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A terrific film on all levels
grolt8 February 2002
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!
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PAPER MOON refuses to cry.
ethor@inreach.com14 September 2003
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, eager and just out of film school. A wonderful period of flux when anything could and did happen. A seminal period in filmmaking where new artists were making important new films, which would change Hollywood forever. 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 agrees 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 sentimental tear jerker here, this is a great story which refuses to go down the obvious 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 and a whole lot more savvy than Moze could ever be. At turn after turn she will 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 she 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. Everyone 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.
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best father-daughter movie ever made
keithmanies29 December 2002
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!
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A Perfect Film
oceantracks29 September 2004
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.
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"Just this once let Miss Trixie sit up front with her big tits"
DommyCommy5712 February 2005
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.
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Enchanting Depression-era comedy...
Neil Doyle29 August 2006
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.
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What's not to like?
Elliott Noble26 November 2004
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.
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A "must-see"
CountessNatalya13 January 2005
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"!
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The Depression- The Good Guys Started it!!!
dataconflossmoor28 August 2005
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!!
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It seems slight at first, but with perfect finesse and beauty...a classic
secondtake23 July 2010
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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The Kid Stays In The Picture
Bill Slocum27 January 2016
A sunny charmer with clouds enough to darken the edges of the screen, "Paper Moon" presents us with an entertainment of equal parts wit and sentiment, an underdog story that delivered a real underdog outcome in the form of a historic Oscar win for nine-year- old Tatum O'Neal.

In the time of the Great Depression, a little girl named Addie (Tatum) is left abandoned by the death of her mother, a woman who hung around in bars and left Addie with a big mystery as far as the identity of her father is concerned. At her gravesite, a dodgy stranger named Moses (Ryan O'Neal) happens by to pay his respects, and is immediately recruited by the other mourners, who don't want to be burdened with the girl, with the assignment of delivering Addie to her next-of-kin.

"God works in mysterious ways," one of the mourners says, after Moses reluctantly accepts.

"Don't He now?" Moses replies.

God indeed may have some unfinished business with Moses Pray, a conman who uses the Good Book as his device for fleecing newly-made widows of a few bucks. Watching the O'Neals work their family chemistry for sparks and laughs while Moses, with unexpected help from Addie, works his scams, is great fun. A lingering question is whether Moses and Addie are in fact related; many in the movie point out their similar jawlines, but Moses refuses to accept the idea. Addie is more open to it. Clearly Moses for all his faults fills a hole in her life.

There was a time when Peter Bogdanovich could do no wrong as a director; here he presents us with an assured callback to 1930s- period sensibilities by employing a flat Kansas landscape and scenic design that suggests a combination of Norman Rockwell and Grant Wood, at once homey and vaguely grotesque. The story moves fast, the dialogue is crisp and believable, and the O'Neals' performances of such strong quality as to make you wonder why they so seldom impressed in other roles. The talent is there on the screen.

Tatum was the real surprise here; decades later, long after the flash of her career faded, it's hard not to be as bowled over by what she gives you as all those critics and movie-goers were so long ago. Avoiding the cutesiness of child actors, she plays her character as sharp-tongued and vinegary, with a hint of real beauty beneath the smudges. "Ain't she got a sweet little face, somehow," is the best anyone can manage in the way of compliments, but Addie don't need them. She just wants her 200 dollars, or "two hundra DOLLA" as she keeps putting it to Moses.

The two of them make such a pair I get annoyed when Madeline Kahn joins them for a time as a conniving, cheapjack vixen named Trixie. Unlike the O'Neals, Kahn is an actress I usually enjoy in anything, so why is she so duff to me here? Trixie is a one-note performance that grates on me; I can't wait for the Prays to leave her in their dust.

I did enjoy P. J. Johnson as Trixie's put-upon maid, Imogene. She adds some heart and gives Addie some company for some of the movie's best scenes. So too does a raft of supporting players, most of whom like Kahn must have been waiting for Mel Brooks' call-backs for "Blazing Saddles" at the time of this production.

