Mr. Blandings Builds His Dream House

by hookedonhouses on November 15, 2009

Mr. Blandings Builds His Dream House

I’ve always been crazy about old movies. When I was growing up, my mom and I used to watch them together on Saturday afternoons. To this day I’ll stop to watch anything with Cary Grant in it. And I can never resist a story that revolves around a house! So it makes sense that Mr. Blandings Builds His Dream House would be one of my all-time favorites.

side-of-house-with-windows

The story starts in New York City, where the Blandings (Cary Grant and the fabulous Myrna Loy) live with their children in a small apartment:

apartment-ext

Mr. and Mrs. Blandings sleep in twin beds in the small master bedroom.

apartment-master-bedrm

apartment-master-bedrm-2

The dining room is so cramped there’s hardly room for both his daughter’s birdcage and the maid!

apartment-dining-rm

So they go looking for a bigger place in the country. Jim Blandings earns a good living as an advertising exec, we’re told–a whopping $15,000 a year! I ran across an old review of the film from when it came out in 1948 that said:

“It’s hard to feel sorry for a man trying to make ends meet on $15,000 a year when most people earn considerably less.”

This is the first place they see, known to the locals as the old Hackett place:

original-house-on-property

The real estate agent knows a couple of suckers when he sees them. He tells them a story about how the house is an historical landmark because General Gates stopped to water his horses here during the Revolutionary War.

This is how Mrs. Blandings imagines fixing it up:

how-mrs-b-imagines-it

And how Mr. Blandings envisions it:

how-mr-b-imagines-it

Their imaginations are so good that they buy the old Hackett place, only to discover that it’s a tear-down. It can’t be saved. (And that’s only the beginning of their troubles!)

They decide to build on the land instead, but the plans from the architect end up being much more than expected. The new house, he says, will cost $12,500 to build. Jim and Muriel are in shock. How could it possibly cost that much? They already spent $13,000 just on the lot and tearing down the old house.

The architect shows them the rendering of how it will look when it’s finished and the music swells. The Blandings decide to bite the bullet and build it despite the soaring costs.

architects-drawing-of-house

A real house was built for the film. According to CaryGrant.net:

In 1948, RKO Studios needed a rural setting in which to film exteriors for their comedy “Mr. Blandings Builds His Dream House.” Their neighboring studio, 20th Century Fox, had 2,000 acres of dramatic landscape in the Malibu hills that served as their location ranch, so a deal was made and construction began.

construction-begins

Despite all of the problems, the headaches, the mixups, and the soaring costs, the house is finished and moving day finally arrives:

moving-day-exterior

Jim carries Muriel over the threshold:

over-the-threshold

And right across the wet varnish on the hardwood floors.

wet varnish

“Oh, Daddy! Look at this!”

side-of-house-no-windows

The windows on the side of the house aren’t in yet! It’s gonna be a chilly night in the new house. . .

new-master-first-night

One of my favorite scenes is when Mrs. Blandings gives instructions to the painter on moving day, patiently explaining:

“First, the living room. I want it to be a soft green. Not as blue-green as a robin’s egg, but not as yellow-green as daffodils. Now, the dining room. Not just yellow–something bright and sunshiny. If you send one of your workers to the grocer for a pound of butter and match that, they can’t go wrong.” Etc, etc., with detailed descriptions of each room’s color.

As soon as she leaves the room, the painter turns to the guy next to him and asks, “Got that, Charlie?”

“Uh-huh,” he says. “Red, green, yellow, blue, and white.”

front-door-foyer

front-door

inside-the-front-door

stairs

We get a glimpse of the dining room, but we never see the kitchen:

dining room

The living room:

mrs-b-and-bill-cole-fire

living room

living rm 2

Just as Jim is about to give up on ever coming up with a promotional strategy for WHAM (it’s a Whale of a Ham!), his housekeeper Gussie (Louise Beavers, who also played Mamie in Holiday Inn with Bing Crosby–another favorite of mine!) saves the day. When Jim asks for HAM for breakfast instead of WHAM, Gussie says:

wham

So he keeps his job, he keeps his house, and everybody’s happy.

side of house-garden

In the final scene we see him holding the book he has published about his adventures in house building:

cary-grant-holds-book

Here’s the real book, written by the real Mr. Blandings–Eric Hodgins. He based the story on his own trials and tribulations with a house he built. The actual house built by Hodgins still stands in the town of New Milford, Connecticut. It sold in August 2004 for $1.2 million.

