You may have noticed there’s been nothing but movie talk this month in my column. This is all thanks to there being a large number of releases this month, and most of them getting sent across my desk to talk about. I’ve got a trio of new blu-ray Comedies this week from your favorite physical media powerhouse and mine, Warner Archive. Two of them were films I was familiar with—including an all-time fave—and the other was a movie I hadn’t seen before.
From 1948, released by RKO, we have Cary Grant, Myrna Loy, and Melvyn Douglas in “Mr. Blandings Builds his Dream House.” I love this movie and have since I first saw it on TCM some twenty years ago, it’s a delightful and charming comedy that holds up very well. It’s even something of a forerunner to our HGTV obsessed culture. Grant plays Jim Blandings, an advertising executive who is tired of living in his cramped, New York City apartment with his wife (Loy) and their two kids.
Jim decides to find land out in Connecticut and build a dream house for him and his family, with his best friend, who is a lawyer (Douglas) by his side to advise him. Mr. Blandings finds soon, through trial and error—more on the side of error—about the joys and headaches of homeownership. It’s one of the best movies of the classic Hollywood era, and I don’t see how anyone wouldn’t enjoy it.
The news of “Mr. Blandings” coming to blu-ray was cause for celebration and the disc looks phenomenal. Luckily the original nitrate camera negative for “Mr. Blandings Builds his Dream House” still existed and was used as the source for the new 4K scan that this 1080p blu-ray is based on. The movie hasn’t looked this good ever on home video, and perhaps not as good since it was first in theaters. Bonus materials on the disc include two radio versions of the movie, both with Grant, a trailer, and perhaps most apt, Tex Avery’s wonderful cartoon “House of Tomorrow” in full HD as well.
After winning the Oscar for Best Supporting Actor from his role in “From Here to Eternity,” Frank Sinatra found himself with a renewed film career. The singer worked heavily on screen throughout the 1950s and 1960s. 1955’s “The Tender Trap” is a favorite Comedy featuring the singer alongside Debbie Reynolds, David Wayne, Celeste Holm, and future Morticia, Carolyn Jones.
Based on the stage play of the same name, co-written by Dobie Gillis creator Max Shulman, “The Tender Trap” has Sinatra in the role of a broadway agent who is enjoying his bachelorhood to the max. When his married friend comes to stay with him for a few days, to get a break from his wife, his look at the institution starts to change. Again sourced from a 4K scan of this film’s original camera negative, the Cinemascope presentation of the film looks great, sharp with good color. A documentary looking at Sinatra in the 1950s is included, as well as some previews of the film from the TV show “MGM Parade.”
Perhaps the best feature of the blu-ray is the inclusion of “The Tender Traps” original milt-channel soundtrack from 1955. Many Cinemascope movies were sent out in a photo version of Surround Sound, though few films exist with those original mixes intact. This one does and included on the disc as a DTS-HD audio track, it sounds great! Yards ahead of the old DVD release of the film.
Lastly, from 1961 we have Bob Hope and Lana Turner in “Bachelor in Paradise.” This move is, well, it’s just OK. It’s VERY dated but does feature some lovely mid-century modern imagery for those who love such styles. Much like “Tinder Trap” Bob Hope plays a playboy author who moves into suburban American to study what it’s like. Soon though, he starts to think he too might like to find a wife of his own. The movie may have been funny in the 1960s, but it hasn’t held up well. It’s not the worst movie, but it just seems kinda tired at times. The Henry Mancini score is a win, however.
Taken from another 4K scan of the original camera negative, “Bachelor in Paradise” looks great and under the direction of no less than Jack Arnold of Universal Monster movie fame, it’s competently made. I’d only suggest it for the Mid-Century Modern sights and those of you who are Hope and/or Turner completists.
That’s it for this week/month. Thanks for following along with me as we’ve had a large number of movies to look at. I hope you’ll consider giving some of these a try, “Mr. Blandings” is a must-own, as far as I’m concerned. See you next week.