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''Paper Moon'' is a 1973 American
road A road is a thoroughfare, route, or way on land between two Location (geography), places that has been Pavement (material), paved or otherwise improved to allow travel by foot or by some form of wikt:conveyance, conveyance (including a motor vehi ...
comedy-drama Comedy-drama, or dramedy, is a genre of dramatic works that combines elements of comedy and Drama (film and television), drama. History The advent of radio drama, film, cinema and in particular, television created greater pressure in marketing t ...
film directed by
Peter Bogdanovich
Peter Bogdanovich
and released by
Paramount Pictures Paramount Pictures Corporation (commonly known as Paramount Pictures, or simply Paramount) is an American film production company and a subsidiary of ViacomCBS. It is the fifth oldest film studio in the world, the second oldest film studio ...

Paramount Pictures
. Screenwriter Alvin Sargent adapted the script from the 1971 novel '' Addie Pray'' by Joe David Brown. The film, shot in black-and-white, is set in
Kansas Kansas () is a state in the Midwestern United States The United States of America (USA), commonly known as the United States (U.S. or US), or America, is a country Contiguous United States, primarily located in North America. It cons ...
and
Missouri Missouri is a U.S. state, state in the Midwestern United States, Midwestern region of the United States. With more than six million residents, it is the List of U.S. states and territories by population, 18th-most populous state of the country. ...
during the
Great Depression The Great Depression was a severe worldwide economic depression that took place mostly during the 1930s, beginning in the United States. The timing of the Great Depression varied across the world; in most countries, it started in 1929 and l ...
. It stars the real-life father and daughter pairing of Ryan and
Tatum O'Neal Tatum Beatrice O'Neal (born November 5, 1963) is an American actress and author. She is the List of oldest and youngest Academy Award winners and nominees, youngest person ever to win a competitive Academy Awards, Academy Award, which she won in 1 ...
as protagonists Moze and Addie. Tatum O'Neal received widespread praise from critics for her performance as Addie, earning her the
Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress The Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress is an award presented annually by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (AMPAS). It is given to honor an actress who has delivered an outstanding performance in a supporting actor, supportin ...
, making her the youngest competitive winner in the history of the
Academy Awards The Academy Awards, popularly known as the Oscars, are awards for artistic and technical merit in the film industry. They are regarded as the most famous and prestigious awards in the entertainment industry around the world. Given annually by ...
.


Plot

In Gorham, Kansas, circa 1936, itinerant con man Moses Pray meets nine-year-old Addie Loggins at her mother's graveside service, where the neighbors suspect he is Addie's father. He denies this, but agrees to deliver the orphaned Addie to her aunt's home in St. Joseph, Missouri. At a local grain mill, Moses convinces the brother of the man who accidentally killed Addie's mother to give him $200 for the newly orphaned Addie. Addie overhears this conversation and, after Moses spends nearly half the money fixing his old Ford Model A (1927–1931), Model A convertible and buying her a train ticket, she demands the money as rightfully hers, whereupon Moses agrees to let Addie travel with him until he has raised back the full $200 to give to her. Thereafter Moses visits recently-widowed women, pretending to have previously sold expensive, personalized Bibles to their deceased husbands, and the widows pay him for the Bibles inscribed with their names. Addie joins the scam, pretending she is his daughter, and exhibits a talent for confidence tricks, cheating a cotton candy vendor out of a large sum of money. As time passes, Moses and Addie become a formidable team. One night, Addie and "Moze" (as Addie addresses him) stop at a local carnival, where Moze becomes enthralled with an "exotic dancer" named Miss Trixie Delight and leaves Addie at a photo booth to have her photograph taken alone (of herself sitting on a crescent moon, to suggest the film's title). Much to Addie's chagrin, Moze invites "Miss Trixie"—and her downtrodden African American teenage maid, Imogene—to join Addie and him. Addie soon becomes friends with Imogene and becomes jealous of Trixie. When Addie subsequently discovers that Moze has spent their money on a brand-new Ford Model 48, Model 68 convertible to impress Miss Trixie, she and Imogene devise a plan. They convince a clerk at the hotel where the group is staying to visit Trixie. Addie then sends Moze up to Trixie's room, where he discovers the clerk and Trixie having sexual intercourse, sex. Moze promptly leaves Miss Trixie and Imogene behind, while Addie leaves Imogene enough money to pay for her own passage home. While staying at another hotel in a rural area, Moze uncovers a Rum-running, bootlegger's store full of whiskey, steals some of it, and sells it back to the bootlegger. Unfortunately the bootlegger's twin brother is the local Sheriffs in the United States, sheriff, who has spotted them stealing and quickly arrests Addie and Moze. Addie hides their money in her hat, steals back the key to their car, and the pair escape. To elude pursuit, they trade their new car for a decrepit Ford Model T, Model T farm truck after Moze beats a hillbilly, Leroy, in a Catch wrestling, "rasslin' match". Moze and Addie make it across the state line to
Missouri Missouri is a U.S. state, state in the Midwestern United States, Midwestern region of the United States. With more than six million residents, it is the List of U.S. states and territories by population, 18th-most populous state of the country. ...
, where Moze sets up another swindle, only to be caught again by the sheriff and his deputies; outside of their jurisdiction and unable to make an arrest, they beat Moze and rob him of his and Addie's savings. Humiliated and defeated, Moze drops Addie at the house of her aunt in St. Joseph, but a disappointed Addie rejoins him on the road. When he refuses her company, she reminds him that he still owes her $200 and points out that his truck has just rolled away without him. They catch the truck and leave together.


