Thursday, December 11, 2014

Movie Review: "Paper Moon" (1973)

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Movie"Paper Moon"
Director: Peter Bogdanovich
Year: 1973
Rating: PG
Running Time: 1 hour, 42 minutes

After Addie Loggins' (Tatum O'Neal) mother dies, she is to be sent to live with her aunt in St. Joseph, Missouri. An old acquaintance of Addie's mother named Moses Pray (Ryan O'Neal), who bares a striking resemblance to Addie, stops at the funeral to pay his respects. He is asked to drive Addie to St. Joseph since he is heading that way anyway. He reluctantly agrees. Moses travels as a bible salesman, but is really a con artist. He preys on the recently bereaved, claiming that the recently departed just order a personalized deluxe bible, charging them large amounts to keep it, despite it being mid-depression. Addie quickly picks up on his game and helps him get even more money and run even bigger cons. They butt heads at first, but grow closer and closer as their road trip progresses, and it turns out that Moses might actually be Addie's estranged father. 

I can remember my grandma either wanting to make me or making me watch this movie when I was just a wee lass. At the time, I absolutely hated the thought of watching an "old" movie and probably opted to watch the live action stage production of "Peter Pan" on tape for the 10,000th time.

Now, as adult, I can safely say I was an idiot at 5 years old. Harsh? Maybe. But this movie is fantastic!

Tatum O'Neal does a splendidly excellent job as the ill tempered, manipulative, young smoker, and con artist Addie. In fact, her performance was so good she won the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress. She was just 10 years old when she earned this honor and is still the youngest to win to date. Ryan O'Neal does an equally impressive job as her may or may not be father and they work well together on screen. Well, it does help their on screen chemistry that he is Tatum's real life father. The two have a ton of wonderful lines and arguments together. It's fun and cute when they bump heads and even more cute when Moses pretends he's not smitten with young Addie. She's just so damn adorable and charming and manipulative! It's sort of sad that Tatum O'Neal fizzled out of the spotlight because she was so good in this movie. It seemed like she had a promising career, but nothing really came to fruition for her. The same can also be said for her father as well. Madeline Kahn also does a wonderful job as Trixie Delight, the "dancer"and gold digger. She also provides a great source of conflict between Addie and Moses and subsequently provides a lot of fantastic retaliation scenes for Addie.

Because this is a film that deals with The Depression, it is shot in black and white and we absolutely love this aspect of the movie. It gives it the genuine feel that it so desperately needed in 1973 to make it be convincing. And it was. The entire Depression-era essence of this movie is brilliantly captured by Peter Bogdanovich, and he does a fantastic directing job overall. The chemistry between each person in this movie is truly realistic and authentic to the time period. In the end, despite all of their conning and all of the trouble that goes on around them, the story boils down to a father-daughter type of relationship, though we never actually find out if Moses was Addie's father or not. What makes this movie work is their real relationship and whether the characters are related or not becomes less and less important as the movie progresses. They create a bond anyway, regardless of blood ties.

In the end, the movie is sentimental and will make you feel something deep down inside, but it is not done in a sappy way that it will make you sorry that you watched this movie.

My Rating: 8.5/10
BigJ's Rating: 8.5/10
IMDB's Rating: 8.2/10
Rotten Tomatoes Rating: 91%
Do we recommend this movie: Yes!

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