Mostly, though, this is Tatum's film; it rises or falls with her and, as a result of her spry performance, rises quite impressively. Bogdanovich clearly gambled putting his promising career on her little shoulders; unlike later gambles of his this paid off spectacularly and yields dividends to this day.
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Bogdanovich's Affectionate Depression-Era Road Movie Boasts the O'Neals at Career Peaks
Ed Uyeshima10 March 2008
Nine-year-old Addie Loggins is the centerpiece of Peter Bogdanovich's affectionate 1973 comedy set during the depths of the Great Depression. The filmmaker was on a roll at the time as he made the coming-of-age saga, 1971's "The Last Picture Show", and the screwball throwback, 1972's "What's Up, Doc?", in quick succession. Cineaste that he is, Bogdanovich filmed this episodic, character-driven comedy deliberately in black and white, inspired by classics as diverse as Charlie Chaplin's "The Kid", Vittorio de Sica's "Bicycle Thieves" and even John Ford's "The Searchers". The result is charming if a bit overlong for the simple story being told. As the film opens in Kansas, Addie just lost her mother, and she is to be taken to live with relatives in Missouri. Enter traveling Bible salesman Moses Pray, a small-time grifter who bilks recent widows out of cash under the pretense that their late husbands had ordered personalized Bibles before their deaths. As a chronic womanizer, he knew Addie's free-living mother and promises to take her to her relatives after he extorts $200 from a local business owner.

The rest of the story is an entertaining road movie centered on the evolving relationship between Moses and Addie as she shows to have a greater gift for scams than he does. A tough-talking smoker who loves radio, Addie is a tomboy frequently mistaken for a boy, while Moses constantly resists his paternal feelings toward her even though they are kindred spirits. Complications occur first with the appearance of a tawdry carnival stripper named Trixie Delight, who threatens to come between Moses and Addie, and then with a bootlegger and his look-alike sheriff brother, who are in hot pursuit over a scam around crates of illegal whiskey. As Addie, Tatum O'Neal still has the distinction of being the youngest actor to win a competitive Oscar, and in her film debut, her unprecocious performance reflects refreshingly confident work from a child. Perhaps fearful that his daughter was stealing the movie, a well-founded fear it turns out, her father Ryan does some of his best screen work as Moses, better cast here than as bumbling musicologist Howard Bannister in "What's Up, Doc?".

As she proved with her hilarious portrayal of Howard's persnickety fiancée Eunice in "What's Up, Doc?", Madeline Kahn is an unparalleled scene-stealer as Trixie, especially as she tries to coax a belligerent Addie off a grassy hilltop. Just before peaking in Mel Brooks' farces and reunited with the elder O'Neal, Kahn shows what she can do to maximize less than half-hour of screen time. Almost as funny is the eye-rolling cynicism of P.J. Johnson as Trixie's indentured servant Imogene. The 2003 DVD has two substantial extras. First, Bogdanovich offers a full-length commentary full of his personal remembrances and sharing a deep well of cinematic knowledge. The second is Laurent Bouzereau's "The Making of Paper Moon", an exhaustive making-of featurette divided into three parts, which covers all aspects of the film's development and production and includes comments from Bogdanovich, his then-wife Polly Platt who did the production design, cinematographer László Kovács, and producer Frank Marshall.
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A singular masterpiece!
howyoodoon9 February 2017
It's difficult to watch this film with any impartiality, as it was one of the formative films of my childhood years. Seeing it now, over 40 years after it came out, I'm convinced it's one of the finest American films ever made. Many other viewers here have pointed out the main reasons for its greatness--so I'd like to shine a light on, perhaps, some of the less-credited components of the film's success. I'm calling them "Paper Moon's Unsung Heroes":

Unsung hero #1: There's been little mention here of the actor who truly anchors this film--and gives the finest performance of his career-- Ryan O'Neal. He delivers a fully-realized, multi-faceted performance, more than worthy of an Oscar nomination (if not a "win"), in my opinion-- and he received neither. Try watching Paper Moon with your eye on O'Neal pere, rather than his adorable, scene- stealing daughter. Firstly, of course, he was one of the handsomest actors of his era, which makes such an undertaking a painless effort. But watch the subtlety of his expressions, and his nuanced comic turns. For example, in the hotel scene, where he's having his breakfast, when Imogene comes down to tell him that 'Miss Trixie' is having her "ladies' time," his reaction, turning from concerned to mortified, as he rapidly sits back down, while dropping his voice by an THAT'S comedy! His comic delivery in his first big scene with Addie (the "diner scene") is also brilliant. In fact, I can't think of a single scene where he is not completely "true-to- character". In the hands of another actor, this deceptively difficult role could have been played as 'malevolent'. O'Neal's performance shows 'Moze' to be a lovable rascal who does what he has to do in order to survive during the Great Depression. Imagine, say, Jack Nicholson in the role...It would certainly have been a different film altogether. (Sidebar comment: I realize one shouldn't judge a film actor's performance with how they are 'off-screen'--but if what Tatum says about him in her books and interviews is true, O'Neal is not quite-as-lovable a rogue, off-screen. She claims that when the Oscar nominations were announced, she did sort of a "Nahh- nah-nah-nah-nahh," to him, as bratty 10-year-olds are known to do-- and he fully punched her in the face! Gulp. All four of his children are either addicts, alcoholics or in major therapy. But I digress).

