Oscar Movies: George Washington Slept Here (1942)

Moss Hart and George S. Kaufman Broadway hit “George Washington Slept Here” starred Jack Benny as city dweller Bill Fuller, who, motivated by the spirit of “back to the soil,” purchases a ramshackle Colonial-era farmhouse in upstate New York, dragging his reluctant wife Connie with him.

Everett Freeman’s script retains the basics, but in the film, it’s Connie Fuller (Ann Sheridan), an antique collector, who is interested in buying and renovating the old farmhouse, while husband Bill (Jack Benny), suffering from visions of abject poverty, hates the idea.

This change allows Benny to indulge in the frustrated, put-upon slow-burn comedy he does so well.

Most of the humor derives from the many “little” flaws in the old house, such as collapsing walls and ceilings, old plumbing,  categorized by the laconic caretaker Mr. Kimber (Percy Kilbride).

Also funny are the efforts by the bankrupt Bill and Connie to curry favor with their wealthy uncle Stanley (Charles Coburn), who turns out to be a fraud.

Oscar Nominations: 1

Interior Decoration: Max Parker and Mark Lee Kirk, art direction; Casey Roberts, set decoration

Oscar Context:

The Art Direction Oscar went to This Above All

Running time: 93 minutes.

Directed by William Keighley

Written By: Everett Freeman

DVD: November 18, 1992