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Desk Set [VHS]

4.6 out of 5 stars 661 customer reviews

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Product Details

  • Actors: Spencer Tracy, Katharine Hepburn, Gig Young, Joan Blondell, Dina Merrill
  • Directors: Walter Lang
  • Writers: Henry Ephron, Phoebe Ephron, William Marchant
  • Producers: Henry Ephron
  • Format: Closed-captioned, Color, HiFi Sound, NTSC
  • Rated:
    NR
    Not Rated
  • Number of tapes: 1
  • Studio: 20th Century Fox
  • VHS Release Date: January 1, 1998
  • Run Time: 103 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (661 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: 6301586034
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #204,375 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com

One of the later Spencer Tracy-Katharine Hepburn matchups, this time pitting efficiency expert--sorry, that's "methods engineer"--Richard Sumner (Tracy) against TV-network research whiz Bunny Watson (Hepburn) over adding a new-fangled computer--again, sorry, that's "electronic brain"--to her department, thereby threatening her and her colleagues' livelihoods. Gig Young appears as Bunny's beau, an ambitious network executive who strings her along and becomes apoplectic at the idea that she doesn't need him. But as always, it's Hepburn and Tracy's bickering-flirting that makes this such a winning enterprise--a lunch date that turns into an interrogation and their sly repartee during a Christmas party are a couple of the movie's hilarious highlights. Interestingly, what starts out as something of a technophobic exercise--Hepburn fears for her job, and a computer goes haywire--takes an abrupt turn (perhaps the IBM product placement had something to do with that). Briskly scripted by Henry and Phoebe Ephron (Nora and Delia's parents) from a play by William Marchant. --David Kronke

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By E. Hornaday on January 26, 2011
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
For classic film fans, it doesn't get any better than the films featuring Spencer Tracy and Katharine Hepburn, but the special magic was in the movies they starred in together.

This latest and greatest offering provides all of their movies in one package, two that haven't been released on DVD before. For fans who have been buying each of their films as they've been released, there is little reason to duplicate those purchases here, as the two remaining films are also now being released. This is, however, a wonderful boxed set for fans new to these amazing actors, or for others who only have one or two of their movies.

Tracy and Hepburn are truly iconic: their sparkle on screen was a chemistry that was not only acting but very, very real. They were a committed couple for decades, but because Tracy was married but separated, they never publicly acknowledged their relationship during his life time. Tracy was a Catholic back in the days when divorce was not an option, so he and his wife had a quiet separation, that was respected by the media, which never "outed" them. Hard to imagine in this day and age of the stalkarazzi!

In addition to their films, this boxed set includes a special tribute to Tracy that Hepburn made, in which she finally publicly discussed their private relationship. Hepburn only produced the film after Mrs. Tracy passed away, because she didn't want her to be embarrassed by the disclosure.

Hepburn describes when they first met, saying that she had made a quip to him about being taller than he was, to which he replied something like, "Don't worry, I'll cut you down to size.
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Format: DVD Verified Purchase
Hats off to Warner Brothers for making this set available, and at a great price. Only SEA OF GRASS and KEEPER OF THE FLAME are new to DVD. In fact, all of the other titles aren't even remastered, just ported over from previous DVD releases. The Kramer Collection edition of GUESS WHO'S COMING TO DINNER is presented, including all of its extras. Likewise, the Fox edition of DESK SET includes all of its extras. The previous Universal DVD release of STATE OF THE UNION, with no extras (as per original release) is also included. The "bonus" disc, THE SPENCER TRACY LEGACY: A TRIBUTE BY KATHERINE HEPBURN, is the same program previously paired with FURY on an early WB DVD.

For non-die-hard fans who own previous editions of these films, Warner has kindly released SEA OF GRASS and KEEPER OF THE FLAME separately. If you don't already have any of these films, this set is a great value.

As to the mention by a previous reviewer that these discs are not DVD-Rs, that is certainly true. BUT, don't be discouraged by WB's DVD-R Archive Collection titles. WB stands behind this format and will replace any disc that might become defective over time. Current DVD-R discs should last in excess of decades. I've had pressed DVDs go bad over time and NO DVD-Rs to do so. Please don't deprive yourself of WB's classic library because of a fear of the DVD-R techology. I'm afraid that it's the wave of the future, as many classic titles just don't sell in volume. Everybody these days wants to see horrid remakes of movies that were only made originally less than 20 years ago!
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Format: VHS Tape Verified Purchase
I hesitate to write this review, since "Desk Set" is not merely my favorite Hepburn-Tracy movie, but also my favorite movie. Moreover, it includes my favorite scene in the movies, the "scene on the roof." Hence, I ain't objective. The roof scene, in which Tracy gives Hepburn what is essentially an I.Q. test, and Hepburn aces it, is not merely brilliant Tracy/Hepburn (told you I was biased), but a classic example of the jousting that occurs when a very smart guy meets a very smart woman. Inevitably -- because this is Tracy and Hepburn -- Richard Sumner admires and, eventually, falls madly in love with Bunny Watson, who dumps her long-time, self-centered, unappreciative boyfriend in order to marry him.
Everything about this film is delightful, from Tracy's cautioning Hepburn, "Never assume!" before relating the famous "detective" problem (see title of this review), to the office jokes between the legal department and the librarians, the floating-island dessert, Tracy's bongo drums, and the rousing climax in which, as the new library computer spews out all 87 verses of the poem, "Curfew," instead of data about the island of Corfu (having been mis-programed by a female in god-forbid -- a suit), Hepburn theatrically recites the poem, rounding off each verse with a resounding, "Curfew will not ring tonight!"
"Should Bunny Watson marry Richard Sumner?" Tracy types into his computer. "I thought that you said that it couldn't evaluate?" asks Hepburn. "I programmed in the answer," Tracy responds.
So have I. This is a great movie: it has humor, romance, intelligence and wit. Love it. Buy it. Most importantly -- make the studio put it out in DVD.
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Format: VHS Tape
There are many cinematic moments I cherish, but one of my favorites has to be Katharine Hepburn murdering "Night and Day" to Spencer Tracy's bongo accompaniment in "Desk Set." The movie--about the love and war between computer expert Tracy and TV-network fact-checker Hepburn when she fears Tracy is trying to replace her department with a massive 1950s electronic brain--is the purest froth. But it never puts a foot wrong, and retains the same inspired level of delicate amusement throughout its running length--no easy achievement with farce. (The movie's "electronic brain" is in itself a hoot to behold for audiences in 2002!) In a way, "Desk Set" is an inversion of James Thurber's great comic story "The Catbird Seat," with the man instead of the woman as the efficiency expert and with love triumphing in the end (the latter a most un-Thurberish development). It's redundant by now to praise Tracy and Hepburn, the smoothest old pros in cinematic history; suffice it to say that the superb supporting cast--including Gig Young, Joan Blondell, Dina Merrill, and the nameless old lady who dithers wordlessly through the action--is a match for them.
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