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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The one Tracy-Heburn movie where she gets the upper hand
This 1957 film directed by Walter Lang was the eighth of the nine Tracy-Hepburn films and their first in color. Based on the play by William Marchant (which had starred Shirley Booth on Broadway), Katharine Hepburn plays Bunny Watson, a reference librarian who works for a television network. Bunny becomes quite concerned when she learns that the new computer being...
Published on 16 Aug. 2005 by Amazon Customer

versus
3.0 out of 5 stars Dated but Sparkling Comedy....
To viewers, some 40 years after this sparkling comedy, of wit and office manners was made, it might look a little staid and trite.

However, if you imagine the pairing of Katherine Hepburn and Spencer Tracy to be a bit like Jolie and Pitt today and that this female dominated office, where the film is set gets intruded by a mysterious man, who ultimately might...
Published on 23 Mar. 2012 by Tim Kidner


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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The one Tracy-Heburn movie where she gets the upper hand, 16 Aug. 2005
By 
Amazon Customer (The Zenith City, Duluth, Minnesota) - See all my reviews
(HALL OF FAME REVIEWER)    (VINE VOICE)   
This review is from: Desk Set [DVD] [1957] (DVD)
This 1957 film directed by Walter Lang was the eighth of the nine Tracy-Hepburn films and their first in color. Based on the play by William Marchant (which had starred Shirley Booth on Broadway), Katharine Hepburn plays Bunny Watson, a reference librarian who works for a television network. Bunny becomes quite concerned when she learns that the new computer being installed by Spencer Tracy's Richard Sumner is supposed to put her and the rest of her staff out of work. Gig Young has his standard role as the nice guy who ends up losing the girl in the end, while Joan Blondell, Dina Merrill and Sue Randall make up the rest of Bunny's brainy staff.
In terms of pairing Tracy and Hepburn "Desk Set" is certainly unique because it is the only film where she gets the upper hand at the end and he gets the comeuppance. Tracy is really nothing more than a misunderstood villain; his new toy is suppose to help the girls in the reference library not replace them. But none of this really matters because in the end it is clear than the women are a lot smarter than the machine (although they do get the baseball trivia answer wrong). The one priceless scene in the film is a roof top lunch between Tracy and Hepburn. He just has a few simple questions for her that turn out to be brainteasers, and Hepburn's character disposes of each and every challenge with an ease grace and guileless naiveté that is quite charming, while Tracy sinks lower and lower as she beats him at every turn. The rest of the film is fairly pedestrian as we wait for the expected happy endings for the computer and romantic plot lines.
After receiving Academy Award nominations for her work in "Summertime" and "The Rainmaker," Hepburn had made a film with Bob Hope that was totally butchered, the astonishingly unfunny film "The Iron Petticoat," and "Desk Set." It would be another two years before she made another film, although Spencer Tracy's failing health was as much if not more of a contributing factor as the sudden drop off in the quality of her films. Hepburn would turn to the stage and perform Shakespeare and then return to the screen with four consecutive Oscar nominated roles. Consequently, in retrospect, "Desk Set" clearly defines the end of a period in Hepburn's career. You can not help but look at the next two decades of her film career, where virtually every film is based on a play by a great dramatist (Tennessee Williams's "Suddenly Last Summer," Eugene O'Neill's "Long Day's Journey Into Night," Euripides's "Trojan Women," Edward Albee's "A Delicate Balance") and not think that this was very much a conscious effort by Hepburn in the wake of this particular fluff piece.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Is something burning?", 18 Jan. 2006
By 
bernie "xyzzy" (Arlington, Texas) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (TOP 1000 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: Desk Set [DVD] [1957] (DVD)
This is an extremely well done screen adaptation of a unique play. You expect nothing less from the team of Spencer Tracy and Katherine Hepburn. However they do not distract from the performances of the other actors who are well-known in their own right. Harry Ellerbe, who plays Smithers, played the main role of Richard Sumner in the play.
Bunny and her staff and the research department are all preparing for Christmas season. But who should appear on a seen but the mysterious Richard Sumner, with a tape measure, 24 questions, and mysterious past in electronic brains. The conversation between Richard Sumner and Bunny are worth with film its self; yet it only gets better from there.
Like many plays the real worth and interest is in the dialog and interaction of the characters more than the action or the overall story. You will get wrapped up in the fun and wince once in a while.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Bunny Vs EMMARAC and Richard, 18 Sept. 2009
By 
Rama Rao "Rama" (Annandale, VA, USA) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
Spencer Tracy and Katharine Hepburn movies are fun to watch; they are great comedies that bring quality family entertainment. Some of their movies tackle social and domestic issues. In the movie Adam's Rib, the inequality of the law; the unwritten rule of husbands shooting adulterers (but not wives) is examined. The movie Pat and Mike deals with the success of women athletes in professional sports, and how some greedy male managers try to exploit them. In Desk Set, the story is about the effect of automation at work place and how it affects the jobs and lives of workers. You get to see a lot of lighter side of office environment.

