Bunny Watson (Katharine Hepburn) heads up the research department at the Federal Broadcasting Company, a major TV network. And she does her job very well, thank you very much. Assigned by the network president to introduc... more »e computers into some of the department?s functions, Richard Sumner (Spencer Tracy) arrives at Bunny?s well-run division to observe daily activities. Unfortunately, however, Sumner is ordered to keep his mission secret. As a result, the whole staff believes they are being replaced. To make matters worse, there appears to be more than a little electricity between Bunny and Sumner, which upsets Bunny?s boyfriend Mike (Gig Young). As the tension mounts in the office, so do the laughs in this classic romantic comedy.« less
"I hesitate to write this review, since "Desk Set" is not merely my favorite Hepburn-Tracy movie, but also my favorite movie. Moreover, it includes my favorite scene in the movies, the "scene on the roof." Hence, I ain't objective. The roof scene, in which Tracy gives Hepburn what is essentially an I.Q. test, and Hepburn aces it, is not merely brilliant Tracy/Hepburn (told you I was biased), but a classic example of the jousting that occurs when a very smart guy meets a very smart woman. Inevitably -- because this is Tracy and Hepburn -- Richard Sumner admires and, eventually, falls madly in love with Bunny Watson, who dumps her long-time, self-centered, unappreciative boyfriend in order to marry him. Everything about this film is delightful, from Tracy's cautioning Hepburn, "Never assume!" before relating the famous "detective" problem (see title of this review), to the office jokes between the legal department and the librarians, the floating-island dessert, Tracy's bongo drums, and the rousing climax in which, as the new library computer spews out all 87 verses of the poem, "Curfew," instead of data about the island of Corfu (having been mis-programed by a female in god-forbid -- a suit), Hepburn theatrically recites the poem, rounding off each verse with a resounding, "Curfew will not ring tonight!" "Should Bunny Watson marry Richard Sumner?" Tracy types into his computer. "I thought that you said that it couldn't evaluate?" asks Hepburn. "I programmed in the answer," Tracy responds.So have I. This is a great movie: it has humor, romance, intelligence and wit. Love it. Buy it. Most importantly -- make the studio put it out in DVD."
Classic Tracy-Hepburn comedy
M. J. Walters | Chicago, IL USA | 01/05/2001
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Hepburn gives us another wonderful performance as Bunny Watson, head of a reference department at a television broadcast company. Spencer Tracy turns in one of his classic gruff, intelligent and somewhat absent-minded performances as Richard Sumner who has been hired to computerize the company on the eve of a big merger. Thanks to a deftly demonstrated grapevine within the company, nothing of his purpose can be revealed, and much of the film's humor derives from the wild speculation that arises as a result. Bunny, who is involved with her boss, Mike Cutler, is immediately interested in Sumner, partly out of curiosity (Is he there to make her obsolete?) and partly because the sparks just fly between them in classic exchanges such as this:Bunny: I don't smoke, I only drink champagne when I'm lucky enough to get it, my hair is naturally natural, I live alone...and so do you.Sumner: How do you know that?Bunny: Because you're wearing one brown sock and one black sock.You know they're made for each other, that Mike isn't the right man for Bunny and never was, but Bunny's ambivalence over what she supposes Sumner's job to be threatens any possibility of romance between them, and the prying, meddling and jumping-to-conclusions being done all around them only make the situation that much more difficult, and that much funnier.Joan Blondell as Bunny's sexy, funny best friend just shines here with her share of the best lines. Even the bit parts will make you smile. The writing credits include Henry and Phoebe Ephron, parents to Amy, Delia and Nora Ephron. (It's nice to see that their lively sense of the absurd has been transmitted to another generation.) Everything in this film is deftly done; I can't think of a wrong note or a misstep through the entire 103 minute run, and in fact scenes like the dinner at Bunny's apartment or the office Christmas party with the hilarious "Mexican avenue bus" exchange should have you falling off your couch with laughter. If you're not familiar with the work Hepburn and Tracy did together, this is a grand way to start."
