Desk Set - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

Desk Set Reviews

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December 10, 2016
Tracy and Hepburn's most underrated collaboration. The move effortlessly through great dialogue, with some obvious improv. A lot of fun, should be considered a holiday classis (a lot of Christmas scenes).
June 23, 2016
Desk Set is an amazing film. It is about two extremely strong personalities clash over the computerization of a TV network's research department. Katherine Hepburn and Spencer Tracy give incredible performances. The screenplay is well written. Walter Lang did a great job directing this movie. I enjoyed watching this motion picture because of the humor and romance. Desk Set is a must see.
May 14, 2016
Loved the smart dialogue, loved Kate's wardrobe, love Kate and Spencer!
½ May 12, 2016
sweet! another lost review & rating-grrrr!
Antonius Block
Super Reviewer
½ April 28, 2016
The script is clever, not great, the plot is cute, but not amazing, and the ending is predictable - but I like it anyway, and I've seen it several times over my life. For one thing, I've always liked the rooftop scene, where Spencer Tracy gives Katherine Hepburn a little intelligence test, complete with tricky riddles and difficult recall problems, and she effortlessly nails it, much to his surprise. She works phones with three other women in a reference library, the sort that people called back in the day pre-Internet, pre-Google, with questions ranging from the simple to the obscure. He's the inventor of the EMERAC, a computer or "electronic brain" as they put it, which threatens to take their jobs. Naturally, there is a question of her abilities vs. the computer's. On that note, it's fun to see the massive size of this computer and how it works in the movie, which aside from being a little silly, reflects how they were viewed in 1957. Oh, if only they could have known just how much computers would evolve, and change the world.

The movie is refined and any age could watch it, but it does bring a smile to see various inappropriate behavior in the office, culminating in a pretty raucous Christmas party. I have to say, it's also great to see three of the main actors at ages you don't see much in these types of roles - Tracy (57), Hepburn (50), and Joan Blondell (51), who I've also been enjoying lately in her pre-Code roles from the early 1930's. I wish there were more movies like this! All three actors are a joy to watch.
January 25, 2016
An efficiency expert is brought in to computerize the research department of a TV network, and he tries to create something like Google. For Tracy and Hepburn, this was the eighth pairing over a 16-year period, but they would not collaborate again until "Guess Who's Coming to Dinner" ten years later. Here the two stars are charming, displaying terrific chemistry as they engage in witty banter about this and that. The film offers an interesting peak at office etiquette in the 1950s, when things were more lax and political correctness was not in the vocabulary. The good supporting cast features Blondell and Merrill (film debut) as Hepburn's co-workers.
½ December 27, 2015
This falls a little bit on the slap-sticky end of the Tracy / Hepburn spectrum for my liking, but it's still fun to watch their chemistry as they go head-to-head about whether Hepburn's brain as an ace researcher can outsmart a new-fangled computer system. Guess who comes out on top...
½ December 22, 2015
they were wayyyyyy too old for these roles,
½ November 8, 2015
The eighth (and penultimate) Tracy and Hepburn film is good leisurely fun, but it's also the weakest of their pairings.
½ November 4, 2015
Hepburn and Tracey show no less than utter perfection once more in this fun and cute film. The dialogue and story is as witty and charming as ever and the acting the best Hollywood can offer. My only complaint is that it moves through the story too fast without giving us a chance to fully fall for these couples.
August 17, 2015
Always loved this film, a little-seen gem with two film acting heavyweights, a light but witty script and a strong supporting cast. Tracy and Hepburn add a glow of perfection to any vehicle they grace.
July 16, 2015
Really cute and good and not just because I'm a librarian and Kate Hepburn plays one in this movie. It's just a well done romantic comedy. The plot is very relevant to society today -- making life more efficient with technology but getting too caught up in it neglects the importance of the human element. I will likely watch this again and again.
June 17, 2015
Esta deliciosa comedia romántica se ubica en una oficina de referencias en las que unas mujeres (incluyendo a Katharine Hepburn) que trabajan en una oficina de referencias telefónicas (sí señor, referencias telefónicas) se encuentran en peligro de ser reemplazadas por un gigantesco computador IBM (cortesía de Spencer Tracy). ¡Cómo pasa el tiempo!
½ May 27, 2015
"Desk Set" is a middle-of-the-road romantic comedy, a love story that finds its fifty plus-year-old actors fascinated by feelings they had given up on pursuing years ago. The romance in "Desk Set" is I had given up on marriage until now love, I love you but I like you more love, you saved me from a mid-life crisis love, not cheapened studio fare obsessed with the courtship of a fresh-faced blonde bombshell and a Robert Cummings lookalike.
It's impossible not to admire the screen repartee perfected by Katharine Hepburn and Spencer Tracy. Bogie and Bacall could cause an audience member to spontaneously combust with a cigarette lit make-out session; Garbo and Gilbert could start a house fire just by glancing at each other. Not Hepburn and Tracy. Though real-life lovers, their nine films together were never defined by sexual chemistry; never an issue was a will-they-or-won't they hot and heavy love scene. If anything romantic occurs between the two, they first must size each other up, figure out the other's IQ. Maybe they will find the time to peck the other on the cheek in spite of repressed affection, but partaking in particularly witty conversation is much more fruitful than tiresome romance.
"Desk Set" is their most underrated hour; most favor 1949's wonderful "Adam's Rib" or 1942's "Woman of the Year" (whose popularity I am still perplexed by). Released in 1957, there is more studio flavor than usual, lavish CinemaScope photography having something to do with it -but a dexterity akin to "Designing Woman" is becoming for the two aged stars. The loud colors of the atmosphere, along with energy abundant dialogue, only reflect the pair's million-miles-a-minute personalities. We find comfort in seeing them together, relishing each other's company at the hands of a budget happy studio.
Hepburn plays Bunny Watson, the head honcho of a TV network's research department. Knowledge hungry individuals call on an hourly basis, loaded with statistically minded questions. Bunny and her female associates, hardly breaking a nail, are almost human computers, able to recite obscure factual evidence as if it were a golden memory from their childhood.
Problems arise when Richard Sumner (Spencer Tracy) arrives on the scene. An efficiency expert hoping to increase productivity in the research department, Richard hopes to eventually replace Bunny and her associates with a supercomputer. He doesn't make this quite clear right away, though; he instead inserts himself in the area, analyzing every moment, only slightly hinting at his ulterior motive. It doesn't take much time for a relationship to develop between Richard and Bunny, two lonelyhearts who never had the time, or the drive, to distract themselves with marriage. If only Bunny's longtime boyfriend (Gig Young), who hardly has plans for the future, would stop getting in the way!
"Desk Set"'s premise is among the most dated (just take a look at that computer!) of the 1950s, but its charm has hardly faltered - in some ways, it has gotten better with age, as though its best characteristics were thrown into the air, its confetti exploding over our cynical hearts. Not much imagination is put into the direction or the set design - most of the film is locked in one setting - but Hepburn and Tracy kill (as does their always welcome co-star Joan Blondell), and the screenplay, written by husband and wife team Henry and Phoebe Ephron, positively glides with its seamless wit. It's all very lightweight and it's all very busy, but "Desk Set" is a shining fixture in the Hepburn/Tracy canon.
January 25, 2015
I get a lot of pleasure from watching this movie. It has a fairly simple plot, fun characters, good dialogue, and the whole thing is light, breezy, and totally enjoyable. It's a family favorite we pull out and watch several times a year.
October 5, 2014
I really enjoyed this one, the chemistry between Tracy and Hepburn is very evident in this, their 8th of 9 films together. I though it moved along well and had a lot of laughs. I can't think of who of "today's" stars can do what Tracy and Hepburn did, which is why is fun watching classics like this. A must for classic film fans!
½ June 26, 2014
What seemed like a ridiculous story at the time, about a computer with a mind of its own, has become surprisingly more relevant than the day it was made. Were it shot today, it would be Tracy and Hepburn vs Siri. A delightful comedy featuring two stars at their best and some very funny Ephron family dialogue.
½ January 31, 2014
Not only are the leads way too old, but the story's not very memorable.
½ December 18, 2013
I don't like cats. I like men and so do you.

