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Desk Set (1957)

Approved  |   |  Comedy, Romance  |  2 August 1957 (West Germany)
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Ratings: 7.3/10 from 5,218 users  
Reviews: 84 user | 40 critic

Two extremely strong personalities clash over the computerization of a TV network's research department.



(screenplay), (screenplay), 1 more credit »
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Complete credited cast:
Mike Cutler
Sylvia Blair
Ruthie Saylor
Miss Warriner
Harry Ellerbe ...
Nicholas Joy ...
Mr. Azae
Diane Jergens ...
Merry Anders ...
Ida Moore ...
Old Lady
Rachel Stephens ...


The mysterious man hanging about at the research department of a big TV network proves to be engineer Richard Sumner, who's been ordered to keep his real purpose secret: computerizing the office. Department head Bunny Watson, who knows everything, needs no computer to unmask Richard. The resulting battle of wits and witty dialogue pits Bunny's fear of losing her job against her dawning attraction to Richard. Written by Rod Crawford <puffinus@u.washington.edu>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Make the office a wonderful place to love in!


Comedy | Romance


Approved | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:





Release Date:

2 August 1957 (West Germany)  »

Also Known As:

Cosas de mujeres  »

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

| (Westrex Recording System)


Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


William Marchant based Bunny Watson's character on librarian Agnes E. Law, who had built up the CBS network's research library. See more »


During the X-mas party scene in the reference room, Spencer Tracy and Kathryn Hepburn are sitting upstairs between the shelves of books. She is holding a paper cup of champagne in her right hand. Her right thumb is above the half way point on the cup, then suddenly, the same thumb is much closer to the bottom of the cup. See more »


Ruthie Saylor: [Talking about Richard Sumner as he tape measures the office] Do you think we're being redecorated?
Sylvia Blair: Does he look like an interior decorator to you?
Peg Costello: No. He looks like one of those men who suddenly switched to vodka!
See more »

Crazy Credits

Opening credits: "The filmmakers gratefully acknowledge the cooperation and assistance of the International Business Machines Corporation." See more »


References Harvey (1950) See more »


Something's Gotta Give
Written by Johnny Mercer
See more »

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User Reviews

It's an issue of taste, here...I found it slow and stiff and quaint
28 July 2010 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

Desk Set (1957)

Because of their famous off-screen romance, Tracy and Hepburn make a famous and complex on-screen couple. And they did it often--this is the 8th of 9 films they shared. Here we are fresh into the color, widescreen era, not Technicolor in this case but a very nice, somewhat less sparkling looking competitor. There is a bright flat lighting to the sets that make it feel emotionally flat, not that this is a melodrama. It's a comedy, and it depends on timing and personality more than jokes or sight gags.

And it never quite clicks. There are "moments" that are funny, though I didn't laugh out loud until halfway through, in her well appointed apartment. And there are lots of stiff and even paltry stretches between the moments. If you love either actor, or both together, you'll love to watch them to see another piece to the presence they had over the years. But director Walter Lang (who is not known for a single "great" movie at all, unfortunately), pulls together a competent job. I'm not sure competent is enough in a dated period piece like this.

But for people interested in the period, though, and in the rise of the American business world internationally, and in the rise in IBM in particular (called by its full name still, International Business Machines), you'll be curious. I was. I don't think this is what you'd call an accurate depiction of a typical corporate business, but the architecture and the spaces and color schemes seem right. There is a reference to an early computer that many of you might miss, the EMERAC, which is an invention of the movie, but which is a blur of other early anagram computers ENIAC (1946) and UNIVAC (1951). IBM's own first computer was operating in 1953. The size of the computer toward the end of this plodding movie is actually pretty accurate, though the lights are fictional, sadly.

The two principle actors are a hair out of touch already with these times, miscast in the simplest terms, though that might be because they got fixed in the world's eye by their earlier movies, in black and white, which are much funnier. And warmer. Tracy in particular is a warm actor, easy going to an extreme, and Hepburn a charming one (to an extreme), and it is when they get to show their true selves that the movie works best.

7 of 9 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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