Jaynes Your Way

Here are my thoughts about films, life, and what not. If you don't like them I'll give your money back.

#5 I'll bet you write beautiful letters.

18 July, 2008

Desk Set (1957)

I know. I just railed against typical romantic comedies in an earlier post, but for some reason I love the simplicity and typical romanticism of “Desk Set.“ (I think the real question should be “Chris why are you watching so many girly movies?”) I started watching “Desk Set” because I love Spencer Tracy and Katherine Hepburn as a couple. They are the original Meg Ryan and Tom Hanks--sweet without being saccharine.

Richard Sumner (Tracy) is a efficiency expert brought in by Federal Broadcast Company to make their research department more modern. Sumner is the inventor of EMERAC, which is a nod to the original thinking machine the ENIAC. Bunny Wilson (Hepburn) is in charge of the research department—see any conflict a brewing? (Similar to the conflicts-of-interest-but-I’ll-love-you-anyway that made “You’ve got Mail” interesting.)

Hepburn really brings a sense of back off to the character. Her quick wit and incredible intelligence easily makes her a force to reckoned with, and to be admired, but be careful because she'll bite. Tracy plays the, of course, clueless man that realizes that he can love a woman more than a computer, but Bunny has been seeing a guy for seven-ish years, but he isn’t Mr. Right. Yet she still waits on him, but notices Sumner...and so forth.

The plot is just a vehicle so we can see the chemistry between Tracy and Hepburn, which was shared off screen as well--apparently. The comedy and issue of a machine replacing human workers are just bonuses. The latter is even more poignant in the midst of our current financial nightmare. Even if jobs come back to American soil, whose to say they wouldn't be replaced by machines or that companies could find a bank willing to back a loan?

I’ll go ahead and spoil this: the machine is no match for Hepburn, but I would still place a bet on her today.


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