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PAPER MOON (1973)

Based on Joe David Brown's novel, "Addie Pray" (1971), "Paper Moon" is a tale of Moses Pray and Addie Loggins.  Set during the American depression in the Midwest, when the young Addie attends her mother's funeral, she soon discovers herself taken in by her Aunt in St. Joseph, Missouri.  Meanwhile, Kansas Bible Company rep Moses Pray enters the picture as a local scam artist appearing under the guise of a "traveling preacher."  Quickly, however, Addie teams up with the con artist, and together, the two travel from town to town, copping cons and rolling in the doe as a father-daughter scam artist duo.  But when a carnival dancer by the name of "Miss Trixie Delight," and her minion, Imogene, enter the picture, things start to get a whole lot more interesting for Moses and Addie and their wildly reckless
adventures.
 

The top drawer cast includes: Ryan O'Neal, Tatum O' Neal, Madeline Kahn, John Hillerman, P.J. Johnson, Burton Gilliam, and Randy Quaid.

Tatum won the Best Supporting Actress Oscar for her "Paper Moon" performance.

Director Peter Bogdanovich's PAPER MOON is a nearly perfect movie entertainment.

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"As P.T. Barnum put it, 'There's a sucker born every minute.' "

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The basic story is set in the 1930's, in a Midwestern region of the country. When a struggling con man meets up with a clever young girl, they turn into a dynamite team, making money off the gullible townspeople, from various con games, that they meet as they travel through towns together.

Moses meets the fatherless Addy, at her low brow mother's funeral, and volunteered to take the child to her Aunt's in Saint Louis. Moses was a scam artist that worked his game on the surviving widows of the recently deceased , whom he had found through town newspapers. He would show up on their doorstep, insisting that their dead husband had ordered an expensive Bible, from The Kansas Bible Company. He soon realizes that this young girl had a gift for the scam game, as he watches her in action. So, they team up together to make a profit, meeting many interesting people as they go along. Of course, they run into trouble at one point along their journey, and just barely escape, losing almost everything they had stolen.

10 year old Tatum O' Neal, as Addy, is wise beyond her years as O'Neal's crafty sidekick. She won an Oscar for her performance here, which was her film debut. Some say she stole the show.

Ryan O' Neal, as Moses, has rarely been better. O'Neal, whose greatest fame came as a pretty face opposite Ali MacGraw in the mega-hit "Love Story," reached inside himself, delivering a strong, heartfelt performance.

Young Tatem and Ryan O'Neal together make a dynamite pair, that really carries the script. As they are father and daughter in real life, their relationship off screen, and their in-house family acting talent that they both had together explains partially the very entertaining result. The direction, by Peter Bogdanovich, is superb as well.

The clever and well written script is full of fun dialogue and well sketched characters. Alvin Sargent did the scripting, based on the novel "Addie Pray," by Joe David Brown.

Madeline Kahn is delightful as Trixie Delight, a cheap and vulgar woman that Ryan O'Neal gets involved with, when he rescues her from a carnival.

My favorite scenes revolve around a scam, perfected by Addy, involving making change in stores. While not in the same league as "The Sting," it's a fun con nonetheless.

If you enjoyed PAPER MOON you may likeWHAT'S UP DOC?, THE STING, OCEAN'S ELEVEN, and LAST PICTURE SHOW.

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