When efficiency expert Richard Sumner (Spencer Tracy) is assigned to the research department of the Federal Broadcasting Company to evaluate work patterns, his eccentric behavior catches the imagination of researchers Bunny Watson (Katharine Hepburn), Peg Costello (Joan Blondell), Sylvia Blair (Dina Merrill) and Ruthie Saylor (Sue Randall). They begin to worry when Sumner informs Bunny that his mission is to improve the efficiency, but actually Mr. Azae (Nicholas Joy), the head of the network, approves a project to computerize the department and asks Richard to keep the project a secret.

Bunny admires a gown she purchases and all excited in the hope that Mike Cutler (Gig Young), her boss and suitor of seven years will invite her to a country club dance. However, circumstances prevent that from happening, and in the mean time Bunny start dating Richard. The date turns into business meetings for them as Bunny finds out that Richard is the inventor and patent holder of EMMARAC, an electronic brain. The women at research department get worried that their jobs will lost due to the machine, when they find out that half the payroll department gets pink slips after EMMARAC becomes the machine of the Payroll department.

On the eve of a big weekend, Mike break his date with Bunny because of a business trip to Chicago, and in the meantime on a stormy day, Smithers (Harry Ellerbe), the office gossip offers Richard and Bunny a ride and drops them at Bunny's apartment building. Bunny invites the soaked Richard in for dinner and gives him a robe to wear that she has bought as a Christmas gift for Mike. Mike's plane gets cancelled due to inclement weather and he visits Bunny's apartment and gets shocked to see Richard in robe. This is one of the funniest moments of the movie. However, later, at the office Christmas party, the research staff laments the fact that this will be their last office party. The air of congeniality is shattered at the research department when Miss Warringer (Neva Patterson), an assistant of Richard and a computer operator start working. Due to an error of the machine entire staff gets pink dismissal slips including Richard. This is another hilarious moment and the movie takes a jab at the competence of a machine replacing people. The staff obviously sad begins to pack up and refuse to answer the phones, which forces Miss Warringer to deal with the onslaught of calls. Richard then explains that EMMARAC was never intended to replace the research department, but only to help them do their job, and the project was kept secret because of an impending merger with another network.

William Marchant's play Desk Set was based on an actual CBS research librarian, Agnes E. Law, though the film's shots of Rockefeller Center suggest NBC. In Marchant's play there was no romance between Richard Sumner and Bunny Watson, but screenwriters Henry and Phoebe Ephron added a romantic story line to capitalize on the enormous success of Tracy and Hepburn screen relationship. The socialite-heiress Dina Merrill made her film debut in this movie, and Joan Blondell offers an excellent performance as Bunny's sidekick Peg.

