Flashback Film Review: "Paper Moon"

The film "Paper Moon," although produced in the 1970s, was shot in black-and-white, thus transporting viewers back to the era in which it is set, the Great Depression, and rekindling the stark emotions of the time. Audiences may be surprised to find that while the story of an orphaned child, Addie, in the Depression era might not sound like a laugh-out-loud comedy, "Paper Moon" is a wonderfully witty road movie, whose charm still holds true some 30 years later. The story begins following the death of Addie's mother, a Midwest prostitute, who has been killed in a car accident. Moses, an acquaintance of Addie's mother - which one might read between the lines to mean more - agrees to take Addie to her Aunt's home in St. Joseph, Missouri. Here, the comedy begins.  Addie and Moses team up devising scams and attempting to swindle all of whom they encounter. While Addie is ostensibly a sweet child dealing with the grief of losing a parent, Moses soon discovers that she is also a talented con artist, perhaps an even greater one than himself.

The onscreen chemistry between the two actors is perhaps due to their real-life connection, as they are played by father and daughter Ryan and Tatum O'Neal. Tatum's acting in the film was hailed by critics for its edginess and lack of the saccharine cuteness found in many children's roles. She was recognized by the Academy and in 1974, at the age of 10, became the youngest person ever to win an Oscar - she won for Best Actress in a Supporting Role. The film was also nominated for various awards that year.

Those who enjoy the movie will also want to read the book. The movie was adapted from the novel "Addie Pray" by Joe David Brown, though today is most commonly published under the film's title, "Paper Moon." Also of interest is Tatum O'Neals' memoir, "A Paper Life," where she discusses not only her role in the film, but also the partying, sex, and drugs encountered while growing up as a child in Hollywood.  Tatum's newest book is "Found: A Daughter's Journey Home."  All materials can be requested at the St. Louis County Library's website.

--Connie D., Rock Road Branch

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