Monday, February 16, 2015

Movie Matinee Monday: Desk Set (1957)

Today I have for you a lovely Katharine Hepburn and Spencer Tracy film, directed by Walter Lang (who also directed The King and I).

My opinions on the poster:

I like the vintage-style drawings.  Is it just me who feels that the big drawing of Kate and Spence kind of reminds you of a Rodgers and Hammerstein poster?

The stars:

Katharine Hepburn ~ as Bunny Watson
Spencer Tracy ~ as Richard Sumner
Gig Young ~ as Mike Cutler
Joan Blondell ~ as Peg Costello

The critic's opinions:
3.5/5 stars

It's a fairly traditional storyline at it's root: girl has a long "sort-of-engagement, but not really", and then meets another guy and falls in love.  The unique factor of this motion picture lies in it's research department of a television station setting.  Richard Sumner is on assignment: to install one of his smart computers (EMERAC) in the research library.  But he's ordered not to tell any of the research employees why he is there, and so all of the employees think they are being fired....and replaced by the said computer!!  At a few points the plot slows down considerably, and you wonder when it will pick up again.  I couldn't help but think that the huge computer in the film reminds me of IRAC in the 1970s Wonder Woman television show.  I love movies set in a business/professional setting, so there's that too.  Bunny is no idiot in this film.  She's practically a walking dictionary, able to recite off anything someone asks her, whether it's the amount of trees on Earth or the names of Santa's reindeer.  She's a smart woman, and I love her character.  Sumner originally thinks she's some kind of idiot, and gives her a complicated critical thinking test.....and she passes at 100%, and even answers spinoff questions that weren't on the test!  I was happy to see Joan Blondell in this film; she's best known as a 'blonde bombshell' actress of the 1930s, but she was wonderful in this.  She's one of Bunny's best friends, and gives her advice frequently.  The wide range of CinemaScope is perhaps a bit too much for this film; the only reason I'm glad it's so wide is so the viewers can see the whole library (I love it!). A few shots seem a bit stretched the actors or actresses are positioned as far away apart from each other as possible without looking ridiculous.  But, overall, Lang does a good job of filling the wide scope, so kudos to him for that.

The bottom line:

A wonderful under appreciated classic.  Great watch, if even just to see Joan Blondell in one of her later roles. I love practically any Tracy/Hepburn film, so it didn't take much for this movie to worm it's way into my heart.

My favorite film moments {I try to stay spoiler-free}:

~ When the giant computer goes crazy and starts spitting paper everywhere

~ When a new employee is brought in to manage the computer....she's completely annoying and ridiculous.

~ Bunny's critical thinking test: she positively aces it!!

~ The Christmas office party; 1950s style!

~ The ending......see it yourself to see why I love it so! :-)



Movie trailer:


Ta-ta, dahlings!!



Phyl said...

I have only seen two Tracy/Hepburn movies so far - "Adam's Rib" (which got a little on my nerves with the whole feminist angle) and "Pat and Mike" which I enjoyed much better. It was so cool to see Babe Didrickson in it!

Pure Golden said...

Hello again, Phyl!
Thank you so much for your comments.:-)
It is true that Adam's Rib, despite my quite enjoying the film, went a tad overboard with the feminist angle. Pat and Mike sounds fun; I'm seen bits and pieces of it, but have never seen the entire thing. Thank you for reminding me to see it.