Paper Moon (1973)

By Richard Winters

My Rating: 7 out of 10

4-Word Review: Tatum is the star.

Due to the recent reality show airing on the Oprah Winfrey Network about Tatum and Ryan O’Neal trying to patch things up as father and daughter after years of acrimony I thought it was time to dig up this gem of a 70’s movie and give it a review. It is the story of  Addie (Tatum in an Academy Award winning performance) a 11 year old girl who has just lost her parents and comes into the custody of a traveling salesman/con-artist (Ryan). Their relationship starts out as contemptuous, but eventually evolves into a strong friendship as the two travel the lonely roads of Kansas selling Bibles door-to-door during the Depression.

Lazlo Kovac’s incredibly evocative black and white cinematography is the true star here. Absolutely everything is in focus and his ability to bring out the beauty and charm of the otherwise barren and stark Kansas landscape is an achievement in itself. Tatum is sensational and eats up every scene that she is in. Madeline Kahn as Trixie Delight is also great. The opening scene where she walks up with her breasts juggling up and down in her dress is memorable. The story itself works off of the cuteness formula, but somehow manages to pull it off without it becoming forced or annoying.

Ryan’s performance is a little too affected. At times he becomes badly upstaged by his daughter and seems even a little intimidated by her. The film might have been better served with someone else playing the part. Also the scene showing him in the aftermath of a big fight where he gets beat up by a group of four men looks cheesy. He comes away with only a few cuts and bruises when it reality it should have been a lot worse.

Overall this is a charming and entertaining movie that, scene for scene, hits all the right marks. On a technical level this film is brilliantly photographed and directed and effectively brings back the 1930’s period detail and feeling.

My Rating: 7 out of 10

Released: May 9, 1973

Runtime: 1Hour 42Minutes

Rated PG

Director: Peter Bogdanovich

Studio: Paramount

Available: VHS, DVD, Amazon Instant Video

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