Bunny Watson dates a reporter and has worked in a television broadcast research department for years. She has been waiting for her boyfriend to propose to her for over seven years, but he doesn't seem to be moving in that direction. Richard Sumner is an engineer that has been assigned to computerize Bunny's department to save time and reduce resources. Bunny will stop at nothing to make life difficult for Richard but she may fall in love in the process.

"You don't care if you impress people or not, do you?"
"Wait till you get my bill. You'll be impressed."

Walter Lang, director of The King and I (1956), The Little Princess (1939), State Fair, There's No Business like Show Business, Coney Island, Greenwich Village, Tin Pan Alley, and The Ladybird, delivers Desk Set. The storyline for this picture is just okay but the character development and dialogue is excellent. The acting is first rate and the cast includes Spencer Tracy, Katherine Hepburn, Gig Young, Joan Blondell, and Dina Merrill.

"There's something about the way you wear that pencil in your hair that screams money."

I DVR most of Spencer Tracy's pictures because he has an amazing way of displaying grit and charm within the same character. It's funny how he portrays the loving, carefree old man in a way that seems to be relatable to someone in anyone's life. He always seems like a cool guy and his chemistry with Katherine Hepburn is legendary within the industry (they made several movies together). Overall, this isn't Tracy's or Hepburn's best film, but it is above average and entertaining.

"I don't understand what you're saying but it sounds great."

Grade: B-
½ March 11, 2013
This is a highly underrated movie that is in fact a vehicle for the two stars, the dialogue is witty and sharp - and for me at least, seems to be very relevant: I too work in a huge corporation, but my work environment could be Desk Set 2 (the computers have already pervaded our life). The costumes are brilliant: excellent '50s elegance!
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