Cast


Production


Director

The film project was originally associated with John Huston and was to star Paul Newman and his daughter, Nell Newman, Nell Potts. However, when Huston left the project, the Newmans became dissociated from the film as well.Stafford, Jeff (October 2006)
''Paper Moon''
Turner Classic Movies. Accessed April 11, 2020.
Peter Bogdanovich
Peter Bogdanovich
had just completed ''What's Up, Doc? (1972 film), What's Up, Doc?'' and was looking for another project when his ex-wife and frequent collaborator Polly Platt recommended filming Joe David Brown's script for the novel ''Addie Pray.'' Bogdanovich, a fan of period films, and having two young daughters of his own, found himself drawn to the story, and selected it as his next film.


Casting

At the suggestion of Polly Platt, Bogdanovich approached eight-year-old
Tatum O'Neal Tatum Beatrice O'Neal (born November 5, 1963) is an American actress and author. She is the List of oldest and youngest Academy Award winners and nominees, youngest person ever to win a competitive Academy Awards, Academy Award, which she won in 1 ...
to audition for the role although she had no acting experience. Bogdanovich had worked with Tatum's father Ryan O'Neal on ''What's Up, Doc? (1972 film), What's Up, Doc?'', and decided to cast them as the leads.


Screenplay

Various changes were made in adapting the book to film. Addie's age was reduced from twelve to nine to accommodate young Tatum, several events from the book were combined for pacing issues, and the last third of the novel, when Moses and Addie graduate to the big leagues as con artists after going into partnership with a fake millionaire, was dropped. The location was also changed from the rural south of the novel–primarily Alabama—to midwestern
Kansas Kansas () is a state in the Midwestern United States The United States of America (USA), commonly known as the United States (U.S. or US), or America, is a country Contiguous United States, primarily located in North America. It cons ...
and
Missouri Missouri is a U.S. state, state in the Midwestern United States, Midwestern region of the United States. With more than six million residents, it is the List of U.S. states and territories by population, 18th-most populous state of the country. ...
.


Filming locations

The film was shot in the small towns of Hays, Kansas; McCracken, Kansas; Wilson, Kansas; and St. Joseph, Missouri. Various shooting locations include the Midland Hotel at Wilson, Kansas; the railway depot at Gorham, Kansas; storefronts and buildings on Main Street in White Cloud, Kansas; Hays, Kansas; sites on both sides of the Missouri River; Rulo Bridge; and St. Joseph, Missouri.


Props

The car Moses is driving when he agrees to take Addie home is a 1930 Ford Model A convertible; the car Moses buys to impress Miss Trixie is a Ford Model 48, 1936 Ford V8 De Luxe convertible. The whiskey being sold by the bootlegger shown toward the end of the film is Three Feathers blended whiskey, a label introduced by Oldtyme Distilling Corp. in 1882 and still produced up to the 1980s. The bottle of soda pop drunk by Addie is from Nehi Soda, by a company founded as Chero-Cola in 1910, in 1925 renamed Nehi, Nehi Corporation, which became RC Cola, Royal Crown Company, then Dr Pepper/Seven Up, then Dr Pepper Snapple Group.


