Review by Michael Jacobson
Ryan O’Neal, Madeline Kahn, Tatum O’Neil, John Hillerman
Director: Peter Bogdanovich
Audio: Dolby Digital Mono
Video: Anamorphic Widescreen 1.85:1
Features: Three Featurettes, Commentary
Length: 102 Minutes
Release Date: August 12, 2003
works in mysterious ways!”
may only have been a Paper Moon, but it was a box office hit in its day
and continues to be a beloved and charming classing well into the new
millennium…which makes this film a perfect one to preserve on DVD.
1973, producer/director Peter Bogdanovich was riding a high crest of success
with his critically lauded The Last Picture Show and the audience
pleasing What’s Up Doc? But
he had some misgivings when the studio presented him with a screenplay based on
a novel called Addie Pray about a Depression era con man who finds
himself partnered with an orphaned cherub with a brain for the business.
But after his wife convinced him it could be a good film, and even
suggested that friend Ryan O’Neil and his little daughter Tatum should play
the leads, he agreed.
was the right decision. Paper
Moon is an effervescent, joyous look back at our nation’s troubled times
through the eyes of a winning pair of characters.
Moses Pray (Ryan) is a two-bit con man with a…er, gift for selling
Bibles. But at the opening, when he
attends a funeral for an old lover, he ends up with the woman’s child, Addie
(Tatum). He’s supposed to just
drive her to the next state to drop off at her Aunt’s, but he has other ideas,
including how to make a quick bit of cash and be rid of the girl and well on his
way to his next adventure.
Addie turns out to be more than he bargained for, and so a simple scheme turns
into a road story as man and child make their way through the Midwest.
Cons are orchestrated, money is made, and soon the pair realize they have
more in common than they could have imagined!
road picture takes two major detours along the way…one is when Moses becomes
enamored with the exotic dancer Trixie Delight (the scene stealing Kahn), and
little Addie has to open his eyes to the kind of trouble he’s getting himself
into. The other involves an
attempted scam on a bootlegger that goes horribly awry when his cop brother puts
the squeeze on our heros. When it
cuts to the chase, all hell breaks loose! (John
Hillerman plays both bootlegger and cop, for a solid double role).
all breezy and winsome…not particularly deep, but lots of fun.
This was yet another picture my mother forced me to watch when I was a
kid, where I went in grumbling but came out smiling.
Some pictures make you contemplate life, death and the universe.
Some just make you happy.
Moon is a
certified smile inducer. No wonder
we still love it after all these years.
TRIVIA: Both Madeline Kahn
and Tatum O’Neil earned Supporting Actress Oscar nods, with Tatum taking the
statuette as the youngest ever Oscar recipient!
anamorphic rendering from Paramount offers a clean look at a classic black and
white film from the 70s. Detail
level is strong and images are sharp, with well defined lines, clean whites and
deep blacks. A smidgen of grain in
noticeable here and there, as well as an every-now-and-then telltale sign of
aging like a scratch or spot, but overall, the film has held up well, and the
studio has done a serviceable job with this DVD.
sound is mono, which suit the period feel of the piece just fine.
There’s mostly dialogue to listen to, with a few scratchy recordings of
Depression-era songs to add spice, but with an occasional burst of action here
and there to give it some range. Unspectacular
by nature, but perfectly suitable.
disc contains a likable commentary track from a likable filmmaker in Peter
Bogdanovich, who’s pleasant to listen to and generous with his memories about
how the project came to be, working with his stars (particularly his young
ones), and more. There are three
short featurettes with Bogdanovich and crew members about the making of the
movie, though they could have easily been edited into one long one.
They feature behind the scenes footage and outtakes, and are enjoyable.