Sunday, September 15, 2002

DESK SET (1957)

I'm pleased to report that I finally found a pairing of Katharine Hepburn and Spencer Tracy that I like. I pretty much hate WOMAN OF THE YEAR, don't much care for ADAM'S RIB or GUESS WHO'S COMING TO DINNER, and feel neutral about KEEPER OF THE FLAME. But I saw DESK SET the other night on AMC and enjoyed it (except for the terrible pan & scan print).

Tracy is an efficieny expert brought in to do some work in the reference library of a TV network. The reference librarians assume that whatever he's doing, it's a threat to their jobs; it turns out he's paving the way for a huge room-sized computer to be brought into the department and the women fear it's intended to replace them. Hepburn is the head librarian and she and the other librarians (including Joan Blondell) have a nice casual chemistry. Hepburn has been dating network exec Gig Young for years but the relationship's not going anywhere and she and Tracy begin to hit it off. They have a number of cute scenes together, including a causal lunch on a rooftop and a drunken Christmas party. Tracy does a good job at playing a 50's version of a computer geek, a little oblivious to what's going on around him. Neva Patterson is good as the "techie" who is brought in to run the computer; her demeanor reminded me of Bebe Neuwirth as Lilith in FRASIER. Given that it was made in 1957, I was surprised at the casual assumption that Hepburn & Young's relationship was an intimate one, despite they're not being married. The "surprise" ending involving the computer was nice. I think Tracy and Hepburn were perhaps just a bit too old for their parts, but this was still pretty much a delight all the way around.

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