Desk Set is a comedy from 1957, starring legendary screen (and off-screen) couple, Katharine Hepburn and Spencer Tracy. Despite looking somewhat dated, it still has plenty of crisp humour, great acting by the major and minor characters, and a storyline that has relevance today.
Hepburn is Bunny(!) Watson, who runs the research department of a television company, aided by her friends and colleagues Peg (Joan Blondell, who gives an excellent performance), Sylvia (Dina Merrill) and Ruthie (Sue Randall). Spencer Tracy is Richard Sumner, a computer expert called in to modernise the department. Despite their professional conflicts – and Bunny’s relationship with smarmy Mike Cutler (Gig Young) Bunny and Richard are drawn to each other.
I really liked this film – far more than I expected to, in fact. There were lots of genuinely funny moments, but the theme of the film – people scared of losing their job to time and money saving technology – was ahead of its time.
Hepburn and Tracy have terrific chemistry together – no doubt probably because of their real life relationship – and both are at the top of their game here. Desk Set is not one of the more popular comedies featuring these two fine actors, and is not as well known as say, Adam’s Rib, but it is definitely worth checking out. There are some real zingy one-liners, and it’s also nice to see Katharine Hepburn – who can sometimes seem a little hard – play a more relaxed, fun-loving character. Spencer Tracy meanwhile, shows all the talent that made him a respected and esteemed actor.
Highly recommended for anyone wanting a feel-good movie that provides plenty of laughs!
Year of release: 1957
Director: Walter Lang
Producer: Henry Ephron
Writers: William Marchant (play), Phoebe Ephron, Henry Ephron
Main cast: Katharine Hepburn, Spencer Tracy, Gig Young, Joan Blondell, Sue Randall, Dina Merrill