This movie is set around Christmas time and movie-critics never mention this. I believe any movie set in Christmas time deserved to be treated as movie worth watching during Christmas time. You get to feel and enjoy the joyous occasion. The festive spirit is reflected in the office, windows, and doors being decorated with Christmas wreaths, Christmas Carols in the background, Christmas party at work with office Santa Claus is a very happy occasion.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Bunny Vs EMMARAC and Richard, 18 Sept. 2009
By 
Rama Rao "Rama" (Annandale, VA, USA) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Desk Set [DVD] [1957] (DVD)
Spencer Tracy and Katharine Hepburn movies are fun to watch; they are great comedies that bring quality family entertainment. Some of their movies tackle social and domestic issues. In the movie Adam's Rib, the inequality of the law; the unwritten rule of husbands shooting adulterers (but not wives) is examined. The movie Pat and Mike deals with the success of women athletes in professional sports, and how some greedy male managers try to exploit them. In Desk Set, the story is about the effect of automation at work place and how it affects the jobs and lives of workers. You get to see a lot of lighter side of office environment.

When efficiency expert Richard Sumner (Spencer Tracy) is assigned to the research department of the Federal Broadcasting Company to evaluate work patterns, his eccentric behavior catches the imagination of researchers Bunny Watson (Katharine Hepburn), Peg Costello (Joan Blondell), Sylvia Blair (Dina Merrill) and Ruthie Saylor (Sue Randall). They begin to worry when Sumner informs Bunny that his mission is to improve the efficiency, but actually Mr. Azae (Nicholas Joy), the head of the network, approves a project to computerize the department and asks Richard to keep the project a secret.

Bunny admires a gown she purchases and all excited in the hope that Mike Cutler (Gig Young), her boss and suitor of seven years will invite her to a country club dance. However, circumstances prevent that from happening, and in the mean time Bunny start dating Richard. The date turns into business meetings for them as Bunny finds out that Richard is the inventor and patent holder of EMMARAC, an electronic brain. The women at research department get worried that their jobs will lost due to the machine, when they find out that half the payroll department gets pink slips after EMMARAC becomes the machine of the Payroll department.

On the eve of a big weekend, Mike break his date with Bunny because of a business trip to Chicago, and in the meantime on a stormy day, Smithers (Harry Ellerbe), the office gossip offers Richard and Bunny a ride and drops them at Bunny's apartment building. Bunny invites the soaked Richard in for dinner and gives him a robe to wear that she has bought as a Christmas gift for Mike. Mike's plane gets cancelled due to inclement weather and he visits Bunny's apartment and gets shocked to see Richard in robe. This is one of the funniest moments of the movie. However, later, at the office Christmas party, the research staff laments the fact that this will be their last office party. The air of congeniality is shattered at the research department when Miss Warringer (Neva Patterson), an assistant of Richard and a computer operator start working. Due to an error of the machine entire staff gets pink dismissal slips including Richard. This is another hilarious moment and the movie takes a jab at the competence of a machine replacing people. The staff obviously sad begins to pack up and refuse to answer the phones, which forces Miss Warringer to deal with the onslaught of calls. Richard then explains that EMMARAC was never intended to replace the research department, but only to help them do their job, and the project was kept secret because of an impending merger with another network.

William Marchant's play Desk Set was based on an actual CBS research librarian, Agnes E. Law, though the film's shots of Rockefeller Center suggest NBC. In Marchant's play there was no romance between Richard Sumner and Bunny Watson, but screenwriters Henry and Phoebe Ephron added a romantic story line to capitalize on the enormous success of Tracy and Hepburn screen relationship. The socialite-heiress Dina Merrill made her film debut in this movie, and Joan Blondell offers an excellent performance as Bunny's sidekick Peg.

This movie is set around Christmas time and movie-critics never mention this. I believe any movie set in Christmas time deserved to be treated as movie worth watching during Christmas time. You get to feel and enjoy the joyous occasion. The festive spirit is reflected in the office, windows, and doors being decorated with Christmas wreaths, Christmas Carols in the background, Christmas party at work with office Santa Claus is a very happy occasion.
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3.0 out of 5 stars Dated but Sparkling Comedy...., 23 Mar. 2012
By 
Tim Kidner "Hucklebrook Hound" (Salisbury, UK) - See all my reviews
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)    (REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Desk Set [DVD] [1957] (DVD)
To viewers, some 40 years after this sparkling comedy, of wit and office manners was made, it might look a little staid and trite.