According to an article in the Washington Post, Hodgins and his wife began construction in the classic New England small town in 1939, anticipating a budget of $11,000. It ultimately cost $56,000 to finish and nearly drove him into bankruptcy.

After living in their dream house for only 2 years, they were forced to sell and downsize. (Isn’t that sad?)

eric-hodgins-photo

Mr. Blandings Builds His Dream House, Hodgins said, “wrote itself.” It was published in 1946 and was immediately a bestseller. He made $200,000 on the movie rights alone, and the film was a hit. Hodgins wrote a sequel called Blandings Way, published in 1950.

As a promotion for the film, 73 full-scale replicas of the house were built in various locations in the US and raffled off. Here’s one such house in Fresno, California (via the Providence Journal), as it looks today.

Patricia Shackelford (aka Mrs. Blandings, who named her popular blog after Myrna Loy’s character in the movie) wrote an interesting post about it and the movie promotions here.

The house from the film is still standing. In 1974, Fox sold the ranch to the state of California. The land is now part of Malibu Creek State Park, and the house is used for the administrative offices for park employees. Here’s how it looks today:

realblandingshouse2009-malibu-carygrantdotnet

But maybe it’s best to remember it as it was. . .

blandings-dream-house-exterior

Visit my Houses Onscreen page to see more favorites, including…

Bringing Up Baby-Susan's house

Katharine Hepburn’s Country House in Bringing Up Baby


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Mrs. Blandings November 15, 2009 at 9:09 pm

A great post – loving all the images from the movie. I do think I’d prefer to think of the house in its original state. Thanks so much for the link.
.-= Mrs. Blandings´s last blog ..Plaza Prize =-.

Cristan November 15, 2009 at 10:31 pm

Oh thanks! I just discovered your site – this is one of my all time favorites and I also LOVE the paint color quote! I think we had similar tv childhoods!

Pat November 15, 2009 at 10:46 pm

This is one of the few movies I had to buy for myself! It’s my all time favorite, and the paint color quote makes me laugh every time I hear it. My daughters and I always use it when we describe a paint color we’re looking for!
What a perfect pairing in Cary Grant and Myrna Loy. It couldn’t be more perfect.
This house is one of those dream houses to me…the entire country setting and all.
Yes, this house really stuck my heart strings..loved it!

Shelia November 15, 2009 at 10:59 pm

Oh, this is one of my favorite movies too! I love this! They don’t make movies like they used to. Isn’t that something knowing it was a real house built for the movie! Poor little thing today! Very sad.
Oh, I took the what movie star are you test last year and I was Myrna Loy! :)
Be a sweetie,
Shelia ;)
.-= Shelia´s last blog ..Autmun on the Island and a Makeover =-.

Bob Schulenberg November 15, 2009 at 11:05 pm

The previous owner of Blandings Way was the author/biographer, Anne Edwards.

Edwina November 15, 2009 at 11:13 pm

Great post!! Can’t help wondering if you’ve discovered the British TV show, Grand Designs? It’s in its 1oth year now and each episode features a different person/couple/family building their own dream home.
VERY addictive viewing!

Nancy November 15, 2009 at 11:19 pm

I love this movie, too and remember watching with my Mom-love all Cary Grant (Penny Serenade-boohoo)…But this one was so sweet and my fav scene is the paint! Thanks for posting!
~Nancy
.-= Nancy ´s last blog ..Frugalicious Friday Finds IKEA! =-.

