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PAPER MOON is one of those films which refuses to age or become dated,
because, as director Peter Bogdanovich claims, it was dated when it was
released. It has the look and presence of a film from the Golden Thirties
with the panache and style that could only come from the Golden Seventies.
That extraordinary decade when the Old Hollywood Studio Machine was being
rapidly replaced by the rise of the Artist Filmmaker, who were young,
and just out of film school. A wonderful period of flux when anything
and did happen. A seminal period in filmmaking where new artists were
making important new films, which would change Hollywood
PAPER MOON is outwardly a period road picture set in the mid 30s, about a
traveling man named Moze Pray (Ryan O'Neil) who will play any angle if it
means a couple of extra dollars in his pocket. As the story opens he
to escort the daughter of a now deceased lover to her Aunt in Missouri.
Slick Moze quickly meets his match in the half pint tough little Addie
Loggins (Ryan's real life daughter Tatum in her first role). No
tear jerker here, this is a great story which refuses to go down the
road of a father reunited with his lost little girl; we aren't even sure
it's really his daughter. Little Addie is tough as nails at every turn
a whole lot more savvy than Moze could ever be. At turn after turn she
outsmart and outmaneuver Moze in a way which is a sheer delight to watch.
Tatum O'Neil gives an Oscar caliber performance as little Addie, but why
was given a Best Supporting Actress award and not nominated for the Best
Actress category, one can only wonder. Madeline Kahn (What's Up Doc,
Blazing Saddles), in her second film ever also delivers the goods as Miss
Trixie Delight who meets up with the pair and sees her own angle.
is playing some angle in this film and we get to enjoy every minute of it.
Shot completely on locations in Kansas and Missouri PAPER MOON sparkles with a richness only capable in black and white. Cinematographer Lazlo Kovacs is a great camera artist and never better than PAPER MOON where he uses black and white, deep focus and those great long takes to its best advantage. To the untrained eye it will just appear very sharp, but look closely at each frame and notice that everything is in tack sharp focus from the closest object to far in the distance. This deep focus is very difficult to achieve correctly, especially in the night shots, but Kovacs does it so well it is seamless. Watch for the train station sequence where even the children playing in the background are razor sharp. This is a look that can only be achieved using black and white to its fullest potential. New filmmakers take notice. This is how it's supposed to be done. All this cinematic brilliance would be wasted were it not for the wonderful direction of Bogdanovich. In this his third film, he proves that he is a consummate filmmaker who knows how to move the actors and camera in perfect concert. His craftsmanship of each scene is unmistakable as he brings a fresh and very new approach using Hollywood tricks which are decades old. A lesser director might have used process shots and sets to tell the story, but not Bogdanovich. He shot the entire film in real locations to give it the look and feel of a real thirties road picture. You can almost smell the wide plains and feel the dust as it comes up to slap you in the face. Notice too how he never resorts to sentimentality to move the story along, it is told razor sharp and without tears. This, never more apparent than the final sequence where he pays off the film in grand style.
There is only one thing about this film which still baffles me. Why in the night time hotel sequence toward the end of the film were electric lights everywhere but inside the hotel lobby, which was lit entirely with kerosine lamps? Was it to give the look and feel of the period, or did the real location use them? Small point, but interesting. If, like myself, the last time you saw PAPER MOON was when it was released in 1973, see it again on DVD and be delighted all over again. The DVD transfer is marvelous and only serves to heighten its visual appeal. If you have only seen PAPER MOON on broadcast TV, do yourself a favor and see the new DVD for a pleasant surprise. Without the obligatory broadcast TV commercials, pan and scan and dialogue cuts this will appear like a new film seen the way it was supposed to be seen. And if you have NEVER seen PAPER MOON and harbor some prejudice against black and white films, please see this film. Any preconceived notions against this format will quickly dissolve as it takes you along for a rich ride with Addie and Moze in the only format it could - glorious black and white.
Paper Moon has to be one of the finest pieces of American cinema to grace the 70's. Bogdanovich's direction bares a strong resemblance to The Last Picture Show, but overall this film is much more satisfying and enjoyable. The Black and White photography gives the film a nostalgic beauty that perfectly complements the Depression-era it attempts to recreate. Also notable is the charming Jazz-based score, with a wonderful opening title track, reinforcing the film's charm. As good as the story, direction and music are however, the true stars of the film are the O'Neal twosome. Both bring forth their best performances of their careers, and share a chemistry on screen that only a father and daughter could. Ryan O'Neal brings forth a subtle charm as the wise-talking, but inept hustler Moses Pray. Tatum however, even upstages her father with what has to be the best youth performance in history. She is funny and moving when need be, and always charming, eliciting laughs many times based solely on her malleable facial expressions. Her show-stopping five minute shot, no matter how long it took to film, proves just how fully Tatum was able to embody little Addie Pray. The movie is always entertaining, with never a dull spot, with a strong supporting performance by Madeline Kahn to help keep things rolling during the middle. This is a true classic that should be seen by people of all ages, I can't recommend it enough!
