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
Premise
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

Analysis
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.

Tidbit.

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

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