Mary Frances November 16, 2009 at 12:10 am

I grew up looking forward to seeing this on the afternoon matinee! And yes, the paint quote scene cracked me up the first time and every time since then…Myrna Loy was only a better wife to Dick Powell as Nick Charles…what a great catch in Cary Grant…too bad we all can’t have a little bit of movie magic resolve our remodeling woes!!
Mary Frances

Susan November 16, 2009 at 12:49 am

Hi Julia,
Wow…liked the house much better in the movie…it’s kind of ugly today. :-(
I need to rent this one…never saw it. Thanks for sharing the part with the painters…that was funny!
.-= Susan´s last blog ..Welcome to the 44th Metamorphosis Monday and the Perfect Gift, Give-a-Way! =-.

Shannon November 16, 2009 at 1:01 am

I adore this classic film. Aside from elegant Cary Grant and Myrna Loy just being themselves, I’ve always been drawn to the story. And before long, I’ll be moving from the city to the country, so it has even more significance. Thanks for posting this.
.-= Shannon´s last blog ..Objects Reborn: Old Things, New Uses =-.

pve November 16, 2009 at 1:29 am

Wonderful! We are going to be adding on to our dream home. I must watch this again.
Love Mrs.Blandings too.
pve

Julie M. November 16, 2009 at 1:58 am

I’ll take that hutch, the grandfather’s clock, the fireplace…and Cary Grant. Thank you.

: )

Julie M.

ps How wonderful that Mr. Blanding’s dream houses are still standing..but pretty gross what they’ve done with the original set. Ugh! Wouldn’t taking it back to its original charm be something good for California?
.-= Julie M.´s last blog ..Think Pink! =-.

Ryan November 16, 2009 at 3:00 am

Another great post! I’ve always felt that Mr. Blandings was the ultimate “house movie.” I watch it over and over and over again, and I agree with others about what they’ve recently done to the actual house used in the movie. Hideous! Which genius came up with that fugly two-tone brown color scheme, I wonder?

In a timely coincidence, A couple weeks ago I happened to catch some deliberately campy sci-fi movie, from the 1980s, called Strange Invaders (or something like that) about this kid who witnesses an alien spaceship landing behind his house one night and how nobody but his teacher would believe what he was saying about the aliens taking over the local people’s minds. It starred Karen Black (and her young son), Timothy Bottoms, Louise Fletcher and Lorraine Newman (sp?) from SNL. Anyway, I could swear that the kid’s house in that aliens movie was the exact same house used in Mr. Blandings. If it was not actually the same building but instead just one of the replica homes mentioned in this post, then I’d say it was a much, Much, MUCH more faithful replica of the Blandings house than any of the other copycats I’ve seen. To me the houses in these two movies are virtually identical, and I’ve recently been trying (with no success) to find out whether I’m right about my suspicions.

Hmmmph!

Ryan November 16, 2009 at 3:26 am

LOL Oops, I posted too soon! Just now I tried googling it again and finally found what I was looking for…apparently I had the movie’s name wrong. It was actually called “Invaders From Mars,” and according to imdb’s trivia page, that movie was indeed filmed at the very same location where “Mr. Blandings” was filmed. Whew, I feel slightly less crazy now:-)

Susan Drummond November 16, 2009 at 5:29 am

This is one of my all-time favorite movies! And the line you quoted with the painters had me laughing…love that one! Cary Grant and Myrna Loy were perfect together. Thanks for the tour.
.-= Susan Drummond´s last blog ..It started last year =-.

Linda in AZ * November 16, 2009 at 7:57 am

* I’ve just GOT to see this delightful movie again, even if I didn’t love houses OR the movie that much… (Just to see “MY CARY” would bring the bigggggest smile to my heart right now!!! And MYRNA was ALWAYS just fabulous, too!)~~~

Many thanks,
Linda in AZ *

susan November 16, 2009 at 8:00 am

Julia-I think this might be my favorite Monday post ever–and I haven’t seen the movie. I don’t know how it has escaped me, but I will remedy that soon! I especially love the paint color descriptions and the Washinton Post article. I think I may try to find the book first. Wonder what his laxative slogan was ? :) Thanks–I love Mondays!
.-= susan´s last blog ..Metamophosis Monday…New Look for the Nook =-.

Jeannine @ Small & Chic November 16, 2009 at 8:49 am

When I got into classic movies in college, this is one of the films I absolutely loved! Thank you so much for this post. I vividly remember the scene about the paint colors. What a riot!
.-= Jeannine @ Small & Chic´s last blog ..Why sew when you can iron? =-.

