Posts Tagged ‘H. C. Potter’

My Classic Movie Pick: Mr. Blandings Builds His Dreamhouse

My mom, born in 1946 and thus a baby boomer, has learned a lot about tech this past year: she knows how to take pics and post them to her Kindle, she and my dad got an Amazon firestick and know how to watch movies via streaming with that device, and she recently joined Facebook.  One thing I’m tickled for her is that she has been watching more classic movies on TCM, many from when she was just a tot, that she remembers hearing my grandparents say were good films, but she had never seen before.  One such film is my classic movie pick for this week, Mr. Blandings Builds His Dreamhouse.    

For anyone who has ever had a house built, this film is for you! A comedy, Mr. Blandings Builds His Dream House is a fun view of the aspects of having one’s dream house built.  Set in NYC, it’s 1948 and  ad man Jim Blandings(Cary Grant) and his wife Muriel(Myrna Loy) live in a cramped apartment with their two daughters.  Muriel wants to redecorate the apartment and Jim nixes that idea.  One day he sees an ad in the newspaper touting the beauty of building a house in nearby Connecticut and he quickly passes on that idea to Muriel and their daughters.  The Blandings contact a real estate developer in Connecticut and soon they are the proud owners of the old “Hacket Place”, an  American Revolutionary War era farm house.  The Blandings good friend and lawyer, Bill Cole(Melvyn Douglas) mildly chastises the Blandings for getting “took” for buying this property, and spending more on it than what the area market sells land for.  The family soon finds out that the farm house is structurally unsafe and it has to be torn down.  The family decides that a new home will be built in its place.

What makes this movie fun to watch is the every man woes of Grant, as Jim, simply wanting a new house built on his purchased land.  He doesn’t want an extravagant house, just a nice, basic house.  However, he and Muriel and his daughters begin  adding  rooms and other ideas  to what the house should  have with the architect.  After some more legal foibles having to do with the property, digging for a well, having to blast away a stone ledge before the foundation can be laid, sketchy construction workers, you’d think Jim Blandings would be ready to forget the whole plan of building this house!  However, Jim and Muriel carry on with their dream.  Two funny side plots involve Jim having to come up with a winning ad campaign for Wham Ham or he’ll lose his job, and the daughters putting it into Jim’s head that Muriel truly loves Bill, their lawyer friend, as he was a guy she dated in college, before she ever met Jim.  To me, one of the funniest scenes from the movie is when Muriel, in true interior design mode, explains the colors of paint she wants for rooms in the house and after she leaves the room, the painters look at each other and rattle off her paint colors in their basic names: red, green, blue, yellow, and white.  Here’s a link to that funny scene.  Here is also a fun trailer that was made to help introduce the movie to theatre audiences in 1948.

Based upon a best-selling novel, filled with a great cast, screenplay, and director, try to see this film.  It’s available to purchase at TCM’s Shop, one can purchase it or view it via instant rent at Amazon, and from time to time, TCM does air it.    

My Classic Movie Pick: Mr. Lucky

I was discussing classic films with a friend this week and we both agreed, any movie that stars Cary Grant is an automatic favorite film and a  must-see.  That bit of discussion set my brain to thinking about Cary Grant films  and I  decided that  I should write about  one of his more obscure films, but one  that is still a good movie to view.  Plus it features  the hobby of knitting!  Yes, Cary has to learn to knit in this film!  It is 1943’s Mr. Lucky, produced by RKO studios and directed by H.C. Potter.  It was bought by RKO from Milton Holmes’s story, “Bundles for Freedom” and he,  along with Adrian Scott, wrote the screenplay.  Grant’s co-stars in the film are Laraine Day, Charles Bickford, Gladys Cooper, Alan Carney, Paul Stewart, Kay Johnson, and Florence Bates.Mr. Lucky

This comedy-romance-drama, is set in New York City as World War II is raging.    Grant plays Joe “The Greek” Adams, a gambler with a couple of problems.  He and his gambling partner, Zepp(Paul Stewart),  have received draft notices and neither of them wants to serve.  They have to come up with a plan to get out of the draft.  One of their gambling employees, Joe Bascopolous, has died and his draft  status was 4F.  Either Joe or Zepp can use Bascopolous’s identity so they decide to gamble for it.  Zepp cheats but Joe wins and decides to now go by the name of Joe Bascopolous.  The second problem for Joe is the lack of money to pay for his gambling ship.  He wants to raise enough dough to take his ship down to Cuba.  How will Joe find that bankroll of dough?

Joe(Grant) and Zepp(Paul Stewart) discussing their two problems.

Joe(Grant) and Zepp(Paul Stewart) discussing their two problems.

