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Just watching this segment was tiring. Bobby has so much pent up energy. That kid is really something. It’s also in this segment that we encounter one the first instances of product placement. You will notice Bobby’s hat has the logo of the New York Yankees (I think that’s the team). Also you’ll notice people all over Washington D.C. are drinking Coca-Cola. And if they aren’t drinking it you’ll see signs displaying the word “Coca-Cola”.
One thing you should know is that the actors Billy Gray and Michael Rennie never left the state of California. The city of Washington D.C. was filmed in part on the 20th Century external sound stages and on its studio back lot (now located in Century City California). A second unit did go to Washington to shoot background scenes. Film of the actors in the studio and of the Lincoln Memorial, and Arlington National Cemetery were blended together to create the effect they were in Washington.
Bobby takes Mr. Carpenter on a tour of the city that would make a tour guide blush. First stop was the Lincoln Memorial. Tourists are walking about as Mr. Carpenter reads the words of the Gettysburg Address. When Mr. Carpenter says “those were great words, spoken by a great man” Bobby looks at him like he had just heard of Abraham Lincoln. To add to Bobby’s confusion Mr. Carpenter says “That’s the kind of man I’d like to talk to”.
While Bobby is busy demolishing an ice cream cone Mr. Carpenter asks him some very important questions. When he asks who is the greatest man in America is Bobby responds “Gee — I don’t know… The space man, I guess”. The man from outer space smiles, then he rephrases the question. “I was speaking of earth men. I meant the greatest philosopher – the greatest thinker” Bobby still isn’t sure what Mr. Carpenter means. So he asks him “You mean the smartest man in the whole world?”. Mr. Carpenter knows he is finally near answer he seeks.”Well — Professor Barnhardt, I guess. He’s the greatest scientist in the world”. After a little more probing Mr. Carpenter learns Professor Barnhardt lives nearby, near where Bobby’s mother works. But the next stop on the agenda is the spaceship, and Bobby can barely contain himself.
Army engineers have erected a temporary structure to house Gort and the space ship. Mr. Carpenter can barely contain his amusement. Bobby is fascinated by Gort. “Boy, I’ll bet he’s strong. I bet he could knock down a whole building”. There is mild agreement from Mr. Carpenter, and amusement at the fact that the army hasn’t figured that out. Bobby turns his attention to the ship. He asks about its method of propulsion. Mr. Carpenter hazards a guess making sure it sounds like he’s not sure. Bobby wonders about its speed. Mr. Carpenter lowers his voice when he notices two men listening intently, and slowly getting closer. Mr. Carpenter loosely opens the subject of celestial mechanics when he notices the two men have come closer still. He stops talking altogether and glowers at the two men. “Keep goin’, Mister. He was fallin’ for it” they say. Irritated Mr. Carpenter take Bobby’s hand and leads him away from the two men who are now laughing out loud. As they walk away newspaper boys hawk the latest edition by shouting out the headlines. “Army put in charge!”. “Space man still at large!” In a few moments its a mob scene as people clamour to get the very latest edition. Bobby wonders aloud if anybody will ever catch the space man. Mr. Carpenter can’t help but offer his opinion. “I don’t know, Bobby. I’m inclined to doubt it”.
As they walk away Bobby asks a question related to one of Mr. Carpenters earlier answers. “Mr. Carpenter — what does velocity mean?”. The answer goes so far over Bobby’s head his eyes glaze over. Then he remarks “I’ll bet that’s the way Professor Barnhardt talks”. Mr. Carpenter then suggests that Bobby and he pay Professor Barnhardt a visit. Bobby pays Mr. Carpenter the ultimate compliment. “I like you, Mr. Carpenter. You’re a real screwball”.
When they arrive at Professor Barnhart’s house they walk right up to the front door and ring the doorbell. When nobody answers Bobby goes to the window and looks in. In an important looking room the is a blackboard with all sorts of equations on it. Bobby hasn’t a clue what its all about, but Mr. Carpenter says it’s a problem in celestial mechanics. He adds that he won’t solve it that way.
Bobby moves to another window for a better vantage point. Bobby comes to the conclusion that he wouldn’t have been able to see the Professor even if he was home. Dejected he turns away from the house and the locked French doors they’d been peering through. “If he’s that difficult to see, perhaps we ought to leave a calling card”says Mr. Carpenter. Bobby turns around and finds the French doors, which were locked, now open. Mr. Carpenter holds a piece of chalk and leaves large checkmarks on the board. Bobby then watches Mr. Carpenter write an equation just as mysterious as all the others. When the Professors secretary returns, she finds a tall man with a small boy in the Professors study. She announces herself by firing questions at the two at an almost break neck pace. “What are you doing in here? How dare you write on that blackboard! Don’t you realize the Professor has been working on that problem for weeks?”. Mr. Carpenter says that he and the boy simply came to visit the Professor. He points to the blackboard, and adds the Professor will soon have the solution. He write his name on a scrap of paper and hands to the secretary. “You might want to keep this.I think the professor will want to get in touch with me”. The secretary looks at the blackboard, and debates whether she should erase what the stranger has written. She picks up the eraser, glares at the blackboard, when Mr. Carpenter suddenly says “I wouldn’t erase that. The Professor needs it very badly”. He points at the blackboard.
Stay Tuned for part 5 !
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