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Desk Set
     

Desk Set

4.1 8
Director: Walter Lang

Cast: Spencer Tracy, Katharine Hepburn, Gig Young

 

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Based on the Broadway play by Robert Fryer and Lawrence Carr, Desk Set represents the eighth screen teaming of Spencer Tracy and Katharine Hepburn. Hepburn plays the head of a TV network research department; Tracy plays an efficiency expert, hired to modernize Hepburn's operation. When Tracy has a huge computer installed, Hepburn and her co-workers (including

Overview

Based on the Broadway play by Robert Fryer and Lawrence Carr, Desk Set represents the eighth screen teaming of Spencer Tracy and Katharine Hepburn. Hepburn plays the head of a TV network research department; Tracy plays an efficiency expert, hired to modernize Hepburn's operation. When Tracy has a huge computer installed, Hepburn and her co-workers (including Joan Blondell and Sue "Miss Landers" Randall) fear that they're going to lose their jobs. Their suspicions are confirmed when the computer merrily begins issuing pink termination slips. But something is obviously amiss: the computer not only fires the ladies, but also the head of the network--and Tracy, who isn't even on the company payroll! At this point, Tracy explains that the computer was designed to help Hepburn and her staff and not replace them; he also confesses that, given the pink-slip incident, this might not have been such a hot idea. But Hepburn, who has fallen in love with Tracy, is in just the right mood to forgive him--and doesn't need to consult her research files to come up with this decision.

Editorial Reviews

All Movie Guide - Craig Butler
Among the weaker of the Spencer Tracy-Katharine Hepburn films, Desk Set is nonetheless an enjoyable and entertaining trifle. Inevitably dated, the topical film (and play upon which it was based) probably packed more punch when initially released; even today, however, there's more than enough here to make this a worthwhile viewing experience. Chief among its assets, of course, are the stars and their undeniable and fascinating onscreen chemistry. Together, they create an easy goodwill that draws the viewer in and makes him/her willing to overlook the staginess of much of the movie and the artificiality of much of its plotting (including an ending which, while effective, is quite contrived). Tracy in particular comes off well; his early "computer nerd" character has an earnestness that is quite appealing. The stars are assisted by an exceptional supporting cast that understands exactly how to play light comedy of this nature. Joan Blondell and Gig Young stand out in this regard, but even actors in quite minor parts (such as Harry Ellerbe and Ida Moore) make an impression. If the plotting of the piece can be questioned, Henry and Phoebe Ephron's dialogue is bright and snappy. Walter Lang's direction is smooth and efficient, and the very 1950's look to the film is an added bonus. Desk Set may not set off fireworks, but it has a modest sparkle that's quite engaging.

Product Details

Release Date:
12/03/2013
UPC:
0024543920069
Original Release:
1957
Rating:
NR
Source:
20th Century Fox
Region Code:
A
Time:
1:43:00

Special Features

Fox Movietone News: designers inspired for new creation by film Desk Set; Commentary by actors Dina Merrill and John Lee; Original theatrical trailer

Cast & Crew

Performance Credits
Spencer Tracy Richard Sumner
Katharine Hepburn Bunny Watson
Gig Young Mike Cutler
Joan Blondell Peg Costello
Dina Merrill Sylvia Blair
Sue Randall Ruthie Saylor
Neva Patterson Miss Warringer
Harry Ellerbe Smithers
Nicholas Joy Azae
Diane Jergens Alice
Merry Anders Cathy
Ida Moore Old Lady
Rachel Stephens Receptionist
Jesslyn Fax Mrs. Hewitt
Richard Gardner Fred
Charles Heard Actor
Renny McEvoy Man
Shirley Mitchell Myra Smithers
King Mojave Actor
Hal Taggart Actor
Harry Evans Actor
Sammy Ogg Kenny

Technical Credits
Walter Lang Director
Henry Ephron Producer,Screenwriter
Phoebe Ephron Screenwriter
Paul S. Fox Set Decoration/Design
Ray Kellogg Special Effects
Charles LeMaire Costumes/Costume Designer
Cyril Mockridge Score Composer
Lionel Newman Musical Direction/Supervision
Ben Nye Makeup
Maurice Randsford Art Director
Maurice Ransford Production Designer
Walter Scott Set Decoration/Design
Leon Shamroy Cinematographer
Robert L. Simpson Editor
Lyle Wheeler Art Director

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4.1 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 8 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Tracy and Hepburn, will beat any three of a kind!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
It takes a certain sense of humor to enjoy this movie. If you have it, then you will be laughing out loud part of the time and just enjoying the clever dialogue at other times. Not only are Hepburn's interactions with Tracy terrific, but she has some wonderful scenes with Joan Blondell. You really believe that they've worked together for years and have become great friends. There is nothing quite like watching and listening to Hepburn recite the beginning of "The Song of Hiawatha" in her New England accent. By the way, EMERAC's "person" was played by the wonderful Neva Patterson.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Guest More than 1 year ago
¿Desk Set¿ is one of Katherine Hepburn and Spencer Tracy¿s later film efforts - post MGM, pre-'Guess Who's Coming To Dinner.' But it generally lacks in the chemistry that most of their work at MGM had in spades. Tracy is Richard Sumner, a method's engineer who's assigned to make the daily operation of a television station more efficient. Of course he's bound to butt heads with researcher, Bunny Watson (Hepburn). Unlike most Tracy/Hepburn movies, in which their love for one another is never in question, on this occasion, Gig Young is inexplicably and needlessly thrown into the mix as Bunny's boyfriend, Mike Cutler. Joan Blondell is a welcome edition as the wise cracking, Peg Costello. But it's the remnant pang of that old Hepburn/Tracy's stardust and magic that keeps this otherwise deadly boring film afloat. ¿Desk Set¿ is at last presented in its original Cinemascope 2:35:1 aspect ratio and it is anamorphically enhanced to take full advantage of 16:9 displays. Although colors can be rich, vibrant and bold, flesh tones have an uncanny pasty look in certain scenes and a reddish/pinkish overcast in others. There are instances where dirt, film grain and age related artifacts crop up throughout this print. Also, black levels tend to be weak in certain scenes. There's a hint of edge enhancement and some pixelization but the print is generally smooth looking. The audio, as with all Cinemascope films of the period, is vintage stereo and presented at a reasonable listening level. Fox is genuinely inconsistent in the extra content they provide for their 'Studio Series' titles. If you recall, 'The Day The Earth Stood Still' contained a 70 min. documentary while 'The Inn of The Sixth Happiness' had only an audio commentary. On this occasion we get an audio commentary and some truncated Movietones junk that is short, boring and generally slapped together as an afterthought. Not what I would expect from any collection dubbed, 'Studio Series'. If you're a die hard Tracy/Hepburn fan than this is a must have. But it's not one of their best or even one of their mediocre. It's just big on...well, being big and short, unfortunately, on entertainment!
Guest More than 1 year ago
I absoluteley love watching the wits of Tracy's and Hepburn's characters pitted against each other not only for the rivalry, but for the joy they exhibit in being so engaged. I work with modern day technology and because I've seen so many advances in my fifty plus years, I feel the weight of the pressures that such changes in the workplace bring about - both good and bad "for some". Downsizing is real. The "girls'" fears are real that they could be replaced by a machine and cold, uncaring people like the woman "forgot name"who comes along with EMERAC. I also enjoyed Gig Young's character who takes Bunny for granted and even more, the fact that she finally dumps him for the much more interesting Tracy character who sees her as what she really is - a warm, intelligent equal and partner.
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