The #2 "unsung hero(-ine) of this movie is the late, brilliant Polly Platt, Peter Bogdanovich's first wife (and soon-to-be-ex-wife, as he had already taken up with Cybill Shepard when this film was made). Ms. Platt designed the costumes and realized the whole "look" of the film, which Bogdanovich fully-credits her for. I can't think of any other American film of the last 50 years that so completely captures the 1930's in such a flawlessly realistic way. The attention to detail is staggering--look at any single "extra" in this film, and they are all absolutely spot-on correct to the look of that era (the hotel clerk in the 'bootlegger hotel,' with her perfect '30s "Marcelle wave" comes to mind.

Unsung hero #3: Gary Chason, who PERFECTLY cast this film, including several first-time actors (Tatum O'Neal, of well as Burton Gilliam, ("Floyd the Hotel Clerk"), P.J. Johnson (Imogene), among many others). I'm hard-pressed to think of another film--ever- -in which every single role is so perfectly-filled...and often by first-time actors!

Unsung hero #4: László Kovács, the brilliant cinematographer. Every single shot is so perfectly thought-out and realized. In the hands of a lesser-visionary, "Paper Moon" would certainly have been a lesser film than it is (and imagine if it had been shot in COLOR!).

FINALLY--he's certainly not "unsung"--but clearly, he's "under- sung": PETER BOGDANOVICH! This film is a work of sheer genius, and all roads lead back to him. I consider Paper Moon the crowning achievement of his career (with apologies to "Last Picture Show"). It's almost as if his career has followed the same "arc" as that of his great hero, mentor and friend, Orson Welles. Both of them had their greatest successes, straight out of the gate...and then were rather hung-out-to-dry by Hollywood, as if considered "passé". I keep waiting for the world to WAKE UP and realize Paper Moon is one of the absolute FINEST films in history--and should be lauded accordingly! Why is Peter Bogdanovich NOT still being given the opportunity to direct major Hollywood studio films?? The man is one of the true cinematic geniuses of our era. And yes, he is certainly a 'peer' of his hero, Mr. Welles. Could we please give him the reverence he deserves?

("Special Mention" to Tatum O'Neal, too! It seems to be "common wisdom" today, that she was simply some kind of "human puppet" for Bogdanovich to manipulate every word and movement of. I beg to differ, strongly. Some of her expressions and line deliveries are so singularly charming and individualistic--proving that she is clearly an innately-skilled and intuitive actress. This performance was no fluke. This girl/lady deserves more credit than she's given, and I say she absolutely deserved that Oscar...though it should have been for "Best Actress,"--with, of course, Madeline Kahn as "Best Supporting Actress"!).
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A Collaborative Labor Of Love
Jacob Rosen8 December 2014
Peter Bogdanovich's labor of love comes after his slavish (yet still enjoyable) homage to screwball comedies, "What's Up, Doc?". "Paper Moon", though, has a more honest feel. The collaborative contributions from everyone involved with Bogdanovich, from the sublime performances by Tatum O'Neal (very, very brave), Ryan O'Neal (his gift for comedy is genuine), Madeline Kahn (vulnerable and funny) and P.J. Johnson (stealing virtually every scene she's in), to the sharp cinematography by Laszlo Kovacs (everything is in deep focus), as well as Polly Platt's outstanding production design and the entertaining script by Alvin Sargent (based on Joe David Brown's novel "Addie Pray", unread) are a continual delight to movie lovers and film students alike. Bogdanovich brings a scholar's passion and precision to his Depression-era story about a con man who's consistently conned by his would-be eight year old (yet world-weary) daughter as they travel the Midwest and you can see the dedication in every shot, some takes of which are quite extended. The O'Neal father and daughter pairing is especially inspired: they bring out the best in each other and their hilarious, spontaneous rapport takes the film to another level; Bogdanovich uses their natural freshness as the film's centerpiece, and it's this freshness that allows him to veer off into sudden moments of seriousness that grounds the picture to the pathos of the era it portrays--it becomes real, accurate and graven even as it strives to entertain. A vital, focused masterpiece--on so many levels, it's what watching a movie is all about.
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Tremendously Entertaining
mrb198013 November 2014
Warning: Spoilers
Peter Bogdanovich and the cast struck gold with "Paper Moon" back in 1973. The story is by now familiar, with con man Moses Pray (Ryan O'Neal) and his real life daughter Tatum as Addie, traveling through the Midwest during the Great Depression. Always lightly entertaining, the film charmingly uses humor, drama, and poignant moments to provide a rewarding experience. John Hillerman, Madeline Kahn, and other cast members add to the film's charm, and the B&W photography is superb.

