A reader of this blog sent me this book in the mail. I had gushed about my upcoming visit to Century City in Los Angeles for my upcoming Investing in Land Live Seminar. The book does have a great description of the "city in a city" development and serves as a great tour guide. But browsing through this encyclopedia of L.A. neighborhoods is a movie lover's delight.
In fact, this book has sparked a new personal obsession. To find and research the original Blanding homes built for the famous Cary Grant film.
One of my favorite real estate movies of all time is the 1948 classic MR. BLANDINGS BUILDS HIS DREAM HOUSE. This extremely funny comedy is on the American Film Institute's 100 Years....100 Laughs list at #72.
The Mr. Blandings of the title is Jim Blandings, played by Cary Grant. He lives with his wife Muriel (Myrna Loy) and their two daughers in a tiny Manhattan apartment. Jim works in the advertising game and normally writes copy that drives others crazy. But one day Mr. Blanding is smitten with an advertisement for some homes in Connecticut and he is hooked, literally.
After buying a fixer-upper with the plan to rehab the place, the Blandings soon realize they are in far over their heads. Think Tom Hanks and Shelly Long in the 1986 comedy, THE MONEY PIT which recycled many of the jokes from BLANDINGS. Jim and Muriel make just about every mistake novice real estate investors make. Only in the film it's funny. In real life, it's heartbreaking.
Eventually the too-smooth-by-half lawyer friend of Jim (the brilliant Melvyn Douglas) enters the picture to help and only seems to make matters worse!
In the end of course, as it must in every 1940's era Hollywood film, everything works out for the Blandings. Jim's ultimate lesson, which he recites like a good ad man, should put chills up the spine of any experienced real estate rehabber:
"Some things you do buy with your heart."
What I learned from my new Los Angeles architecture book THAT I NEVER KNEW is that the Blandings home actually was built and still stands in Malibu Creek State Park. Here is the passage in the book.
Wikipedia says that 73 Blandings homes were built all around the United States as a promotion for the film. Some of these Connecticut Colonials were sold by raffles. Sixty of the homes were equipped with General Electric appliances and promoted by GE, an early example of cross promotion. The advertisement from this source is below.
These are some still frame captures from the film that show the classic Connecticut Colonial style.
I certainly will be visiting Malibu Creek State Park to visit this movie set myself. Films from M*A*S*H to the original PLANET OF THE APES were also filmed there.
Wiki lists sixty cities where Blandings Homes were built. If you know anything about a Blandings home in your city, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org. A photograph would be amazing. A story even more fascinating. They just don't do movie promotions like this anymore!
UPDATE: Here is a news account of a Blandings House near Toledo, Ohio. A photo of the home is below. Thanks Susan for the link!