Bogdanovich's warmest film, featuring charming performances from real-life father and daughter Ryan and Tatum O'Neal. Driving a Model-T roadster in the Depression year of 1936, O'Neal stops to pay his respects at the funeral of one of his former girlfriends. Neighbors explain that the
woman's death has left an "adorable" 9-year-old daughter an orphan and beg him to take the child to relatives in St. Joseph, Missouri. O'Neal takes Tatum O'Neal along with him and almost instantly regrets his generosity. The little girl smokes, swears, and exhibits altogether unchildlike behavior.
After taking sly vengeance on the brother of the man who caused the death of Tatum's mother in a car accident, defrauding him of $200, O'Neal buys a new car and then takes Tatum to a train station, buying her a ticket for St. Joseph. Rather than get on the train, she creates a scene in the station
restaurant, screaming that O'Neal owes her $200. Since he got it from the family that inadvertently caused her mother's death, she asserts, it is therefore her rightful inheritance--and he's probably her father to boot. O'Neal gives in and takes her along on his roadway adventures through Kansas
and Missouri, where he works a variety of con games on the gullible rurals.
PAPER MOON offers brilliant, bittersweet images and an entertaining story. The O'Neals are excellent, but Madeline Kahn almost steals the film in a small turn as a travelling floozy. Bogdanovich's direction is fast, furious, and full of fun. As with THE LAST PICTURE SHOW, the director opted for
black-and-white cinematography (beautifully done by Kovacs) in a world swimming in color celluloid, to achieve an historical feel. "I have more affection, more affinity for the past," Bogdanovich later stated. "Since I am more interested in it, it comes easier for me." This was Tatum O'Neal's film
debut, and no one would ever forget it, especially Tatum O'Neal, who won a Best Supporting Actress Oscar for her performance (over costar Kahn). For Bogdanovich, the grown-up little girl provided "one of the most miserable experiences of my life." The picture was filmed on location near Hays,
Kansas, and St. Joseph, Missouri. The highly effective musical backdrop for the picture is a procession of period tunes from the record collection of Rudi Fehr.
Cast & Details See all »
- Released: 1973
- Rating: PG
- Review: Bogdanovich's warmest film, featuring charming performances from real-life father and daughter Ryan and Tatum O'Neal. Driving a Model-T roadster in the Depression year of 1936, O'Neal stops to pay his respects at the funeral of one of his former girlfriend… (more)