In 1973 Peter Bogdanovich was considered quite a wunderkind as a movie director. He had directed "The Last Picture Show" and "What's Up, Doc?" in the two previous years, and here he could do no wrong. However, after the bland "Daisy Miller" and the horrid "At Long Last Love" his reputation began a rapid decline from which it never recovered. He didn't stay on top very long, but I'm glad he stayed long enough to make "Paper Moon". Don't miss it.
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I know a woman who looks like a bullfrog but that don't mean she's the damn thing's mother.
Spikeopath1 February 2014
Utterly delightful. Father and daughter Ryan and Tatum O'Neal, under Peter Bogdanovich's superlative direction, produce one of the most affectingly warm and cunningly sly movies of the 1970s. Set in depression era America and beautifully photographed in pristine monochrome by Laszlo Kovacs, it's a period piece that refuses to get old, such is the deft imagery and sharpness of the screenplay.

Story essentially comes down to conman Moses Pray (R. O'Neal) hooking up with orphan Addie Loggins (T. O'Neal), who may or may not be his actual daughter. Addie proves to be a precocious live wire, not easily fooled and she smokes, cusses and is more than capable of pulling a con herself. After initial indignation, Moses comes to court Addie's strengths and they form a dynamic partnership as they travel through Kansas, pulling cons left right and centre and piling the money up. But can it last forever?

The chemistry between father and daughter is obviously set in stone, with young Tatum an absolute revelation. The screenplay gives them both ample opportunities to enchant and amuse the viewer as they get up to all sorts of tricks and scrapes. Yet there's always that feeling hanging in the dusty air that something has to give, that we are treading firmly in bittersweet territory, the crafty couple having earned our complete investment in their well being keeping us concerned even as we laugh out loud.

Delightful. 9/10
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A Father/Daughter Con Team Played by a Father and Daughter
evanston_dad8 June 2007
A charmer.

Ryan O'Neal stars with his real-life daughter Tatum in this story about a father and daughter con team scraping together an existence in Depression-era America. Along the way, the dad picks up a brassy floozy, played by the expert comedienne Madeline Kahn, which doesn't go down well with the precocious kid.

The entire success of "Paper Moon" relied upon the performance of the child actor, and Peter Bogdanovich did well to cast Tatum, as she plays the role without any of the self-conscious cutesiness that makes other child actors unbearable. Ryan was never more relaxed or likable in a role, maybe because he was working with his daughter. And Kahn of course is a delight, though one wishes she had a bigger role.

As with "The Last Picture Show," Bogdanovich shoots in nostalgic black and white, but this project is much more light-hearted than the other.

Grade: A-
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No doubt about it, a Gem
August19916 April 2004
I can't remember when I first saw this film. It was probably in the cinema and I thought it was a nostalgia flick, a fad then. 'Chinatown', 'Play It Again Sam' and 'Summer of 42' came out around the same time. And Bogdanovich had done 'The Last Picture Show' in B&W. Look, the US was coming out of the revolutionary Sixties - romanticism was in order.

I saw this film again recently on DVD. It's a gem. Taken from its 1970s context, it's obvious that Bogdanovich had talent like Polanski. There are so many scenes in the film that work because Bogdanovich made them work. This film suggests simple humanity. What went wrong for Bogdanovich? Why didn't this guy get the chance to settle down and do more? Kubrick got the chance - and then produced machinistic, technical schlock. 'Paper Moon' has more warmth -despite its austerity- than all of Kubrick's films combined.