Title

Peter Bogdanovich also decided to change the name of the film from ''Addie Pray''. While selecting music for the film, he heard the song "It's Only a Paper Moon" (by Billy Rose, Yip Harburg, and Harold Arlen). Seeking advice from his close friend and mentor Orson Welles, Bogdanovich listed ''Paper Moon'' as a possible alternative. Welles responded: "That title is so good, you shouldn't even make the picture, you should just release the title!" Bogdanovich added the scene in which Addie has her picture taken in a paper moon solely so the studio would allow him to use the title.


Cinematography and editing

Director of photography László Kovács (cinematographer), László Kovács used a red filter on the camera on Orson Welles' advice. Bogdanovich also used deep focus cinematography and Long take, extended takes in the film.


Reception


Box office

The film earned an estimated $13 million in North American theater rentals in 1973 (equivalent to $ million in ).


Critical response

On Rotten Tomatoes the film holds an approval rating of 93% based on 40 reviews, with an average rating of 8.6/10. The site's critics consensus reads, "Expertly balancing tones, ''Paper Moon'' is a deft blend of film nostalgia and finely tuned performances – especially from Tatum O'Neal, who won an Oscar for her debut." Metacritic assigned a weighted average score of 77 out of 100 based on eight critics, indicating "generally favorable reviews". Vincent Canby of ''The New York Times'' praised "two first-class performances" from Ryan and Tatum O'Neal but found the film "oddly depressing" and unable to "make up its mind whether it wants to be an instant antique or a comment on one". Roger Ebert gave the film his top four-star rating and commented that "a genre movie about a con man and a little girl is teamed up with the real poverty and desperation of Kansas and Missouri, circa 1936. You wouldn’t think the two approaches would fit together, somehow, but, they do, and the movie comes off as more honest and affecting than if Bogdanovich had simply paid tribute to older styles". Gene Siskel gave the film three-and-a-half stars out of four and wrote that Tatum O'Neal "is more than cute. Her role is something special in the well-established tradition of children on film." Arthur D. Murphy in ''Variety (magazine), Variety'' called Tatum O'Neal "outstanding" and added, "Alvin Sargent's screenplay is a major contributor to the overall excellent results". Charles Champlin of the ''Los Angeles Times'' wrote that Tatum O'Neal was "just plain marvelous and ''Paper Moon'' is a tough, funny, beautifully calculated diversion". Gary Arnold of ''The Washington Post'' wrote that the film "may prove a keen disappointment if you go with high expectations. At its best the film is only mildly amusing, and I'm not sure I could come up with a few undeniable highlights if pressed on the point". Tom Milne of ''The Monthly Film Bulletin'' called the film "very easy to take, especially as Alvin Sargent's dialogue has a nice edge of wit. The trouble is that the film covers all the ground it is going to cover in the scene in the restaurant near the beginning when we, with Ryan O'Neal, first realise that the sweetly awful child is going to be more than a match for him as far as wits are concerned".


Awards and nominations

At the Academy Awards,
Tatum O'Neal Tatum Beatrice O'Neal (born November 5, 1963) is an American actress and author. She is the List of oldest and youngest Academy Award winners and nominees, youngest person ever to win a competitive Academy Awards, Academy Award, which she won in 1 ...
won the
Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress The Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress is an award presented annually by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (AMPAS). It is given to honor an actress who has delivered an outstanding performance in a supporting actor, supportin ...
, making her List of Academy Award records, the youngest competitive Academy Award winner to date (at age 10).


Other media

In September 1974, a television series called ''Paper Moon'', based on the film, premiered on the American Broadcasting Company, ABC television network, with Jodie Foster cast as Addie and Christopher Connelly (actor), Christopher Connelly (who had appeared as O'Neal's brother in the earlier ABC series, ''Peyton Place (TV series), Peyton Place'') playing Moses. It was not a ratings success and the series was canceled in January 1975.


See also

* List of American films of 1973


Notes


References


External links

* * * * * *
Bogdanovich Receives Visionary Award
(Wayback Machine copy) {{DEFAULTSORT:Paper Moon 1973 films 1970s crime comedy-drama films 1970s road comedy-drama films American Broadcasting Company original programming American black-and-white films American crime comedy-drama films American road comedy-drama films American films English-language films Films about con artists Films about orphans Films adapted into television shows Films based on American novels Films directed by Peter Bogdanovich Films featuring a Best Supporting Actress Academy Award-winning performance Films produced by Frank Marshall Films set in the 1930s Films set in Kansas Films set in Missouri Films shot in Kansas Films shot in Missouri Films with screenplays by Alvin Sargent Great Depression films Paramount Pictures films