Cary Grant is Jim Blandings and Myrna Loy is his wife, Muriel. Along with their two adolescent daughters they live in a cramped Manhattan apartment. Muriel has been secretly planning to remodel the apartment with an architect for an estimated cost of $7,000. When their friend Bill Cole (played by Melvyn Douglas) accidentally spills the beans in front of Jim he becomes outraged at spending so much money to continue living in such an unsuitable place. He yearns to escape Manhattan and own a house out in the wide-open spaces of Connecticut.
The rest of the movie is a cautionary tale for any city dweller who contemplates becoming a rural homeowner. Everything that can go wrong does and the combination of larcenous realtors and contractors and Jim and Muriel’s ignorance about building a house drive them to the edge of bankruptcy, unemployment and divorce.
Cary Grant, Myrna Loy and Melvyn Douglas were three of the best actors Hollywood ever produced for the kind of light comedy this picture represents. And the script writers provided them with plenty of scenes where they could fill out the characters they were playing. Grant is the perfect harried husband. He is constantly outguessed by his wife and hectored by his progressive-school-educated daughters. His boss has given him an impossible assignment at work and every penny he ever saved has gone out the window building this house. Myrna Loy is her usual sparkling self. She is the dutiful wife but there is always a jaundiced eye and very often a sarcastic comment when Jim steers them off a cliff. And Melvyn Douglas is the pessimistic lawyer friend warning them at every turn to abandon this fool’s errand and head back to the city. He also becomes the object of Jim’s jealous suspicions when he always seems to be giving Muriel a kiss on the cheek whenever he leaves. And when his daughters read in their mother’s diary that Muriel had been in love with Bill back in college Jim feels that his suspicions are justified.
This all sounds like a ridiculous movie. And it is. But it also represents a comical take on the experience of millions of Americans who fled the cities for the suburbs after World War II. And the three stars of the film make the whole experience pleasant, funny and warm-hearted. I can highly recommend this movie as an entertaining hour and a half. I especially recommend it for a husband and wife who have bought their first home. They’ll spend half the time nodding their heads in commiseration at the trials and tribulations of the Blandings and the other half laughing.