Last points? Gotta daughter? Watch it with her. I predict that in 2123, people will watch this film, laugh, and simply believe that it comes from a previous century - as we today confuse the novels of Emile Zola and Victor Hugo.
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Alanjackd20 April 2015
I've been sitting thinking of how to write a review on this movie.Which angle can I come from? Should I mention the black and white filming..the chemistry between Ryan and his daughter Tatum..the use of depression hit America...the story behind the characters...direction...genre...sub-plots..blah blah blah...I've come to the conclusion that the best review I can give you is to get this on any which media you can and just sit and watch. Glorious and delightful from credit to credit. Amazing to think this movie is 40 years old.I recently reviewed " Birdman" and gave it a 9 because I wasn't sure whether it would translate to the small screen but this little gem just passes the finishing line because you could watch this on loop as I did. 3 times in one day and each time I smiled with a warm glow. Tatum O'Neal shows that you don't need any methods of acting as long as you got what it takes. All the extras in this movie must think its Christmas and their birthdays come rolled into one having a part in this.Won't drone on any more as I have just recently joined IMDb and trying to catch up with all my faves and as a regular movie goer for 40 years (alone ..yeah..I go alone..)I got a lot of typing to do.
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A treasure.
DoodleQuik25 December 2016
I became interested in this film after seeing Peter Bogdonovich's "What's Up, Doc?" with Barbra Streisand and Ryan O'Neal. "Paper Moon" is a delightful film about a con man (Ryan O'Neal) who is forced to take in a girl (Tatum O'Neal, who won an Oscar for this film) who may or may not be his daughter.

The film is essentially a road trip movie, with a slim plot to carry around events that happen while the two main characters travel across Great Depression America. Both of the characters are utterly charming with the heartfelt Addie forced to ride along with sleazy Moses.

I prefer "What's Up, Doc?" as I love Buck Henry's writing on that film.
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Paper Moon is Set In A Magical World that has Elements of Whimsy And Noir!
sandnair878 February 2016
Peter Bogdanovich's 'Paper Moon' is everything a road movie is supposed to be - a life-changing personal journey, a quest, a bit old-fashioned and above all, a hoot.

The story is simple. Young Addie (Tatum O'Neal) finds herself orphaned with the death of her single - and apparently rather free-spirited - mother. The arrival of a man named Moze (her real-life father, Ryan O'Neal) at the funeral, provides the other mourners a chance to pack Addie off to her aunt in Missouri. Moze is reluctant to take her along, but sees a chance to blackmail some money out of the whole situation. However, his dreams of pocketing a windfall of $200 and sending Addie off on a train come to nothing - the wily young girl demands the greatly diminished sum that was meant for her care. As a result, he finds himself saddled with this grimly adult child (who is fairly certain that Moze is her father) as his assistant in a crime spree through the Midwest – a scam involving sale of overpriced Bibles to recent widows. In essence, Moze scans obituaries for gullible widows he can convince to pay the balance on Bibles their husbands "ordered" for them - deluxe editions with the names embossed in gold - before "passing on". Unsurprisingly, Addie is an adroit, if unruly, student, who upstages both his skill and daring.

Yes, 'Paper Moon' is about two con artists, but not really about their con, and that's a relief. The scam is only part of the story, which takes a number of turns before reaching its end - including Moze picking up a tart from a sideshow - a carnival dancer named Trixie Delight (a cheerfully trampy Madeline Kahn), who is accompanied by a long suffering black maid, Imogene (wonderfully played by P. J. Johnson) who later turns out to be Addie's partner-in-crime. Bogdanovich takes the con games only as the experience which his two lead characters share and which draws them together in a way that's funny sometimes, but also very poignant and finally deeply touching.

The film is shot in gorgeous black-and-white, giving it a documentary feel that meshes perfectly with the sweet cynicism of the characters. But what really underscores the film is amazing chemistry between the O'Neals. The fact they are father and daughter in real life helps flavor their working dynamic in an intriguing way. Tatum O'Neal is an absolute revelation - she spends much of the film with a sourpuss expression pasted to her adorable little pixie face, but breezes through the film with astonishing confidence. Ryan O'Neal's roguish charm is perfect for the character and the result, paired with his daughter, is a strong co-lead dynamic, in a tale about their delicate relationship that teeters on father-and-daughter quality without adopting the name.

