Film And Theater Studies

Desk Set

            The film Desk Set is a comedy that revolves around on-off screen lovers Tracy and Hepburn. Bunny (Hepburn) who works in a television network strikes engineer Richard’s path by the intelligence and poise she infuses in her leadership skills. Richard is perplexed by Bunny’s ability to outdo the computers that have been brought in the TV network as machines for making work easier. The film’s main theme is the discussion on the impact of technological advancement on the roles of working men and women. Bunny is a representation of the threat that computers brought in the workplace. As the computer is Richard’s invention, he gives it a lot of attention theorizing it into a type of female. With a relationship underway, both females compete for Richard’s attention and love. Although at first Bunny fears that the computer may emerge the victor and thus replace her in the working place, she is able to prove that her analyzing prowess is superior to that of the computer.

This is Colatrella’s overlying argument that Bunny is able to prove women and technology in the workplace can only exist as complements but not substitutes. With the workplace war resolved, Bunny engages in another war with the computer when she becomes Mrs. Richards. This time though, she knows the computer is not a threat. The conclusion that women’s involvement with the machine is for the enhancement of the societal good highlights the shift of Hepburn’s identity from an independent woman that is brought out in the film by Bunny’s and Mike’s relationship. Before Richard and the computer showed up, Bunny is devoid of male dominion as she dates Mike for seven years with no serious attachments or plans. She is her own man and even turns down Mike’s marriage proposal. However, her character is compromised with her involvement with Richard that teaches her her place according to society, under a man.

In conclusion, this does not mean that her voice has been stripped off but what she actually needs to achieve as shown by the Richard-computer allegory. Her act of being attached to Richard and his computer to the point that the three share a home is symbolic of her view that both serve a significant role in her life. Therefore, the way forward here is to balance her work (computer) and family life (Richard) depicted by her allowance of both aspects in her life. Richard too by taking both females in his life shows that he also needs to balance his work and love life equally in the scene where he simultaneously repairs the computer whilst romancing Bunny. Hence, the Hepburn character is able to infuse the traditional role of a working woman.






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