However, if you imagine the pairing of Katherine Hepburn and Spencer Tracy to be a bit like Jolie and Pitt today and that this female dominated office, where the film is set gets intruded by a mysterious man, who ultimately might well make them redundant. The threat of workplace computerisation, before it was even called that makes a ready scenario for a rom-com.

There are no harsh catty put-downs or threatened lawsuits but gentle, intelligent conversation that bubbles through with witty comedy and a natural chemistry between the leads that one does take for granted. People in offices that we'd not give second glance to, and who'd have unsensational but detailed and flawed lives. Naturally, the office relationship spills out into a social one and then turns romantic. As you'd expect - this is Hollywood, after all.

The technology vs common-sense comedy towards the end has been trod threadbare by now, but then, would have been obvious and fresh.

Watch this 'cause you love Spencer or Katherine. Better still, together. More so, if it's in colour (as was the version I saw).
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A '50s Classic Charmer, 20 Nov. 2010
By 
Lisa K. Schaffnit (Aberystwyth, Wales, UK) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
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This review is from: Desk Set [DVD] [1957] (DVD)
"Desk Set" is one of the best Hepburn-Tracy films. Set during the Christmas season, it is the story of the computer genius with few social graces and the smart-as-a-whip reference librarian who he is trying to replace. The chemistry and whitty reparte between the two carries a film with very little plot. It's a charming film that reminds me of my husband and me (the computer geek and the librarian). Definitely a must-see for Hepburn and Tracy fans.
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5.0 out of 5 stars "Is something burning?", 3 Mar. 2005
By 
bernie "xyzzy" (Arlington, Texas) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (TOP 1000 REVIEWER)   
This is an extremely well done screen adaptation of a unique play. You expect nothing less from the team of Spencer Tracy and Katherine Hepburn. However they do not distract from the performances of the other actors who are well-known in their own right. Harry Ellerbe, who plays Smithers, played the main role of Richard Sumner in the play.
Bunny and her staff and the research department are all preparing for Christmas season. But who should appear on a seen but the mysterious Richard Sumner, with a tape measure, 24 questions, and mysterious past in electronic brains. The conversation between Richard Sumner and Bunny are worth with film its self; yet it only gets better from there.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Tracy/Hepburn rarity, 30 Sept. 2006
By 
David Benson "david@thinknoevil.com" (London United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Desk Set [DVD] [1957] (DVD)
Slick, beautifully mounted comedy-drama featuring the always priceless, highly versatile team of Tracy and Hepburn. It is rather stagey and lacks the wit and zest of the pair's finest work, but it's a prime example of classy, Cinemascope late-1950s film-making. An additional plus is the performance of the wonderful Joan Blondell, familiar from so many of the Warner Brothers classics from the 1930s. Perhaps the highlight of the film is a brief but delightful scene which looks genuinely improvised, in which Tracy cracks up Hepburn and Blondell with some goofy horseplay, leaving them doubled up and snorting with laughter.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The one Tracy & Hepburn match where she gets the upper hand, 4 July 2004
By 
Amazon Customer (The Zenith City, Duluth, Minnesota) - See all my reviews
(HALL OF FAME REVIEWER)    (VINE VOICE)   
This 1957 film directed by Walter Lang was the eighth of the nine Tracy-Hepburn films and their first in color. Based on the play by William Marchant (which had starred Shirley Booth on Broadway), Katharine Hepburn plays Bunny Watson, a reference librarian who works for a television network. Bunny becomes quite concerned when she learns that the new computer being installed by Spencer Tracy's Richard Sumner is supposed to put her and the rest of her staff out of work. Gig Young has his standard role as the nice guy who ends up losing the girl in the end, while Joan Blondell, Dina Merrill and Sue Randall make up the rest of Bunny's brainy staff.
In terms of pairing Tracy and Hepburn "Desk Set" is certainly unique because it is the only film where she gets the upper hand at the end and he gets the comeuppance. Tracy is really nothing more than a misunderstood villain; his new toy is suppose to help the girls in the reference library not replace them. But none of this really matters because in the end it is clear than the women are a lot smarter than the machine (although they do get the baseball trivia answer wrong). The one priceless scene in the film is a roof top lunch between Tracy and Hepburn. He just has a few simple questions for her that turn out to be brainteasers, and Hepburn's character disposes of each and every challenge with an ease grace and guileless naiveté that is quite charming, while Tracy sinks lower and lower as she beats him at every turn. The rest of the film is fairly pedestrian as we wait for the expected happy endings for the computer and romantic plot lines.
After receiving Academy Award nominations for her work in "Summertime" and "The Rainmaker," Hepburn had made a film with Bob Hope that was totally butchered, the astonishingly unfunny film "The Iron Petticoat," and "Desk Set." It would be another two years before she made another film, although Spencer Tracy's failing health was as much if not more of a contributing factor as the sudden drop off in the quality of her films. Hepburn would turn to the stage and perform Shakespeare and then return to the screen with four consecutive Oscar nominated roles. Consequently, in retrospect, "Desk Set" clearly defines the end of a period in Hepburn's career. You can not help but look at the next two decades of her film career, where virtually every film is based on a play by a great dramatist (Tennessee Williams's "Suddenly Last Summer," Eugene O'Neill's "Long Day's Journey Into Night," Euripides's "Trojan Women," Edward Albee's "A Delicate Balance") and not think that this was very much a conscious effort by Hepburn in the wake of this particular fluff piece.
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5.0 out of 5 stars TRACY & HEPBURN "COMPLETE AND ABSOLUTELY DEFINITIVE.", 17 Mar. 2012
By 
Ken Barnes (Benfleet, Essex. U.K.) - See all my reviews
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It is said that opposites attract. This was never truer than in the teaming of Spencer Tracy and Katherine Hepburn. As people, their personalities were completely different and as actors, their styles were poles apart. Yet put them together on screen and you have cinematic magic of the highest order.