A genial, gentle soap bubble of a movie.
Miles D. Moore | Alexandria, VA USA | 12/13/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)
"There are many cinematic moments I cherish, but one of my favorites has to be Katharine Hepburn murdering "Night and Day" to Spencer Tracy's bongo accompaniment in "Desk Set." The movie--about the love and war between computer expert Tracy and TV-network fact-checker Hepburn when she fears Tracy is trying to replace her department with a massive 1950s electronic brain--is the purest froth. But it never puts a foot wrong, and retains the same inspired level of delicate amusement throughout its running length--no easy achievement with farce. (The movie's "electronic brain" is in itself a hoot to behold for audiences in 2002!) In a way, "Desk Set" is an inversion of James Thurber's great comic story "The Catbird Seat," with the man instead of the woman as the efficiency expert and with love triumphing in the end (the latter a most un-Thurberish development). It's redundant by now to praise Tracy and Hepburn, the smoothest old pros in cinematic history; suffice it to say that the superb supporting cast--including Gig Young, Joan Blondell, Dina Merrill, and the nameless old lady who dithers wordlessly through the action--is a match for them."
It's About Time!!
E. Hornaday | Lawrenceville, NJ United States | 03/02/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"It is with a true sense of anticipation and joy that I greet the news that 1957's Desk Set will finally be released on DVD in the U.S. Hopefully, it will be released in the original widescreen theatrical aspect in which it was intended to be viewed. Available for some time in Asia, it's scandalizing that OUR OWN classic cinema takes years to be released here on DVD!Featuring the incomparable talents of Spencer Tracy and Katharine Hepburn in their prime, this sparkling movie enjoyed the lively direction of Walter Lang.Tracy plays a computer engineer, Richard Sumner, hired as a consultant to computerize the research department of a TV network. The research department head, Bunny Watson, played by Hepburn, hasn't been told the specifics of the project and erroneously believes the computer being installed, EMERAC, will replace her employees. Sparks soon fly between Tracy and Hepburn not just regarding the workplace situation, but also romantically.The two stars get terrific support by a first-rate cast that includes Joan Blondell, Gig Young, and a youthful Dina Merrill.While many critics fail to list this movie as one of the best outings by film's dynamic duo, I find it endlessly entertaining and great fun. I love the witty dialog and the fantastic chemistry between Tracy and Hepburn. The scene at Bunny's apartment when Sumner ends up there because of a rain storm features vintage Tracy and Hepburn repartee that easily equates to one of the best encounters ever captured on film for any of their movies.It is also a facinating look at the future computer age as envisioned by the 1950s film industry. The computer marvel created for the story is as big as a living room!Hopefully, this release with lead to the release of the remainder of the Tracy-Hepburn catalog on DVD, and the catalogs of both of those legendary performers' independent projects. I only wish the amazing Heburn had lived to see these fine, memorable films released on DVD. A large market exists in the U.S. for classic movies on DVD. There can really be no excuse for withholding America's rightful cinematic history when Europe and Asia is already enjoying it!!"
Like Floating Island..Just Delicious! Waiting,hoping for DVD
Therese Bohn | Endwell, NY United States | 01/17/2003
(4 out of 5 stars)
"The smart dialogue, the gorgeous fashion, the way you want to kick Gig Young in the teeth...I wish more modern comedy could be this clever. I hope it comes out on DVD so you can enjoy it in it's original widescreen glory! (The movie's 5 stars, the video 4 for the poor pan-and-scan editing) My two favorite scenes are the rooftop lunch quiz and the rainy evening misunderstanding. As usual you never think Tracy is acting, he's so real. And Hepburn's Miss Watson (her name a inside-joke nod to the founder of IBM -Thomas J. Watson) is a character you root for to blow off egotistical beau Mike. Another bonus is the Sumners snooty EMIRAC assistant, Miss Warringer-whose come-uppance couldn't be better. I want a brown coat like Bunny's!"