SueLovesCherries November 16, 2009 at 8:58 am

I don’t think I’ve ever seen this one. Can you imagine living in a cramped little apartment . . . and still having a maid! Don’t I wish! Very nice house, I like her imagination sketch of it best.
.-= SueLovesCherries´s last blog ..CAT-CAPADES =-.

black eyed susans kitchen November 16, 2009 at 9:29 am

This has been a favorite movie for…well…ever! I love the part where she is describing the color of paints she wants to the painter..hilarious.
Susan
.-= black eyed susans kitchen´s last blog ..BIG FURNITURE…BIG RE-ARRANGEMENT…BIG PAYOFF =-.

Jamie November 16, 2009 at 9:31 am

I loved reading this post! This is one of my absolute favorite movies. I’ve watched too many times to count as well! I love that this movie still holds true today. Even though it was filmed in the 40′s all of the issues that come up when building a home are the same today. Budgets, contractors, decorating, etc.
I think you are right though, it is better to remember the house as what it was in the movie as opposed to how it looks today! Yikes!
.-= Jamie´s last blog ..Thankful Tree =-.

Jackie W. November 16, 2009 at 9:50 am

Everything with the park service is brown. Even their uniforms.

Amy November 16, 2009 at 9:56 am

I’ve actually seen part of this movie. It was on TV and I’m not sure why I didn’t finish watching it since I loooove Cary Grant, old movies and Louise Beavers. I love the old house and will definitely remember it the way it was. The real Mr. Blandings story is so sad but I’m glad that it worked out for him in the end…and that Cary Grant played the part.
.-= Amy´s last blog ..My Birthday in Pictures =-.

Bonnie November 16, 2009 at 9:57 am

Julia,
You picked out my favorite “house” movie of all time. I also liked the remake with Tom Hanks and Shelly Long (The Money Pit). Try that one.
.-= Bonnie´s last blog ..More Flowers =-.

hookedonhouses November 16, 2009 at 10:05 am

Bonnie–
I actually watched “Money Pit” intending to do a post about it, but at the end they only show the front two rooms’ remodels and it hardly seemed like enough to write about. Maybe I will anyway, though. I get a lot of requests for it! -Julia :-)

ClassiclyAmber November 16, 2009 at 10:08 am

I just love that movie so much, too!! I think it’s cool how you went into so much detail about it here for those who have never seen it. YES – the paint color scene was a fav of mine, also!! +-D

And how SAD the house looks today! :-( You’d think they would have done more to try and keep it charming.

Great post! I love it!

Becky @ Farmgirl Paints November 16, 2009 at 10:47 am

I’ve never even heard of this movie. I’ll need to check it out. Thanks for sharing. You did an amazing job as always:)
.-= Becky @ Farmgirl Paints´s last blog ..Down to Business =-.

Charis November 16, 2009 at 11:08 am

We saw this movie for the first time when we bought our fixer-upper 7 years ago. A great way to start a big house project! Keeps things in perspective. My favorite scene is about the paint colors, too!

Christi at A Southern Life November 16, 2009 at 11:26 am

I loved that movie too and really anything with Cary Grant. My favorite part was the closet that they kept getting locked in.

Christi @ A Southern Life
.-= Christi at A Southern Life´s last blog ..Southern Table =-.

Richella at Imparting Grace November 16, 2009 at 2:13 pm

Oh, Julia, this is one of my favorite movies, too! Nice to know there are fellow Cary Grant lovers out there. And the paint color scene is absolutely my favorite of the whole movie, followed by the scene in the bathroom in the Manhattan bathroom. I can just see Myrna Loy’s hand sticking out over the top of the shower curtain. Thanks for this reminder! I’m smiling as I type!
.-= Richella at Imparting Grace´s last blog ..A transformation and A GIVEAWAY! =-.

marieDee November 16, 2009 at 2:19 pm

Thrilled to see this wonderful old movie featured on your site! Thanks for including the back story that I had not heard before.