A true treasure, Peter Bogdanovich's Paper Moon belongs to a magical world that has elements of whimsy and noir!
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Paper Moon lights up the screen.
st-shot6 July 2008
In the early seventies director Peter Bogdanovich looked like he would be part of the talented roster of new Hollywood film makers (Spielberg, Coppola, Lucas) that had suddenly burst onto the scene. Bogdanovich a film critic and confidante of the likes of Orson Welles and Alfred Hitchcock had like the others learned his chops through the Roger Corman horror school with an impressive debut horror cheapie featuring Boris Karloff called Targets. He then followed up with three straight box office and critical hits, The Last Picture Show, What's Up Doc? and arguably his best, Paper Moon. Moon traverses the same dusty roads of the depression era that the earlier Bonnie and Clyde does and while there's a lot less gun play it's very much the same rollicking bumpy ride.

Moses Pray hustles bibles on unsuspecting widows to make a living when he reluctantly agrees to take recently orphaned Addie Loggins to her aunt in Missouri. Addie suspects that Moses could be her father, something he wants no part of. Addie it turns out is every bit as streetwise as Pray and the two form an uneasy alliance and con their way across the countryside. For part of the trip Trixie Delight a woman of dubious character and her much put upon maid join them but Addie soon puts a stop to that by devising a clever set-up. The two are soon back on the road alone where things get uglier but not enough to destroy this delightful pictures sunny disposition.

As he did in Last Picture Show Bogdanovich again displays a deft touch for black and white film composition. Of course it helps to have master cinematographers like Robert Surtees (Show) and Laszlo Kovacs lensing the work but it is Bogdanovich who manages to convey the very different feel of both films through his actors and the mood he establishes (nostalgia without crushing sentimentality) that fits so well with the somber monochromatic imagery.

The usually dull Ryan O'Neil gives a commendable performance as the flustered con-artist Moses. Playing mostly straight man to Addie he is always a step behind her as she indirectly takes charge on more than one occasion to save the day. Argumentative and abrasive as their screen characters are with each other, father daughter chemistry has never transferred to screen so well. Tatum O'Neil's Addie can't help but walk away with the show as the orphaned waif priming herself for a life of hard knocks. She's no Shirley Temple or for that matter Little Miss Sunshine. She's observant, knows how to play the game and easily outwits most adults she matches wits with. Her tough exterior belies the helpless little girl stereotype making her vulnerable moments all the more powerful. The film ultimately belongs to her character but you never know it when Madeline Khan's Trixie Delight shows up. This terrific supporting actress from the seventies gave any film she appeared in back then a boost and she does here as the brassy, mean spirited threat to Addie.

Bogdonovich's talent deserted him shortly after this with terrible comedies (Nickelodeon, They All Laughed), dull dramas (Daisy Miller, St. Jack) and an horrendous musical (At Long Last Love) but if anyone is in search of some of the best B&W films of the past 40 years they could start with Picture Show and this little gem.
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"it wouldn't be make believe"...and it isn't
Lee Eisenberg30 July 2007
Peter Bogdanovich - who turns 68 today - created a troika of nostalgia pieces in the early '70s with "The Last Picture Show", "What's Up, Doc?" and "Paper Moon". The last one puts an interesting spin on things. I remember when I saw it, I had just seen "The Sting" and noticed that the two both dealt with conning. But boy do they have something in store for you here.

The movie opens with Bible salesman Moses Pray (Ryan O'Neal) adopting Addie Loggins (Tatum O'Neal) in a Midwestern town during the Great Depression. It doesn't take her long to figure out that the guy's a con artist. However, she turns out to be cleverer than he.

I remember hearing about how the novel (which I've never read) was simply called "Addie Pray", and didn't feature the scene in which Moses and Addie sit on the title object at the fair. It's debatable as to whether or not it changed the quality to add that object and change the title. But either way, you can't deny that this movie remains a timeless masterpiece. Personally, I think that Peter Bogdanovich deserves a lot more credit as a director than most people give him; he has made some really good movies, even if some came out a little lower than we expect. This one is just great.

Also starring Madeleine Kahn and Randy Quaid.
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