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Desk Set (1957)

Approved | | Comedy, Romance | 2 August 1957 (West Germany)
2:17 | Trailer

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



(screenplay), (screenplay) | 1 more credit »
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The Desk Set (TV Movie 1958)
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Will a computer put the research department of a television company out of work?

Stars: Harvey Ashby, Thelma Barlow, Barbara Clegg


Complete credited cast:
... Richard Sumner
... Bunny Watson
... Mike Cutler
... Peg Costello
... Sylvia Blair
... Ruthie Saylor
... Miss Warriner
... Smithers
... Mr. Azae
... Alice
... Cathy
... Old Lady
... Receptionist


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

Production Co:

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

| (Westrex Recording System)


Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
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Did You Know?


The play on which the film is based was the result of research conducted in the research department of CBS. As seen in the film, there tended to be a bit of a family atmosphere there, largely because people from different departments would have lunch together at the first floor restaurant (which offered meals at the affordable price of $1). As described by Dorothy S. Boyle (one of the researchers hired by department founder Agnes Law, and inheritor of her position) they were delighted by the notion she, Agnes, and others were the models for an upcoming Broadway play. As for the gang-like atmosphere of the workers, this was seen in the nickname they gave the CBS building. CBS' chief rival was NBC, which was located at 30 Rockefeller Plaza and the Rockefeller building became known as "The Rock." The CBS building was so dark gray that it was almost black, so with a nod to NBC's building, and with a reference to the tense 1955 drama, Bad Day at Black Rock (1955) they started calling the CBS building "Black Rock." When they were having a tough day at work, the CBS workers would refer to it as a "Bad Day at Black Rock." See more »


Before Bunny Watson turns to ask Richard Sumner her question during the Christmas party, she puts the bottle on the desk, but in the next shot, she is holding it again. See more »


Sylvia Blair: What do you suppose it'll be like here next Christmas when we're gone? Do you think EMERAC will throw a party?
Ruthie Saylor: Oh, don't talk that way. It's bad luck to talk like that. It's Christmas!
Bunny Watson: It's Christmas.
Peg Costello: Well, if we do get canned, we won't be the only ones to lose our jobs because of a machine.
See more »

Crazy Credits

Opening credits are "printed" on computer paper by an IBM unit. See more »


Featured in 20th Century-Fox: The First 50 Years (1997) See more »


Night and Day
Written by Cole Porter
Sung by Katharine Hepburn at the Christmas Party
See more »

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User Reviews

Magnificent color palette and skillful acting. Great movie experience.
4 July 2011 | by See all my reviews

I watched this movie on You Tube and enjoyed it immensely. The fast wit in practically all the lines, the cleverness in the script, the utter elegance of all the women involved in it (even Joan Blondell, quite "developed" by then with several extra pounds), but specially Dina Merrill, absolutely exquisite in her (natural) ice-blond beauty, and Katherine Hepburn, with an unbelievably slender silhouette, all dressed, made up and coiffed to kill (modest employees with an average office job and complaining about their low salaries), changing outfits on practically every scene (and what outfits!!).

But that doesn't matter, it was escapist entertainment to the nth degree, so all that eye candy was completely acceptable, and so were the sets, that confronted with nowadays sets were like the Sistine Chapel Ceiling by Michelangelo.

When you consider that every single setting was painted cardboard you flip!!: The New York street with all that traffic and the heavy rain, the executive office, the girls office, later their office with the immense computer with all its lights and noises, the terrace of the skyscraper!! Fantastic sets!! and then the color palette for the whole movie.

Palette studied to the last detail, so pleasing to the eye in its entirety. Only one example: Hepburn gives Tracy a striped scarf, later on she wears the same scarf momentarily over a dress whose color matches to perfection those on the scarf. Unreal. And then last but not least, we appreciate the way these people interacted with such decent sentiments, so elegant, with such civilized maturity (so adult!!), that we instantly realize to have lost a lot comparing that generation to the present one.

The acting is sublime, by all of them, from Hepburn to the messenger boy. What a sensational movie! Top entertainment.

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