Amanda @ Serenity Now November 16, 2009 at 3:02 pm

OMG!! Thank you for posting this. :) I love old movies and I haven’t seen this one. I recognized “Mamie” from that first photo. LOVE Holiday Inn. :) This looks like a fun movie.
.-= Amanda @ Serenity Now´s last blog ..DIY: Throw a Girlfriends’ Thanksgiving Brunch (with the Kids) =-.

Kay November 16, 2009 at 3:23 pm

Oh, I love, love, love this movie! So nice to see there are other fans out there!! They were great together. I really wish I could find someone to watch it with me who would “get into it” like I do as my husband fell asleep and my kids don’t like black and white movies.

Jane November 16, 2009 at 3:33 pm

Thank you. This is one of my favorite books and films. Myrna and Cary, it
doesn’t get better than that.

Nice research on the all the pics and info.

Bravo!
.-= Jane´s last blog ..New York Pier Antique Show is Tomorrow =-.

Liz@VioletPosy November 16, 2009 at 4:12 pm

Never seen that movie, but the houses are gorgeous! Great post :)
.-= Liz@VioletPosy´s last blog ..How the Feature Wall turned out =-.

Rosa November 16, 2009 at 4:16 pm

I loved this movie! Thanks for the post. I wish they would’ve kept it to the original look. It sure looks cheerier.

Jocelyn Stott November 16, 2009 at 4:29 pm

I LOVE this movie – always have, always will. In fact, one of those raffled off homes is right down the street from where I live. Every time I drive by it, I think of the film. So fun. Loved this post.
.-= Jocelyn Stott´s last blog ..And…They’re Off! =-.

Kim November 16, 2009 at 4:56 pm

I watched this movie on youtube and really enjoyed it. I wish they still made movies like these today. They use to make cute movies in the 90′s, but then the 2000′s rolled around and they’ve stopped.

I love the house, it’s warm and inviting. Too bad it doesn’t look the same today. It wouldn’t take much for the house to look same. All it would need was some paint and shutters.

Jan November 16, 2009 at 5:25 pm

Another one here who hold this movie in very high esteem! Characters, storyline and of the sets are all brillant! Just wish that Hollywood would do an update that stayed faithful to the premise of the original book and movie! BTW — I believe that the paint scene (available on YouTube) should be required watching for all those known as interior designers or decorators! The other brillant scene — when Mrs. Blandings has a local New York designer do a makeover drawing for their tiny apartment. Also the scenes where the Blandings try to pencil in changes on the blueprints at the architects — another classic (and time-tested to be true) scene! Myrna Loy is such a brillant actress — and even better in The Thin Man series (which has wonderful settings too!)

Cheers! Jan at Rosemary Cottage

Laura @ the shore house November 16, 2009 at 7:08 pm

I don’t believe I’ve ever seen the poster for that movie! I love it. I haven’t seen this movie in years and it would be great to revisit now that we’re homeowners…especially since I think I might have, sort of given that same speech about living room color without even realizing it. ;-) This movie would actually make a great stocking stuffer for the mister…so thanks for the idea!
.-= Laura @ the shore house´s last blog ..Wrapping up the week. And my laptop. =-.

Michele November 16, 2009 at 7:16 pm

Mr. Blandings builds his dream house is one of my favorite movies then again like you anything with Cary Grant is thumbs up in my book.
.-= Michele´s last blog ..Happy Hour Dinner, Again? =-.

Bethany November 16, 2009 at 7:20 pm

I rented the movie after reading Patricia’s blog. We were in the middle of gutting our home and I thought it was so funny and a little bit sad. I guess some things never change – we all go way over budget. Great post.
.-= Bethany´s last blog ..Holiday Ideas and Decorating =-.

Ann November 16, 2009 at 7:32 pm

This was such an interesting post. Thank you!
.-= Ann´s last blog ..Tomorrow Is A Special Day =-.

Trish@TheOldPostRoad November 17, 2009 at 8:31 am

Love how detailed and well-written this was! Thanks!
.-= Trish@TheOldPostRoad´s last blog ..New Ho-Ho-Ho Art =-.

