Lively, entertaining reviews of, and essays on, old and newer films and everything relating to them, written by professional author William Schoell.

Thursday, January 3, 2008


DESK SET (1957). Director: Walter Lang.

Although it has generally been considered that this is not one of the better Katharine Hepburn/Spencer Tracy vehicles, it is actually a warm, funny, extremely well-acted and well-written comedy with heart and splendid performances. Not only is Hepburn at her most winning in this film, but she plays one of her most likable, admirable, entirely lovely characters, a head of a research department who longs desperately for her boyfriend (Gig Young) to marry her and shows real concern and kindness for the people who work under her, even the mail room boy (whom she advises in getting bonuses). Spencer Tracy is extremely charming and adept in his portrayal of a kind of efficiency expert who is helping to bring automation and computer services to the workplace via a big machine that will be used to answer research questions. Will Hepburn and her cohorts be out of a job? Hepburn worries over this particular question even as she draws closer to Tracy and Gig Young (finally) draws closer to her. At one point Joan Blondell, as one of Hepburn's colleagues, does a dead-on impression of Hepburn. The supporting cast is terrific, the pace is fast, and Hepburn is truly amazing. In one scene, when Gig Young comes by to cancel an engagement, she gets across her disappointment, hope, wearied anguish, and bewilderment over their relationship and her true placement in his life in telling fashion.

Verdict: Kate is Great! ***1/2.

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