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Desk Set is a comedy from 1957, starring legendary screen (and off-screen) couple, Katharine Hepburn and Spencer Tracy.  Despite looking somewhat dated, it still has plenty of crisp humour, great acting by the major and minor characters, and a storyline that has relevance today.

Hepburn is Bunny(!) Watson, who runs the research department of a television company, aided by her friends and colleagues Peg (Joan Blondell, who gives an excellent performance), Sylvia (Dina Merrill) and Ruthie (Sue Randall).  Spencer Tracy is Richard Sumner, a computer expert called in to modernise the department.  Despite their professional conflicts – and Bunny’s relationship with smarmy Mike Cutler  (Gig Young) Bunny and Richard are drawn to each other.

I really liked this film – far more than I expected to, in fact.  There were lots of genuinely funny moments, but the theme of the film – people scared of losing their job to time and money saving technology – was ahead of its time.

Hepburn and Tracy have terrific chemistry together – no doubt probably because of their real life relationship – and both are at the top of their game here.  Desk Set is not one of the more popular comedies featuring these two fine actors, and is not as well known as say, Adam’s Rib, but it is definitely worth checking out.  There are some real zingy one-liners, and it’s also nice to see Katharine Hepburn – who can sometimes seem a little hard – play a more relaxed, fun-loving character.  Spencer Tracy meanwhile, shows all the talent that made him a respected and esteemed actor.

Highly recommended for anyone wanting a feel-good movie that provides plenty of laughs!

Year of release: 1957

Director: Walter Lang

Producer: Henry Ephron

Writers: William Marchant (play), Phoebe Ephron, Henry Ephron

Main cast: Katharine Hepburn, Spencer Tracy, Gig Young, Joan Blondell, Sue Randall, Dina Merrill

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Set in 1941 (and made in 1959), this comedy is about the Captain (Cary Grant) of a newly commissioned submarine, which gets damaged.  The Captain insists that he can get it to a dockyard, despite the damage, but as most of his crew are sent elsewhere, he finds himself with a con-man Supplies Officer (Tony Curtis) and a group of army nurses, who prove to be a distraction to the crew.  And how on earth is he supposed to cope when the submarine is painted bright pink?!

Prior to watching this film, I had read various reviews which suggested that it was very sexist, and would probably offend many females viewing it nowadays.  Maybe because of this, I was expecting to find it offensive, but actually there was nothing here that I could imagine really bothering viewers, male or female.  Sure, there is the odd gag that could have come out of a Carry On film, but the jokes were all pretty harmless and played for laughs, not insults.

The film was very funny, with lots of visual and verbal jokes.  Cary Grant was perfect as the frustrated Captain Matt Sherman, who just wanted to get his vessel fixed so that he could continue his role in the war.  And had Tony Curtis not been playing opposite such a genuine professional, he would have stolen the entire movie, with his pitch-perfect portrayal of the loveable but incorrigible Lieutenant Nick Holden.  This film also reminds viewers of what a beautiful looking man Tony Curtis was.  The two lead actors have huge amounts of charisma.  Able support is provided by Dina Merrill, Joan O’Brien and Gavin MacLeod.

All in all, a very funny and entertaining movie, and one that is well worth watching, especially for fans of Cary Grant and/or Tony Curtis.

Year of release: 1959

Director: Blake Edwards

Writers: Stanley Shapiro, Maurice Richlin, Paul King, Joseph Stone

Main cast: Cary Grant, Tony Curtis, Dina Merrill, Joan O’Brien, Gavin MacLeod

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