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Thursday, March 30, 2006

Desk to Desk

Today - and I kid you not - I am sitting at a desk, looking at pictures of desks.

Virtually all of these desks that I'm looking at pictures of are desks from Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer films of the 1930's and 1940's.

Why, here's a photograph of a desk right here - and the office surrounding it - from "Lovers Courageous" (1932), directed by MGM heavy-weight Robert Z. Leonard. It's a fine old desk this one, with a cigar box on it and a statue of someone who could be Confucius. Facing the desk is a wide and comfy leather chair, which would make me jumpy if I was a client sitting in that office. "What's the catch?" I would nervously wonder as the man behind the fine old desk handed me a cigar. In the corner of the room, tucked away as an afterthought, on a tiny afterthought of a table, is a typewriter, a steel and iron thing that looks like it came from somewhere under the hood of a World War II era jeep.

And here's another photo of a desk - in its environment - this time from "Emma" (1932), directed by used-car-salesman turned first-rate-director, Clarence Brown. This is a hard functional desk with nothing on its shiny surface but papers, an in-box, and a black standing telephone. A hat stand behind the desk seriously supports a wide fedora. On the frosted panes of the office door we can see - appearing in reverse to us - the word "Private". And on the wide frosted pane above the door the reason for all this efficient functionality is clear- also in reverse: "DISTRICT ATTORNEY".

And a third desk photo. This one is from "War Nurse" (1930), directed by Edgar Selwyn. The desk is large and serious, but not unattractive. Before being seconded to this austere room it might have been the centerpiece of a wealthy man's home study or library. It now supports a wire in-box, a black phone that looks like a miniature oil pump, and a clipboard, its clasped paper stack partially perused. A "modern" desk calendar in a decorative steel casing, sporting dials to change its numbers, faces the desk chair like the photo of a beloved spouse, or the icon of a local deity. The steel medicine cabinet on wheels, painted white, tries to hide behind a folding screen. The screen is covered with a repetitive abstract pattern that was an attempt to make it seem cheerful and less antiseptic, but the pattern is threatening and a little macabre - not unlike the comfy chair just to port of the desk which sports a pattern of crescent moons and stars floating inside cloudy circular shapes. This is probably a doctor's (or nurse's) office. It would be unfortunate if the professional in question were a psychiatrist.

Today I'm sitting at a desk, looking at pictures of desks, writing about pictures of desks.

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3 Comments:

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- By Anonymous Anonymous, at Fri Mar 31, 01:22:00 AM GMT+1  

Could be worse, you could be sitting at your desk spamming blogs.

Were you inspired by Kramer?

cheers
Dave.

- By Blogger Grubber, at Fri Mar 31, 01:48:00 AM GMT+1  

I do find myself often inspired by Kramer.

But in this instance of sitting at a desk looking at pictures of desks which appear in MGM films of desks while pretending to be a desk myself while being hunted by super-intelligent but malevolent aliens who have taken on the external forms of desks ...

... that was work-related.

- By Blogger Neal Romanek, at Fri Mar 31, 10:46:00 PM GMT+1  

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