Saturday, July 9, 2011
In his early years in Hollywood, Carpenter, a 6'3" string bean with experience in drama and musicals on stage, made his mark as an actor who sang "Abba Dabba Honeymoon" with Debbie Reynolds in Two Weeks With Love (1950) and for asking Spencer Tracy's frustrated mixologist in Father of the Bride (1950) for a coke. The films being shown this Sunday on TCM featured him in the lead. Only 24 years old when he arrived as a contract player at MGM, Carleton Carpenter never quite became the second Robert Walker that the studio seemed to be grooming him as during his years there, but he had his own quirky appeal that transcended some of his lesser films. His professional skills also enabled him to be an effective supporting cast member in dramatic films such as Vengeance Valley (1951), Take the High Ground (1953) and The Whistle at Eaton Falls (1951), (the latter under the direction of Robert Siodmak in one of his last American films). It was unfortunate that his arrival in Hollywood coincided with the decline of the studio system and as the greatest era of movie musicals was waning, since his talent never quite received an ideal showcase despite his evident talent. The B movies being shown tomorrow were the only two chances the rail thin talent had to take center stage, though he remained active in Hollywood for much of the decade, appearing in such memorable programs as The Shirley Temple Theatre (as "Tom, the Piper's Son"!) and The Rifleman.