Desk Set: Love is around the desk

Release Date : March 2, 1957
Genres: Comedy, Romance
Duration: 1h 43m
Rating: 2.9/5
Director Walter Lang
WriterPhoebe Ephron , Henry Ephron
William Marchant(based on the play written by)
Produced byHenry Ephron
StarsSpencer Tracy, Katharine Hepburn, Gig Young
Cinematography              Leon Shamroy
Edited by             Robert L. Simpson
Music by              Cyril J. Mockridge
Production Design byMaurice Ransford, Lyle R. Wheeler
Production companies20th Century Fox

Richard Sumner: Caroline was a model. Five feet ten in her stockinged feet.

Bunny Watson: You had occasion to measure her?

Richard Sumner: Among other things, yes, yes.

What is it about

The movie is about an efficiency expert, Richard Sumner (Spencer Tracy) with a mandate to install his computer machine EMARAC, in a division headed by an experienced and able manager, Bunny Watson (Katharine Hepburn). His initial thoughts about women, are shattered in the first lunch meeting at the top of the building. And he falls in love with her. But there is a problem. She is already in a relationship with another guy, her boss and an upwardly mobile guy.

Will EMARAC create problems as the staff thinks it would? Will Mr.Sumner succeed in both this personal and professional missions?

Desk Set answers these in a humorous and a mature fashion.

Thumbs up

Lead Cast
Sharp Writing
Production Design

Thumbs down

Slapstick towards the end.
A hurried climax

Final verdict
Overall, a good film for old movie lovers, exploring themes that are relevant even today.

Management Concepts/ Lessons/ References

“Don’t judge a book by its cover.”
English idiom

“Machines Do More, So That Man Can Do Less.”
― ENIAC (1945) machine slogan

The movie presents a few interesting perspectives that are relevant even today.

  • The perception of women, especially well dressed and fashionable (as portrayed by Katharine Hepburn, interestingly the blu-ray had a news item about a fashion launch around the movie).
  • The trepidation towards modern technologies, during its various cycles like computerization, internet and now AI etc 

The theme of the heroine in a hopeless relationship is portrayed in several films like The Apartment, The Terminal etc, but in Desk Set, both are equally independent and intelligent.

It would be interesting to see a reverse story of this…with the efficiency expert being a woman.


Apparently the sounds created for the machine in this movie were later used for movies like ‘Fantastic Voyage’

Norma Rae: An idea whose time has come

Release Date : March 2, 1979
Genres: Drama
Duration: 1h 54m
Rating: 3/5
Director Martin Ritt
WriterIrving Ravetch 
Harriet Frank Jr.
Produced byTamara Asseyev, Alexandra Rose
StarsSally Field, Ron Leibman, Beau Bridges,
Pat Hingle, Barbara Baxley
Cinematography              John A Alanzo
Edited by             Sidney levin
Music by              David Shire
Production Design by
Production companies20th Century Fox

Norma Rae Webster: Who’s this? Dylan Thomas?

Reuben Warshowsky: He was a poet. A genius and a drunk.

What is it about

In a small town in North Carolina, Norma Rae (Sally Field) is born in a working class family and all she knows to earn for her livelihood is by working in the local textile mill. Her free spirit gets her into quite few problems but the biggest of all comes knocking in the form of Reuben Warshowsky (Ron Liebman) who asks her help in setting up a trade union for the mill workers. She wants to redeem herself from being called a trash for working in the mill and having kids out of wedlock, and also create better conditions for her children if they decide to work for the mill at sometime in their lives.

Will she succeed in her mission?

Thumbs up

Sally Field
Uplifting tale

Thumbs down

Final verdict

A feel good movie with terrific performances, keeps you engaged throughout.

Management Concepts/ Lessons/ References

“If they answer not to thy call, walk alone,
If they are afraid and cower mutely facing the wall, O unlucky one,
open thy mind and speak out alone.”
Ekla Chalo, Rabindranth Tagore

“Enlighten the people generally, and tyranny and opressions of the body and mind will vanish like evil spirits at the dawn of day.”
― Thomas Jefferson

Jesse James: The outlaw

Release Date : January 27, 1939
Genres: Western, Drama
Duration: 1h 46m
Rating: 3/5
Director Henry King
WriterNunnally Johnson
Produced byDarryl F. Zanuck, Nunnally Johnson
StarsTryrone Power, Henry Fonda, Nancy Kelly, Randolph Scott
Cinematography              George Barnes, W. Howard Greene
Edited by             Barbara McLean
Music by              Louis Silvers
Production Design by
Production companies20th Century Fox

Major Rufus Cobb: [standing over Mrs. Samuel’s body] There’s no use. She’s dead. This is bad! Mighty bad! I’m sure sorry!

Barshee: Well, I’m sorry too!

Major Rufus Cobb: Oh, I wasn’t talking about her. She’s gone. It’s you I’m sorry fer.

What is it about

Railroad agents evict the James brothers from their farm and kill their mother. In order to avenge their mother’s death, Jesse and Frank set out to rob banks and trains.

Thumbs up

Western setting
Lead Cast

Thumbs down

Final verdict

A good watch for old movie lovers, especially for the western aficionados. Probably one of the first outlaw films, a wronged common man forced to take law in his own hands.

Management Concepts/ Lessons/ References

Nobody is a villain in their own story. We’re all the heroes of our own stories.

–George R. R. Martin