Jacquie November 17, 2009 at 9:44 am

Another great home make-over movie with a great cast ( Doris Day, David Niven!) is ‘Please Don’t Eat The Daisies”. Great blog!

Lisa November 17, 2009 at 12:30 pm

I have never heard of this movie but you did an excellent summary of it! I am going to hunt it down. It sounds delightful, lol.

By the way, I REALLY love your blog! You’re very talented at what you put together for everyone to view. :)
.-= Lisa´s last blog ..Thanksgiving Table 2009 and the Kid’s Table too! =-.

Susan @ Your home, only better. November 17, 2009 at 2:51 pm

I MUST go see that movie. Off to see if Netflix has it. Great post…thanks! :)
.-= Susan @ Your home, only better.´s last blog ..Color Trends for 2011 =-.

rue November 17, 2009 at 4:59 pm

I can not believe I haven’t seen this movie! I must buy it NOW.
.-= rue´s last blog ..Birthday trip~ part two =-.

Jacki November 17, 2009 at 7:01 pm

That was so interesting! I’ve seen the movie once, but now I want to watch it again. And read the book! – I didn’t know it was based on a book. Thanks for such a fascinating article.
.-= Jacki´s last blog ..Garage Sale Treasure and Tagged =-.

cara November 17, 2009 at 9:37 pm

Great, great post! I am putting it in my Netflix queue NOW!
.-= cara´s last blog ..The Chinese Coat Rack Trick =-.

Lauren Liess November 18, 2009 at 8:16 am

definitely need to see it… love the raffle house!
.-= Lauren Liess´s last blog ..Our 70s Split Redo Part IV: The Master Bedroom =-.

Sharon November 18, 2009 at 9:46 pm

Thank you … I remember watching that movie … and you picked the perfect quote.
.-= Sharon´s last blog ..New Pillow =-.

melissa November 19, 2009 at 9:05 am

Julia, I cannot wait to see this movie now, because (ducking in shame) I have never heard of it! I love all of the background and little facts you give~
.-= melissa´s last blog ..Favorite Things Party! =-.

Paula November 20, 2009 at 10:43 am

Thank you for posting this one: it’s one of my favorite movies!! I’m excited to see so many other posts mentioning that they now want to see the movie, too – Myrna Loy is such a great actress (I’m a huge Thin Man Series fan, too!) and I adore her with Cary Grant. The Bachelor and the Bobby Soxer is another great film with this duo: and a another beautiful home. I’ve never been able to figure how the second level was constructed – the steps going up are only about half the amount of a normal staircase. I wonder if it was a “set” thing or if it was home built on a hill or something.

I can’t wait to go back to this post with my hubby and look at all the history and interesting trivia – we love old houses. When we were dating , one of our favorite after dinner/bookstore things to do would be to drive around and “grade” report cards for different home & subdivions. We could be brutal! Curb appeal & lighting were key to getting a high score!!

Tanya December 3, 2009 at 12:14 am

I love this movie. Thanks for all of the background info. I’ll have to watch it again soon with new appreciation!
.-= Tanya´s last blog ..Christmas Decorating with Garage Sale Goodies =-.

Mary December 10, 2009 at 7:07 pm

I have never heard of this movie and it sounds like one that I would love!! THank you for sharing about it. It will be so much more fun to see it knowing all the details behind the movie!!! I just watched “The Bishop’s wife” which is my favorite Cary Grant film- gotta love an angel and a gorgeous one at that!!

blessings
mary
.-= Mary´s last blog .. =-.

Elaine December 18, 2009 at 5:43 am

Oh Julie what a great read!! I really enjoyed that,you really work hard with all your research, love your new banner too & I will grab your button, its so good to be back blogging after 3 months away, Elaine :)
.-= Elaine´s last blog ..I am back!! =-.

Joanne January 2, 2010 at 8:13 pm

The house the author actually built is in New Milford, CT.

Kristen January 9, 2010 at 5:39 pm

I’m a huge Cary Grant fan. I don’t know how I missed this movie with this house. I’m going to have to check it out now. Thanks.