Paper Moon is one hell of a movie. I saw this film as a 10 year old in 1973 and loved it then as I do now at 39. Set in Depression era Kansas, it is story of the relationship between Addie, a smart talking 7 year old, and Moses, a bible selling con man who might be her father. The on screen chemistry between Ryan and Tatum O'Neal is fantastic. Madeline Kahn is great as a side show floosey they pick up along the way and she almost steals the show! Filmed in Kansas and Missouri, director Peter Bogdonavich used local people in cameo roles which adds to the authentic feel of the film. Also to the director's credit, this film may be one the best to portray 1930's America. All in all, Paper Moon is full of great characters and a fine story line. On a personal note, I saw this film with my 90 year old grandmother and she laughed throughout the film and said it was one the best films she ever saw. That's not a bad recomendation coming from someone born in 1883!
Film directors of the 1970's had an obsession with older films of the
30's and 40's. The director of this movie is Peter Bogdonavich and he
really put together a masterpiece of nostalgic film making. Paper Moon
is a classic comedy drama, that resembles the films of John Ford or Sam
Wood. Ryan O' Neal in his best performance, stars as Moses pray a con
man who sells bibles to recent widows meets up with Addie Loggins
played by Academy Award Winner Tatum O'Neal who is wonderful. The
cinematography is beautifully crafted. The landscapes and roads of St.
Louis and other cities are so expertly filmed. The black and white
photography, would make todays audiences think this film was released
in 1933 not 30 years after in 1973. Now 32 years later this film holds
up and stands the test of time. I don't want to give too much away, I
am sure many of the readers here have seen it. The supporting cast is
great John Hillerman in 2 roles a bootlegger and his brother, who is a
sheriff. Then you have Randy Quaid and Burton Gilliam in smaller roles.
P.j. Johnson is hysterical as the maid to Miss Trixie Delight played
with such zest by th greatest comic actress of the 20th century the
late and great Madeline Kahn. She stole the film. She was nominated for
an Oscar for supporting actress and lost out to you know who. I think
she should have gotten it, because her role really was supporting and
also for a small role around 20 minutes with few close-ups she gave
such a tarnished performance. She makes you laugh so hard and yet is so
heartbreakingly touching in her big scene on the hill with Addie.
If this film was actually made in the 30's Moses could have been played by maybe James Stewart, James Cagney, Henry Fonda or John Garfied. Addie could have been played by Shirley Temple and Trixie maybe have been played by Sylvia Sidney, Betty Field or Ann Sheridan. But I don't think they could have played them any better than Ryan O'Neal, Tatum O'Neal and most especially Madeline Kahn.
If Hayes, Kansas, and thereabouts...were the perfect locations for
Peter Bogdonavich's classic "Paper Moon," then the film itself is the
perfect realization of those real places forever etched in celluloid.
Few times will you ever see a film so visually wedded to its locale and cinematic style. In a typical film, you might picture the presentation of the movie working in a number of ways, but in "Paper Moon," it will forever seem like it could only have been done this way...on location, in black and white, and photographed like moving Andrew Wyeth shots of Americana.
Tatum O' Neal is terrific and justifiably won an Oscar for her part, but Ryan is wonderful as well....funny in that exasperated manner that Bud Abbott is, and the quality goes right down to the smallest bit player in the cast.
A perfect film would have great acting, great visuals and utilization of music, a superb story and lines that have you repeating them for years. Welcome to "Paper Moon." I can't recommend this blend of comedy and drama enough. A modern classic.
As cute and sharp as it's 9-year-old star Tatum O'Neal, Paper Moon is a
bona-fide gem that says that, one way or another, we're all con
artists. The acting is wonderful (Ryan O'Neal was never better), the
cinematography is exceptional and it's to the eternal credit of
director Bogdanovich and his writer Alvin Sargeant that the caper never
sinks into mushiness. By avoiding the earnestness that pervades so many
Depression Era tales and perfectly balancing character with situation,
it rolls along so merrily that you don't realise how touching it is
until the very end.
Having (criminally) never seen Paper Moon before, I suspect that it must have had more than a passing influence on a great many other movies, including my all-time favourite Midnight Run. Watching it is an experience to be savoured and treasured, and one that I'm looking forward to repeating time and again.
I saw Paper Moon many years ago as a young girl and had just recently watched this again for the first time since. I found this film to be absolutely engaging and a pleasure to watch. Tatum O'Neal was absolutely wonderful as was Madeline Kahn. Her performance was priceless as "Trixie Delight". The scene with her "Trixie" as she's trying to cojole Tatum O'Neal's "Addie" to come back to the car and sit in the back, had me laughing so hard that I could hardly breathe! It was one of the most memorable scenes ever. Not just for the humor but how Madeline Kahn's Trixie was able to draw a certain compassion for her character and somewhat seedy lifestyle. I loved the whole film! A "must-see"!
True, TATUM O'NEIL won an Oscar for her role as Addie Pray in PAPER
MOON and fully deserved it. Her dad, RYAN O'NEIL must have been proud
of her but his only reward was a Golden Globe nomination.
