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DESK SET ($15) is a personal favorite from my youth- a film that continually played broadcast television during the afternoons, in the days before trashy talk shows came to dominate the airwaves. Today, I look at DESK SET and see a lot of nostalgic charm surrounding its story of computers and office automation entering the workplace for the first time. Sure, the story seems dated in this day and age, but the movie remains a whole lot of fun, thanks to the presence of its legendary performers. Based upon a play by William Marchant, DESK SET stars Spencer Tracy and Katharine Hepburn in this light and frothy romantic tale, set inside the research department of a fictional television network.

Hepburn portrays department head Bunny Watson, who discovers that a high tech monkey wrench is about to be thrown into her well-oiled machine. That high tech monkey wrench comes in the form of efficiency expert/computer engineer Richard Sumner (Tracy), who will be installing the latest electronic brain into the research department. Since the story takes place in 1957, the entire research department expects to be replaced by the machine. Of course the fear of termination, doesnít stop romantic sparks from flying between Bunny and Richard, even though she has had a relationship with her boss, Mike Cutler (Gig Young), for the last seven years. The charming cast of DESK SET also features Joan Blondell, Dina Merrill and Sue Randall.

20th Century Fox Home Entertainment has made DESK SET available on DVD in a 2.35:1 wide screen presentation that has been enhanced for 16:9 displays. After having sat through pan and scan presentations of DESK SET all throughout my youth, this beautiful looking DVD really is a thrill- there is nothing like seeing a CinemaScope movie in its wide screen splendor. The film element used for the transfer is in excellent shape, displaying only very mild blemishes and just a smidge of perceivable grain. This transfer marks the sharpest and best-defined presentation of DESK SET that Iíve seen in the home venue. Colors reproduction is also quite impressive for this DeLuxe film- boasting stronger, more stable hues than Iíve seen at any time in the past. Opticals and fades are a little inconsistent, but it is what Iíve come to expect from films of this vintage. Blacks are right on the money, whites are clean and contrast is very good. Digital compression artifacts are never a cause for concern.

DESK SET comes with English Dolby Digital 2.0 monaural and stereo soundtrack options. Although the pseudo-stereo version will decode to surround, it actually plays better in two channels. In stereo, the soundtrack seems to have more breathing room and a bit more character than monaural. The amusing sound effects attached to the filmís behemoth computer work nicely across the forward soundstage, as does the soundtrackís musical content. Fidelity is more than respectable for a movie encroaching on its fiftieth anniversary. Both the stereo and monaural versions have been sonically scrubbed of excessive background his and surface noise. A Spanish language track is also encoded onto the DVD, as are English and Spanish subtitles. The basic interactive menus allow one access to the standard scene selection and set up features, as well as a running audio commentary with actress Dina Merrill and John Lee, a Movietone Newsreel, a still gallery, a theatrical trailer and bonus trailers for ALL ABOUT EVE, AN AFFAIR TO REMEMBER, THE GHOST AND MRS. MUIR and THE SEVEN-YEAR ITCH.

DESK SET is a delightful movie that features another memorable pairing of screen legends Spencer Tracy and Katharine Hepburn. As for the DVD, Fox has done a fine job with the filmís presentation- providing a very good-looking transfer and solid sound. If you are a fan of the film or its stars, then this is a DVD you will want to add to your collection.



Desk Set (1957)


DVD reviews are Copyright © 2004 THE CINEMA LASER and may not be copied or reprinted without the written consent of the publisher.
THE CINEMA LASER is written, edited and published by Derek M. Germano.



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