by Ken B.
The creative decision to film Paper Moon in black and white, somehow, made it that more vivid. When the closing credits ended, I wasn’t exactly sure what I had seen, just that I had seen something undoubtedly great. A film that showed you exactly what it meant, and with a story such as this, could only work that way and be appreciated so much.
Anyway, Moses “Moze” Pray (RYAN O’NEAL) is a con man in the Midwest during the Great Depression. His gimmick is to sell overpriced “deluxe edition” Bibles to widowed women whose husbands have recently passed. He claims that just prior to the man’s death, they order the Bible with his wife’s name stamped on it. In truth, it’s done by reading the obituaries in the local newspaper, and the price is determined by eyeballing the house and its furniture, and determining the wealth of the owner.
Through a series of events, he ends up with a business partner: a 9 year old girl named Addie Loggins (TATUM O’NEAL) who may or may not be Moze’s daughter. Addie turns out to be quite the determined young girl, who accomplishes everything with gusto and her way. Moze must drive her to her aunt’s home, as her mother recently died.
When I saw Leave it to Beaver: The Movie I thought that “kids can’t act”. Only rarely is that statement proved wrong. This is one of those exceptions. 9 Year old Tatum delivers a terrific performance, with perfect timing and deadpan. How the Oscar she won was for “Best Supporting Actress” I don’t know, as she’s on screen for nearly the entire 102 minute runtime.
Really, there are solid performances all across the board. As a result, the well written script works better and flows well. We also have a film beautifully photographed, with every last inch of the frame filled with detail, a nice touch in what would already be a great movie.
Paper Moon is an entertaining and engrossing moviegoing experience. I don’t regret one second of its existence. It runs beautifully with minimal flaw. It’s a wonderful change of pace after a string of terrible movies (that is, if you’re reading this when it first came out, in which case you may have just requested my best reviews and that phrase doesn’t make any sense).
What we have is a brilliant, humorous, told-from-the-heart story, that is rather overlooked my a mainstream moviegoer. Until it was recommended to me, I had no idea it existed.
While not very obscure, Paper Moon is a bit of a hidden gem, and well worth going out of your way to check out. It’s definitely one of the more odd films set in the Great Depression, while not making it the central subject of the film, certainly not ignoring it altogether.