonomy and independence, and undertaking renovations can be an extension of one’s creativity. If the owners are in a relationship, this whole process can also be a test of strength, endurance, and compromise in their unity. It is the hope of all involved that the “ultimate dream home” helps to create actualization and a future of stability and fulfillment.

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I do not own any of the photos in this post. As well, this post is part of the Favourite Film and TV Homes Blogathon hosted by Phyllis Loves Classic Movies and Love Letters to Old Hollywood! Please visit their sites between May 5 – 7, 2017 to check out many great posts regarding this wonderful topic!

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His Girl Friday (1940)

“Work-life balance” is frequently a term that emerges within many employment agencies, encouraging workers to cultivate a life full of activities that actualize their dreams. Many individuals find it difficult to distinctly separate these two ideas, with their work evolving into their identity. This progression intensifies as title, prestige, and greed expand, filtering into employees with the dream of a promotion. “His Girl Friday” is an extremely witty screwball comedy from 1940 directed by Howard Hawks, exploring this particular idea and others in a highly cynical fashion.

Walter Burns, played by the always suave Cary Grant, is the editor of the hard-hitting newspaper, “The Morning Post”. Burns’ ex-wife and former reporter of the same newspaper, Hildy Johnson (Rosalind Russell), announces her engagement to insurance agent Bruce Baldwin (Ralph Bellamy) on the same day that a massive story is to break. This involves Earl Williams (John Qualen), a soft-spoken man who shot and killed a police officer, and is to be executed for political gain. Hildy is propelled to become Burns’ “girl Friday”, heavily assisting him to reveal all facets of this story in a most timely fashion. This role may compromise her newly cultivated identity as a former reporter and future wife. It is to be noted that the screenplay delivery through rapid dialogue and intelligent repartee not only further defines the screwball genre, but creates an atmosphere of intensity that mirrors the urgency of a newspaper obtaining information for dispersion.

While 92 minutes in length, this film addresses and satirizes a wide variety of sociopolitical topics. Political corruption, betrayal, and manipulation are used by various characters, especially Burns, to achieve personal and/or professional gain at others’ expense. The callous elements of human nature emerge through a myriad of press members when discussing the current object of their writing affection, Williams. Humanity becomes isolated from their insensitive reporting styles, protecting them from any sentiments that may skew objectivity of reporting or more often embellishment. Sexism is another theme investigated, as many exploit Hildy’s emotions, future, and talents to serve their career-oriented needs. Exteriorly a comedy, this film paints a dark light on the disrespect that can be conveyed towards fellow man in the pursuit of power.

 

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I do not own the above image.