Marija January 11, 2010 at 7:35 pm

Love this movie also – for years tried to find information about this house, now here it is. Thank you for posting.
Another old movie house that always had my curiosity was in “Dear Ruth” with William Holden & Joan Caulfield, has that fuzzy cozy charm, wonder if that would ever be a project?

hookedonhouses January 11, 2010 at 7:36 pm

Hi, Marija! I’ve never seen “Dear Ruth.” I’ll have to check it out! -Julia

MrsTailleur January 23, 2010 at 8:09 am

This is one of my favorite movies. I too love the scene where she is telling the workers the paint color. I have loved Cary Grant all my life.
You would have thought the selling of the book would have kept the family in the house.

Ron H March 24, 2010 at 3:58 am

This is my (almost) favorite movie house. (It’s tied with the Bringing Up Baby stone house). When I first heard a few years ago that this one was still standing in Malibu State Park, I found the aerial shots of it in Google and Bing maps. It took a bit of searching to locate in the photos, but wasn’t too difficult to find. The aerial shots aren’t very good (with the Bing Bird’s Eye views the best), but you could tell the main architectural features were intact.

Thanks for posting the “as is” image, which is certainly a disappointment in it’s current state, but obviously wouldn’t take all that much to restore the exterior to its movie looks.

As an aside, I understand that two houses were actually built for the film, one for the “under construction” filming, and one for filming in a finished state. Obviously this makes sense, as you wouldn’t want to tie a shooting schedule to the building schedule, and further keep interrupting the construction for filming. I always wondered where the second house was built, and if it, too, was still standing. A lot of the movie houses built around the country for the promotion seemed to be smaller and not exactly like the original, but the second shooting house would have to be virtually identical.

One interesting thing about the “then” and “now” photographs is that the shape of the main chimney differs from almost square in the film era photos, to rectangular in the current version of the house. That’s major construction, as it would have to go from the ground up, unless the current rectangular version is the original, and for some reason was built out cosmetically above the roof line to it’s square configuration just for the film.

Anyway, I wish the State of California would someday decide to restore the Blandings house!

Love this site–I’d still like to know something about the Bringing Up Baby house, of which there doesn’t seem to be any references at all, except that I did read somewhere that Howard Hawks’ home was later built using the plans for the movie house.

Ron H
Reno NV

Richard Orton June 1, 2010 at 9:54 pm

I once tried to visit Howard Hawk’s house in Bel-Air. I read a biography of his and had a pretty good idea where to find it but driving there was impossible. It’s now a private road in a nice canyon and there’s guard and gate keeping from traveling down the street. Bet it’s still nice. Nearby there was William Wellman’s house built around the same time. It was for sale recently and in pictures that I saw it looked like it had some of that nice colonial stonework popular in Hollywood in the late 1930s.

Catherine Guhl Massung August 16, 2010 at 4:57 pm

Love this website!
Mr. Blandings is one of my favorite movies- just like everyone else
has commented! This home just has a warmth that touches your
soul and makes you want to live a better, happier more productive
life! Well, at least for me it’s true!
Yes, it’s very sad to see the house the way it currently is-so disappointed
the state of Cali is so remiss in taking care of what people have given
to it; sadly, our wonderful state is so cash poor that I doubt anything
can be done to save this home.

begin with a Sunny Outlook September 18, 2010 at 10:06 am

This is one of my favorite movies also! I love watching old movies like this to see the classic architecture – the beautiful house design and detailing was never better. Love the 12-over-12 sash windows. I wish that kind of woodwork detailing and architectural features were just as commonplace today.

a November 3, 2010 at 5:21 pm

I live in New Milford, Connecticut, and was delighted to find out that the author built his real dream house here, not far from where I live.

Chris November 14, 2010 at 10:30 pm

This is also one of my favorite movies of all time. My husband and I both watch it, and refer to lines from it when we’re doing a remodeling project of our own. The paint scene is one of our favorites, and when we “exchange words” our kids will say “bicker bicker bicker.” Love seeing the photos.

cloud @ painting contractor manhattan January 11, 2011 at 3:28 am

I think the house is nice but I can’t fully appreciate it because the photos are in black and white. But the house is featured here, then it is still nice.

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