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Desk Set Improvised Scene


Arteesto
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The scene where Spencer Tracy is leaving Katherine Hepburn's apartment with his hat pulled down....coupled with his goofy departure....always seemed like an ad-lib to me. My first hint of an ad-lib was that this goofy personna didn't fit with the button down characteristics of Spencer's character. Also Hepburn and Joan Blondell's laughter is genuine and uncontrolled.

I was coming here to ask if anyone else felt that this was an ad-lib.

I decided to check with Mr. Google first..and sure enough...it was an improvised scene:

Improvised Scene: Sumner is leaving Bunny's apartment, shortly after Mike leaves and Peg arrives, when Bunny and Sumner are recapping the afternoon's events for Peg. Tracy puts on the ruined shoes and grimaces as he tries to walk in them, which causes Bunny to laugh. He hobbles off stage and returns with his hat pulled down over his ears, his shirt dangling out of his pants, staggering as though drunk and talking crazy. This moment, including the women's hysterical laughter and Hepburn's literally falling out of her chair, is spontaneous and not in the script.
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Desk Set is a favorite in our household -- we watch it every year during Christmas season -- and I've always thought that that scene looked improvised.  Thanks for confirming!

I think the improvisation shows Spencer Tracy's instinctive understanding of the Sumner character, who's shown to be all business when it comes to work, but knows how to have fun at the right time, as he does at the office party.  While Sumner does wear a suit and tie at all times -- not unusual for a man in the 1950s working world -- I'd guess that a scientist like him would have a wardrobe designed to require as little thought as possible.  Can't you imagine Sumner having only three or four identical suits hanging in his closet, just so he can spend time thinking about EMERAC rather than what he's going to wear?  In fact, when he's later describing to Bunny how he and his fiance broke up during the war, he tells Bunny that the fiance, a model, would write to him about fashion trends.  "I don't exactly look like someone who's interested in women's fashions, do I?" he says.  "Not even in men's," Bunny replies.  He doesn't seem like someone who worries too much about his clothes.

With all of that in mind, it doesn't seem like much of a stretch for the good-humored Sumner, after a mostly relaxed dinner with Bunny, to stage a funny departure by disheveling his hat and clothes, and throwing out some funny lines.  It would have been hard for Bunny and Peg not to laugh spontaneously!

Desk Set doesn't seem to get mentioned as being among the best Tracy/Hepburn movies, but I think it's right up there.  It's one of those movies that I'm sorry to see end every time I watch it!

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Interesting info! I appreciate the efforts of TCM to get the only film Hepburn and Tracy made at Fox on the network quite a few times in recent years.

It's a funny little snapshot of a moment in time where we could still pretend a resourceful human who knows where to look could provide information more quickly and accurately than a super-computer. I love the idea of a whole business revolving around the idea that you could call and ask a trivial question to another human being. Makes me feel very nostalgic. But, of course, now there's Google.

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On 8/6/2018 at 2:13 PM, Arteesto said:

The scene where Spencer Tracy is leaving Katherine Hepburn's apartment with his hat pulled down....coupled with his goofy departure....always seemed like an ad-lib to me. My first hint of an ad-lib was that this goofy personna didn't fit with the button down characteristics of Spencer's character. Also Hepburn and Joan Blondell's laughter is genuine and uncontrolled.

I was coming here to ask if anyone else felt that this was an ad-lib.

I decided to check with Mr. Google first..and sure enough...it was an improvised scene:

Improvised Scene: Sumner is leaving Bunny's apartment, shortly after Mike leaves and Peg arrives, when Bunny and Sumner are recapping the afternoon's events for Peg. Tracy puts on the ruined shoes and grimaces as he tries to walk in them, which causes Bunny to laugh. He hobbles off stage and returns with his hat pulled down over his ears, his shirt dangling out of his pants, staggering as though drunk and talking crazy. This moment, including the women's hysterical laughter and Hepburn's literally falling out of her chair, is spontaneous and not in the script.
images.jpg.77b93f72083cb9d22d344867d6dad127.jpg

 

Good call! I would trust your prognostication powers over that John Edwards guy or any of the other supposed psychics on tv, Arteesto!

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On 8/6/2018 at 8:45 PM, sewhite2000 said:

Interesting info! I appreciate the efforts of TCM to get the only film Hepburn and Tracy made at Fox on the network quite a few times in recent years.

It's a funny little snapshot of a moment in time where we could still pretend a resourceful human who knows where to look could provide information more quickly and accurately than a super-computer. I love the idea of a whole business revolving around the idea that you could call and ask a trivial question to another human being. Makes me feel very nostalgic. But, of course, now there's Google.

Yeah, this must be why nobody got my joke the other day when the shuttle van I was driving back from Phoenix's Sky Harbor airport broke down along the Interstate.

While waiting for the next van coming north to pick up my stranded passenger, I called the driver of that next van and said loud enough into my cellphone for everyone in my van to hear..."Come in, Carparthia! What's your ETA?"

But NOPE, not a soul, not anyone in my van OR the other driver coming to our rescue had a freakin' clue what I was referencing.

(...oh what a waste this mind full of useless information I possess is sometimes, ya know) ;)

LOL

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OH, and for those around HERE who didn't catch my reference in the above story EITHER, just watch any of the following movies: A Night to Remember, The Unsinkable Molly Brown and/or any of the two Titanic flicks(okay, three I suppose if ya wanna include that Nazi Germany version), and towards the end of those movies your answer to this reference will be revealed.

;)

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21 hours ago, CaveGirl said:
On 8/6/2018 at 2:13 PM, Arteesto said:

 

Good call!

More like Perry Mason...something didn't quite fit here.

Tracy/Hepburn movies were always stylish-artistic-polished.

Spencer's goofy scene did not fit the template.

?

 

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18 hours ago, Dargo said:

Yeah, this must be why nobody got my joke the other day when the shuttle van I was driving back from Phoenix's Sky Harbor airport broke down along the Interstate.

While waiting for the next van coming north to pick up my stranded passenger, I called the driver of that next van and said loud enough into my cellphone for everyone in my van to hear..."Come in, Carparthia! What's your ETA?"

But NOPE, not a soul, not anyone in my van OR the other driver coming to our rescue had a freakin' clue what I was referencing.

(...oh what a waste this mind full of useless information I possess is sometimes, ya know) ;)

LOL

That's so funny! 

You probably felt like I did when watching a film in a theater, Woody Allen I think heard a noise outside and said "Hey, that might be Dick and Perry" and I let out a big guffaw, and then look around and nobody else is laughing and they all think I'm the nutty one.

Like who doesn't know of Dick Hickok and Perry Smith I'm thinking...

Enjoy your Party of One, Dargo!
 

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