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This Clark Gable/Jean Harlow/Myrna Loy film is billed as a comedy, but I thought it was more of a drama, albeit with some funny moments.  Gable (at his most gorgeous – I swooned!) is Van Stanhope, successful publishing executive, who is happily married to Linda (Myrna Loy).  Van’s secretary Helen Wilson, known as Whitey, is played by Jean Harlow.  Linda (wrongly) begins to suspect that Van is cheating on her with Whitey, and her suspicions threaten to destroy their marriage.

All three leads were wonderful.  This was actually the first film I had seen Jean Harlow in, and it was not hard to see why she was so adored.  She was an original blonde bombshell, and I don’t think that most photos of her do her justice.  Gable was wonderful as Van, a devoted husband who was so shrewd in business, but so utterly incapable of recognising his tendency to place himself in situations that made him look guilty even when he wasn’t.  Myrna Loy was beautiful as the confused Linda, who started the film full of warmth and happiness, and became colder and more remote as her suspicions chipped away at her.  James Stewart also appeared in the film as Whitey’s boyfriend Dave, who has his own suspicions about her and Van.  It was a small role, the likes of which Stewart would not play again once his own star had risen in Hollywood, but as ever, he was endearing and sweet.

As mentioned earlier, there were fewer laughs than I had expected, but lots of emotion, and I really enjoyed this film.  I would recommend it to fans of any of the three main leads, or anyone who just enjoys good films.

Year of release: 1936

Director: Clarence Brown

Producers: Hunt Stromberg, Clarence Brown

Writers: Norman Krasna, John Lee Mahin, Alice Duer Miller, Faith Baldwin (story from Cosmopolitan magazine)

Main cast: Clark Gable, Myrna Loy, Jean Harlow

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Cary Grant and Myrna Loy head up the cast in this comedy from 1948 (the studio actually wanted Irene Dunne, as she had Grant had teamed up successfully on movies in the past, but she was unavailable). They play Jim and Muriel Blandings, a couple who live in a cramped Manhattan apartment with their two daughters. Annoyed with having so little space, they buy an old house and dream of finally having plenty of room and land. But the house is completely ramshackle and needs pulling down and completely rebuilding, and it seems that everything that can go wrong will go wrong. What started out as an investment fast turns into an ever-growing burden…and as if Jim doesn’t have enough to worry about, he starts suspecting his best friend of having dishonourable intentions towards Muriel – and then there’s the little problem of trying to save his advertising job…

This film is not as much of a screwball comedy as some of Cary Grant’s other films, but it is just as entertaining. He and Myrna Loy play off each other perfectly, and there are plenty of laughs to be had as their tale of woe unfolds. This film actually inspired the remake ‘The Money Pit’ starring Tom Hanks and Shelley Long; I enjoyed that film, but this one is much better. Grant plays the increasingly frustrated Jim beautifully, and Loy is the perfect foil for him. Also terrific is Melvyn Douglas as Jim’s lawyer and best friend Bill Cole.

The film does capture the numerous pitfalls in building your own home, and shows how a dream house can quickly turn into a nightmare. It’s not something to be laughed at in real life, but you simply can’t help but laugh here. As always, Grant’s facial expressions and the little touches he adds to his scenes work perfectly. Jim and Muriel stumble from disaster to disaster, and as their problems build, so does the hilarity.

Definitely one to check out for Cary Grant fans – and also for people who have never even seen one of his films before. Lots of fun!

Year of release: 1948

Director: H.C. Potter

Writers: Eric Hodgins (novel), Norman Panama, Melvin Frank

Main cast: Cary Grant, Myrna Loy, Melvyn Douglas

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