The con artist and little girl theme had been used before in Damon Runyon's famous comedy "Little Miss Marker" with Shirley Temple and Adolphe Menjou. But here the twist is that the girl is just as much a con artist as the man--and that's the key that makes the film so much more palatable for 1970s audiences without getting too sentimental about it.
There's a real Depression-era feeling to the whole story, with some richly detailed panoramas of rural America and its citizens at that time in history. Peter Bogdanovich has done a commendable job in making sure that his authentic backgrounds illuminate an enchanting tale about two drifters who share an unusual partnership when it becomes clear to the man that the girl would be a valuable aid in his con work.
There's a bright supporting role by MADELINE KAHN as Trixie Delight, a stripper who tosses off some good one-liners, but it's the chemistry between Tatum and Ryan that turns this into the most satisfying "buddy" movie of the '70s.
Summing up: A treat not to be missed.
Environment is Frankenstein for situations gone bad, and, actions which become instigated for the wrong reason... Everyone in the movie is basically alright, just a little twisted, despite what side of the law they are masquerading under!!...The film, "Paper Moon", based on the book "Adie Pray", so succinctly accommodates the definition of a comedy by correlating to all of the diverse characteristics of human error!!Isn't it funny!! isn't it cute!! isn't it slightly sordid, and pretty illegal!! Most of all!! Isn't "Paper Moon" a film which initiates a compendium of some of the most creative types of humor you have ever seen in virtually any movie made whatsoever!!! To quote another movie ("A Funny Thing Happened To Me On The Way To The Forum") "Nothing with kings, nothing with crowns, bring on the LOVERS!! liars and clowns"..."Old situations, new complications, something for everyone it's Comedy" (Ryan O'Neal) "Comedy" (Tatum O'Neal) "Comedy" (Madeline Kahn) "Comedy" (John Hilerman) "Comedy" (Randy Quaid) TONIGHT!!!".. How devoutly we the movie audience will root for the underdog...Fathers and daughters are suppose to go to chocolate cake socials in the public school gymnasium together, they are not suppose to be swindling bootleggers, merchants, and well to do widows!!!!! ..The precarious camaraderie between Ryan and Tatum O'Neal resonates itself to whereby con games are a dangerous form of nefarious fun!! Their overall philosophy being: "Please understand that we are only human!" "Let us hasten to add" "Please understand that we are only human, and the country is in the middle of the Depression!!!" This movie is hilarious! If you are not laughing outwardly throughout the entire film, your eyes are smiling every minute of this incredibly funny film.. guaranteed!! The plot is very well developed in this movie, and, the acting, cinematography, and director, are all first rate with this comedy classic!! In my opinion, Ryan O'Neal has never been better, of course, I'm not a woman!! The role of the charming finagler by default, suits Ryan O'Neal perfectly!!! Tatum O'Neal has never been better!! Her role is such that even as young as Adie is, she realizes that situational survival necessitates pecuniary chicanery!!! The whole thirties genre with this movie is sensational!! "Paper Moon" is one of my favorite movies of all time, I even love the song!!...The title was conjured up as a result of Tatum giving Ryan a picture of herself sitting on a paper moon at a carnival...It is sort of a love by way of a kindred spirit..There is love through marriage! There is love through family and friendship bonds!! There is love through sexual encounters! This love, however, is predicated on the parlayed premise of "Hey! Don't we make a great team of cons, no one swindles people with more finesse than the two of us...Don't you think?".. In 1973, when this movie was released, it manufactured a tailor made invitation for the moviegoer to be empathetic with the thought patterns of a con man!! "Sting" came out that year too, and "Sting" won for best picture in 1973. The mercurial charm of a swindler, and, his wickedly clever wiles of debauchery, became a train of thought which garnered a fascinating charisma with the movie audience that year!! The director of the film, "Paper Moon" Peter Bogdanovich, sets his own standards for the definition of a great movie...He articulates an aspect of human nature whereby the characters in the movie are innately aware of their seedier side!!! They are cajoled by lucrative adversity, and thus, very susceptible to the yearnings of the proverbial larceny in the soul!! Bogdanovich evokes a bittersweet empathy for the performing actors in his movie, as well as the emotions of people in general, this is what makes him an excellent director!! "Paper Moon" is Bogdanovich's prize movie, mostly on account of it's artistic gratification!!! I am impressed!!! Like I said before, I loved this movie!!
Paper Moon (1973)
Utterly charmed and charming. The story of a father and daughter--the actor and actress O'Neal--echoes the story in the story of a man and a little girl on the road. Yes, they scam and cheat, but they do it with relative innocence. And they are perfectly adorable. The magic between the two is partly good writing, and partly the ease that the two actors already have (or pretend to have) together.
And it's filmed with nostalgic black and white clarity, perfect in a way for the Depression era it portrays, but much more alive and clean than the deep brooding intensity of a real Depression story such as the 1940 Grapes of Wrath. But Peter Bogdanovich is no John Ford, and this is a different kind of tale, with the 1930s as backdrop to a more modern kind of relationship. It has enough subtlety and laughs to make it a classic and a joy. Nothing obviously deep, but yet it sinks in farther than you think.
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