Directed by Walter Lang, Desk Set is a very intelligent dramedy that works both as a drama and a comedy. I have watched this movie numerous times over the years, and I just love it. In my opinion, it is one of the best couplings of Katherine Hepburn and Spencer Tracy. I never tire of watching it.
Tracy plays a sort of efficient expert who is installing new computers into a TV network corporation’s operations. The extensive grapevine of the company, however, starts spreading the news that the computer means pink slips for the employees. From there, it just escalates big time with all kinds of terrific scenes that highlight the miscommunication.
One of my favorite scenes is when Tracy takes Hepburn to lunch. She’s expecting to go to a restaurant, but he takes her up to the building’s roof for sandwiches. It is pretty cold up there, too, but the scene is a delight. He asks her all kinds of IQ questions and naturally, she is way above average in responding to them. It is a smart scene, and it really sets the tone for the entire film.
Another fun part of the movie one is when it is raining out and Hepburn takes Tracy up to her apartment. It creates a scandalous situation that is just a riot. It is a bit daring for 1957 in the implications, but it is all quite innocent and is the heart of quite a bit of humor.
Gig Young, Dina Merrill, Sue Randall, and Joan Blondell co-star and all offer something positive to the film. This was actually Merrill’s first picture, and she does well. Blondell is her sassy self, providing just a hint of an edge to the characters. As was often the case, Young plays the proverbial nice guy who just is a bit late going to the fair, so to speak. I always feel sorry for him when he plays these secondary types of roles.
Desk Set is very entertaining and is delivered in a smart, adult way. It has some great humor to it, and it brushes on the beginning of the computer age. I just love it.