Sunday, June 28, 2015

The 'House Plan' Scene in "Mr. Blandings Builds His Dream House"

Mr. Blandings Builds His Dream House (1948) is one of my favorite movies, in part due to this scene. I have always enjoyed looking at house plans. When I was younger I would tear them out of magazines and check out house plan books at the library, making copies of my favorite ones. Watching this movie for the first time a few years ago, caused  me to pull them out again.
The premise of the film is, Mr. Blandings, played to perfection by Cary Grant, is in advertising. He lives in an apartment with his perfect wife, played by none other than the perfect Myrna Loy, his two daughters, their bird, and their maid/cook. It's very crowded.
Mr. Blandings, getting sick and tired of living in such a cramped space, purchases a house in Connecticut. However, upon viewing the house, everyone tells him to "Tear it down." Then someone suggests, "Why not look at some floor plans?" Mr. and Mrs. Blandings think this is a marvelous idea.
They visit Mr. Simms, the architect (played by Reginald Denny). He show them a sample plan.

Simms: First floor - living room, dining room, study, kitchen, breakfast room, service porch, maids rooms.
Second floor - three family bedrooms; two with joining baths.
Mrs. Blandings: Don't you think it's a little conventional?
Simms: Of course, this is just a point of departure; you don't have to adhere to any of this.
Then the fun starts.

Grant and Loy get ahold of pens and begin adding on to the "point of departure." The dialogue goes something like this:
If this were my house...
Now, here for instance...
If we could just push this wall a little...
And closets, Mr. Simms, plenty of closets! One thing this family needs is closets.
And bathrooms, Mr. Simms. Each bedroom must have at least one bathroom.

Do you think we could manage a little playroom
in the basement? You know, nothing tremendous...
And I've always wanted a little sewing room, a little utility room
upstairs where I can be alone and sew, or sulk, on a rainy day.
Now, Mr. Simms, about that playroom, not too small you know.
Plenty of room for dodge, ping-pong, nice big poker table...

The result:

Mr. Simms tries to talk some sense into the Blandings, who are still happily drawing rooms for their dream home.

Simms: In the first place, I'm afraid you've got the upstairs
about twice as big as the downstairs.

It's all those bathrooms!

It's all those closets.

Simms tries talking to Mr. Blandings.
Simms: By extending that breakfast room, you've eliminated the possibility of any stairs going up to the second floor.
Blandings: Oh, I've allowed for that. You can put them in behind the pantry.

So he tries Mrs. Blandings.
Simms: Mrs. Blandings, on that sewing room. The way you have it there, the chimney stack would come right up through the middle of the room, leaving you with something in the shape of a square donut, which of course may be very warm in winter, but otherwise a on utility.
Mrs. Blandings: Can't you put the chimney somewhere else?
Ten screen minutes later, they are back for the estimates, which end up being twice as much as they thought.
Mrs. Blandings: But we've only asked for the barest necessities!

Needless to say, after many more (hilarious) problems, the Blandings family finally get their dream house. To see more screenshots of the house and learn some trivia about the film, check out this (and other) amazing post(s) on Hooked on Houses. It's a treasure trove of classic movie houses.

Several "Mr. Blandings" houses, 73 to be exact, were built all over the country to promote the film. Here is an article that ran about one built in Spokane, Washington - the only one that followed the plans exactly.

The floorplan sent out to 100 cities by RKO

Article that appeared in a Portland, Oregon newspaper about one of the open houses. Source.
Click here to view a magazine spread with completed views on the house.

Kellogg's even made a cardboard version of the house!
Also, here is some interesting info on the promotional side of the film. It's the latter half of the post.

Drop in and see us sometime!
This post is part of the "...And Scene!" Blogathon hosted by Sister Celluloid. Be sure and check out all of the other fantastic entries here!

All screenshots by Phyl


  1. Haha, my book review for this is going up tomorrow! It's one of my favorite movies too, I especially love the paint color scene. :D

    1. Hahaha. Great minds think alike :) I was just thinking I need to find the book and read it. I love that scene too. There's so many great scenes...