Paper Moon (1973) Poster

(1973)

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  • Paper Moon is based on the novel Addie Pray (1971) by American novelist Joe David Brown [1915-1976]. It was adapted for the screen by American screenwriter Alvin Sargent.

  • Those who have both seen the movie and read the novel report that the movie focuses on only a small part of the book. They recommend that, if you enjoyed the movie, you read the book for additional adventures shared by Addie [Tatum O'Neal] and Moze [Ryan O'Neal]. They also note that, if you read the book and then see the movie, you might be disappointed by how much was left out of the film.

  • The story goes that, when director Peter Bogdanovich was considering the music for the movie, he heard the 1933 song "It's Only a Paper Moon" by American composers Billy Rose, Yip Harburg, and Harold Arlen. When Bogdanovich shared the title with his good friend Orson Welles, Welles liked the title "Paper Moon" so much that he told him to forget making the movie and just release the title.

  • Well, they got the same jaw! The question is left unanswered in both the movie and the novel. Moses denies it, and Addie states that her mother was the wildest girl in her town and that Moses is one of three possible fathers for her. However, most viewers of the movie tend to believe that Moses is indeed Addie's father. In real life, Ryan O'Neal IS Tatum O'Neal's father. Her mother is actress Joanna Cook Moore.

  • Actually, there were two money tricks. The first one is performed at the shop where Moses is buying some ribbons for Addie. Addie performs it again at the carnival when she buys cotton candy. The trick goes like this. First, you buy something trivial, e.g., the ribbons for 15 cents, then you pay for it with a $5 bill. The clerk gives back the appropriate change ($4.85). You pocket the 85 cents, add another $1 bill to the remaining $4.00 and ask to exchange it for the $5 bill you just gave her. So far, an equal transaction. While the clerk still has the five $1 bills in her hand, you add to it the $5 bill that the clerk just gave you and ask for a $10 bill back for the five $1s + $5 you just gave her. Do the math (or, better yet, try it with real money), and you'll find that you come up $4.85 ahead.

    The second trick involves Moses going into a store and buying a tube of Ipana toothpaste and a pack of SenSens. He pays for it with $20, gets appropriate change, then leaves the store. Okay so far. Then Addie goes to the counter to purchase a bottle of perfume for 25 cents. She pays for it with a $5 bill and gets appropriate change ($4.75). Again, an equal transaction so far. As Addie prepares to leave the shop, however, she turns back and informs the clerk that she paid with a $20 bill. When the clerk balks, Addie begins to cry. The manager comes over, and Addie informs him that she paid with a $20 bill that was a birthday gift from her Aunt Helen in Wichita. She can prove it because Aunt Helen wrote "Happy Birthday Addie" on the face of the bill. The manager looks through the till and, sure enough, there is a $20 with "Happy Birthday Addie" written on it. He gives the $20 back to Addie, along with some candy. Addie leaves the store with $24.75 in her pocket, along with the perfume and the candy. And we all know who wrote "Happy Birthday Addie" on the $20 bill.

  • A theater is visible in the early diner scene advertising Steamboat Round the Bend (1935), suggesting that it is set in 1935.

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