What’s your favorite holiday movie?
Desk Set. Desk Set is a Katharine Hepburn-Spencer Tracy movie that was released in 1957. It’s not really about the holidays so much as it merely takes place during the holidays. In form, it’s a pretty straightforward romantic comedy. Tracy plays Richard Sumner, an engineer whose computer is about to be installed in a TV network’s New York-based research department, run by Hepburn’s Bunny Watson. There’s a sub-plot involving whether everyone in the research department will be replaced by technology. The atmosphere’s so light, though, that you can’t really be too concerned about that. Instead, you watch the romantic friction between the absentminded-but-brilliant Sumner and the not-at-all-absentminded-and-probably-more-brilliant Watson.
As I said, Desk Set takes place during the holiday season. There are Christmas decorations everywhere, and one pivotal scene takes place during the network’s raucous Christmas party—the kind of party where everyone is tipsy and flirting and cavorting. I’ve always wanted to work at an office with parties like that….
When I watched Desk Set a few nights ago (I watch it every December), I was struck by something different. Sumner and Watson are middle-aged. Middle-aged and single. Wow, I thought, Desk Set is a love story about never-married, middle-aged people. Today, I suppose, the couple would have to be much younger or, at least, in their 30s. Pathetic as it may be, Desk Set sort of gave hope to the loveless 40-year-old in me.
Katharine Hepburn Spencer Tracy?