Transforming problem houses into Dream Homes

Architects In The Movies: Mr. Blandings Builds His Dream House

I like movies with architects in them. No surprise, really. In most cases, it is clear that the writers had no idea what an architect does, or what construction is really like. But the 1948 classic, Mr. Blandings Builds His Dream House, is the exception to that rule. Staring Cary Grant and Myrna Loy, the film tells the tale of a city couple who decide to build their own house in the country.  It is the most accurate movie depiction of a residential architectural project that I can think of.

Talented character actor Reginald Denny plays the architect, Henry Simms. He is dignified and professional throughout the project. The characters around him, like Mr. and Mrs. Blandings, and the builder, however, all show the kind of craziness that strikes at most residential construction projects. Simms manages to keep his cool while all those around him are loosing theirs. It is a trait common to architects who specialize in residential construction.

Myrna Loy looks over Reginald Denny’s shoulder as Carry Grant marks up the architect’s plans. Reginald Denny’s portrayal of the architect Henry Simms is perfect, right down to the bow tie.

The movie is based on a 1946 novel by Eric Hodgins. I can’t help but think that Hodgins must have built his own home, the incidents ring so true to me. From simple design changes that get out of hand, to construction issues that nobody could have anticipated, it is all in this movie. With Cary Grant and Myrna Loy, it’s all played for laughs with a gentle kind of humor not seen in modern movies. But it feels quite real to this dignified and professional architect. The scene of them preparing for the day in their tiny city bathroom is hilarious.

I encourage you to seek out this film and watch it before you start any construction projects. You’ll be entertained, fore warned, and fore armed for what is to come.

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