They were both great stars in their own right and certainly were not professionally dependent upon each other. Tracy, I would say, was the greater screen actor of the two. His performances had an unforced honesty. As director, George Stevens once put it "With Spence, everything happens behind his eyes."
Never once does he make a wrong move or an unnecessary gesture. He simply comes across as a believable human being. Hepburn, on the other hand, is more demonstrative and forceful - as she was in real life. She is possibly the most revered screen actress in the history of the screen. But, as great as her performances are, I always get the feeling that she is "On," that she is "Acting." With Tracy, it's just the opposite. You would never find him "Acting."
But neither of them ever had a more effective co-star. This relationship,of course, was more than professional and carried on into their private lives.
Off-screen, Tracy was a very unpredictable and complex individual with a very unsettled private life and a marriage that was anything but smooth. Hepburn remained his "rock" for over 25 years knowing that he would never seek a divorce from his wife. Although Tracy and Hepburn never lived together in perfect union, they were virtually inseparable.

For three reasons, I can do no less than give this collection five stars. Firstly, because it contains all nine of the films that Tracy and Hepburn made together ( Warner Brothers are to be congratualted for being able to get the different studios to co-operate in getting all of these films in one place and at such a reasonable price), Secondly, because it shows the versatility of these two stars in that the films cover a variety of moods and settings
( They are not all light comedies and a couple of them are quite dark in their subjects) and thirdly because the ten discs are so nicely packaged in a compact presentation that doesn't take up too much room on your shelf. ( Yes, TEN DISCS - the tenth being devoted to Katherine Hepburn's own tribute to her long friendship with Tracy and her admiration for his talent ).

The one slight drawback is that not all the films are in pristine condition "Woman Of The Year" - their first film together and one of the best in the set - displays speckles and occasional scratches. This, like one or two of the others, could have done with some restoration work. But these slight faults are not enough to spoil one's enjoyment or to make me withdraw the five-star rating. This,after all, is TRACY AND HEPBURN COMPLETE AND ABSOLUTELY DEFINITIVE. It just naturally belongs in every movie lover's collection. So what are you waiting for ? Don't hesitate-order it today.
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Desk Set [DVD] [1957]
Desk Set [DVD] [1957] by Walter Lang (DVD - 2001)
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