He finds it through a local War Relief organization, run by society ladies, and the head lady is Veronica Steadman, played by Gladys Cooper.   Joe has to gain Mrs. Steadman’s trust, the trust of the other ladies at the organization, and the trust of wealthy society lady Dorothy Bryant, played by Laraine Day.  Miss Bryant is beautiful, single, rich, and second-in-command at the War Relief organization, and Joe knows he has to have a positive influence on her if he is to gain Mrs. Steadman’s approval and money.  To prove his trustworthiness, after he has pledged that he wants to join the group of ladies, he agrees to learn to knit!  One of the daily tasks for the ladies  is to knit socks and scarves for the soldiers overseas, and it is a very comical scene as Mrs. Van Every(Florence Bates) takes on the task with joy and energy of teaching Joe how to knit one and purl two!  Seeing a handsome man in their midst is also quite an event for the ladies of the organization!

It's a delight to find out that Cary Grant has joined your group!

It’s a delight to find out that Cary Grant has joined your group!

Mrs. Van Every(Florence Bates) who gets to teach Cary Grant how to knit!

Mrs. Van Every(Florence Bates) who gets to teach Cary Grant how to knit!

Learning to knit can be frustrating!

Learning to knit can be frustrating!

Mrs. Veronica Steadman(Gladys Cooper), head of the War Relief organization

Mrs. Veronica Steadman(Gladys Cooper), head of the War Relief organization

With all of the knitting going on, and Joe’s punctuality and  his well-dressed and polite persona, he  wins  Mrs. Steadman and Miss Bryant over and soon they agree to a fundraising idea he has for the organization: a charity gambling night.  Joe promises the ladies that they’ll raise enough money to outfit a relief ship.  What Joe is really planning to do is supply the charity gambling event with cashboxes with false bottoms in them so Joe and his gambling outfit can steal the winnings and with that money, he can take his gang and his ship south to Cuba.  However, a letter Joe receives that morning changes everything.  Joe  receives a letter from the real Joe Bascopolous’s mother in Greece.  The letter is written in Greek and Joe is curious about it’s contents so he visits a nearby Greek Orthodox Church and asks the priest there to translate it for him.  The letter informs Joe that the Nazis overran their village and how all of the Greek men died trying to protect their village.  Joe thanks the priest for translating the letter and then heads to the nearest park bench, to sit and think about his life, in comparison to the brave Greek men’s lives.

When Joe arrives at the War Relief organization for the start of the Charity Casino Night, he tells his co-hort, Crunk,(Alan Carney), that he has decided to put all of the winnings towards the ladies’ goal for  war relief.  Zepp overhears this change in plans and decides to stop this from happening.  At the end of the evening, Zepp pulls a gun on Joe and forces him to gather up the winnings.  Dorothy accidentally enters the room and sees Joe collecting the money and assumes the worst about Joe, that he is really just a no-good gambler and crook.  To protect Dorothy so she can’t be one of Zepp’s victims, Joe knocks her out,and  then Joe manages to attack Zepp and kills him in self-defense, but also gets shot in the altarcation.  Joe then  escapes from the War Relief organization’s building.

Some days go by and  Dorothy is feeling very low and stupid for having fallen for Joe and his offer to help the War Relief organization.   One day a man arrives at the War Relief’s building.  He introduces himself as Mr. Hard Swede, that he is a friend of Joe’s, and that Joe wanted him to give the ladies a packet.  In the packet is the money that the ladies rightly earned through their Charity Casino night!  Some more days go by and Dorothy is informed that Joe Bascopolous is dead.  She asks to see a picture of Joe and it isn’t the Joe that she fell in love with.  She learns that Bascopolous worked on a ship called the “Briny Marlin” and remembering some Australian slang phrases Joe had taught her one evening, she rushes to the docks, knowing that the ship and her Joe are probably there.   Dorothy reaches the dock and sees the ship and Joe and begs him to take her with him.  Joe has loaded his ship with war relief supplies and informs Dorothy that he is sailing to Europe and it will be too dangerous to take her with him.  He treats her rudely, as he doesn’t want her to know his real feelings for her.  A few weeks later, Dorothy finds out that the Briny Marlin was torpedoed on its return to New York City and sunk.  Despite this awful news, Dorothy is confident that Joe somehow survived  and she visits the dock each night waiting for his return.

The movie has a happy ending and I don’t want to reveal more to ruin it for the viewer.  Suffice it to say that the movie was a huge hit with the audiences of 1943 and it earned a profit of $1, 603,000 at the box office.  If you are a Cary Grant fan, or if you love knitting, if you want a film that has a bit of a deeper message than a typical romance-comedy, than seek out Mr. Lucky.  The movie is available through Amazon.com, clips of it are on Youtube, and Turner Classic Movies will be airing it this weekend, on March 30th, at 10:30 p.m. CST.

Cary and Laraine

Trying to work his charm on Miss Bryant(Laraine Day).

Trying to work his charm on Miss Bryant(Laraine Day).