Greatest Film Scenes
and Moments

Paper Moon (1973)


Written by Tim Dirks

Title Screen
Movie Title/Year and Scene Descriptions

Paper Moon (1973)

In director Peter Bogdanovich's amusing road-drama - an engaging off-beat comedy of a wily, Depression Era con-man who sold Bibles to mourning widows, accompanied by his scheming and tough 'adopted' daughter (pairing real-life father-actor Ryan O'Neal and his nine-year old daughter Tatum O'Neal - who won the Best Supporting Actress Oscar for her substantial film debut role):

  • the early sequence in Gorham, Kansas in the mid-1930s at a gravesite for the funeral of Essie Mae Loggins - the coincidental meeting of the deceased mother's young and precocious, orphaned 9 year-old Addie Loggins (Tatum O'Neal), and fly-by-night Bible-selling con-man Moses "Moze" Pray (Ryan O'Neal), a family acquaintance (and her suspected 'father')
  • the diner scene in which Addie (while eating a Coney dog and drinking a Nehi soda) convinced Moze to let her accompany him on the road; she argued that the $200 given to him as compensation for the DUI car accident that killed her mother be given to her: ("We got the SAME jaw!" and "I want my $200"); she demanded the money, or she would report him to the police; he agreed to remain with her until he earned back the money to pay her; they continually bickered as they began their road trip
  • the scene of Moses' first unethical swindling by selling Bibles to recent widows, while representing the Kansas Bible Company and claiming the deceased husband had ordered the Bible; Mozes' first victim was Pearl Morgan, who bought a $7 Bible; from the car, Addie shrewdly watched the scam and realized how he was cheating and manipulating widows to make money
  • the image of the young Addie in their shared hotel room their first night, smoking in bed (Moses: "You're too young to smoke, you're gonna set this whole place on fire (long pause in the darkness) I now owe you $103.72 cents" - she corrected him: ".74") - she frequently cussed
  • Addie shrewdly suggested increasing the Bible price in certain circumstances, such as "12 dollars" for widowed Marie Bates (Yvonne Harrison) - paid for by a friendly lawman (Ed Reed), and conversely giving Bibles away free of charge to poor clients, such as Elvira Stanley (Eleanor Bogart), but charging "24 dollars" for rich widow Edna Huff (Dorothy Forster)
  • the scene of Addie's convincing con of an unsuspecting store salesgirl Miss Bramwell (Dejah Moore), claiming that she had given the vendor a "Happy Birthday"-inscribed $20 bill rather than a $5 ("Lady, you made a mistake...I gave you a $20 bill"); Addie also swindled a distracted cotton candy salesman (Desmond Dhooge) at a carnival
  • the romantic entrancement of Moses at the carnival, in the Harem Slave show tent, for gold-digging, good-time girl and busty exotic dancer Miss Trixie Delight (Madeline Kahn); Addie took an immediate jealousy-fueled dislike for Trixie
  • in a hilarious scene with a priceless monologue, after the group had a hillside picnic; Trixie tried to cajole Addie to come down to the car and sit in the back seat - Addie stubbornly refused and insisted on taking her place in the front seat; eventually Addie agreed to sit in the back, when Trixie predicted that Moze would tire of her and she would soon be on her way: ("Hey, what's up, kiddo? Daddy says you're wearin' a sad face. It ain't good to have a sad face. Hey, how'd ya Iike a coIorin' book? Would you like that? You Iike Mickey the Mouse? (She stumbled) Oh! Son of a bitch! Ah, now, come on down to the car and let's all be friends. You see me smiIe? Let Mama see ya smiIe Iike Aunt Trixie. Now come on. Come on down to the car with "MademoiseIIe." Kiddo, I understand how you feeI. But you don't have to worry. One of these days, you're gonna be just as pretty as "Mademoiselle," maybe prettier. You already got bone structure. When I was your age, I didn't have no bone structure. Took me years to get bone structure. And don't think bone structure's not important. Nobody started to call me "Mademoiselle" until I was seventeen and gettin' a little bone structure. When I was your age, I was skinnier than a pole. I never thought I'd have nothin' up here. (She pointed at her chest) You're gonna have 'em up there, too. Look, I'll tell you what. Want me to show you how to use cosmetics? Look, I'll let you put on my earrings, you're gonna see how pretty you're gonna be. And I'll show you how to make up your eyes. And your lips. And I'll see to it you get a little bra or somethin'. But right now, you're gonna pick your little ass up, you're gonna drop it in the back seat and you're gonna cut out the crap - ya understand? (She started down the hill, then turned around) You're gonna ruin it, ain't ya? Look, I don't wanna wipe you out. And I don't want you wipin' me out, ya know. So, I'm gonna level with ya, okay. Now, you see with me, it's just a matter of time. I don't know why, but, somehow I just don't manage to hold on real long. So, if you wait it out a little, it'll be over, ya know. And even if I want a fella, somehow or other, I manage to get it screwed up. Maybe I'll get a new pair of shoes, a nice dress, a few laughs. Times are hard. Now if you fool around on the hill up here, then you don't get nothin'. I don't get nothin'. You don't get nothin'. So how 'bout it, honey? Just for a little while. Let ol' Trixie sit up front with her big tits")
  • and later, the scene of Addie ingeniously devised and orchestrated a scheme to separate Trixie from Moses by having her bed Floyd (Burton Gilliam), their front-desk clerk at the Exchange Hotel, and getting Moses to walk in on them having sex - the ploy worked
  • the tearjerking scene of young Addie being dropped off at her relative Aunt Billie's (Rose-Mary Rumbley) place in St. Joseph, MO; as he removed her luggage, she left him an envelope with a picture of herself in his car - it had been taken at the carnival of her sitting on a 'paper moon' (a crescent moon swing) - her objective was to be reunited again with him on the road
  • Addie's sweet Aunt offered to make the young girl's life very comfortable in her home: "Everybody's gonna be so happy to see ya. We're gonna get those clothes off of you and you're gonna get into a nice, fresh bath. And then you're gonna sleep in your own little bed, alongside your cousin Edna. l just near give up on you, child. l bet you're starvin' to death. l'm gonna cut ya a big piece of pie. We got those telegrams, and then we never did hear from ya"
Dropped Off At Her Aunt's Place, But Then Reunited
  • shortly later, however, Addie ran away from her Aunt's place so that she could continue swindling and grifting with Moses on the road; Moses saw her coming over the hill in his rear-view mirror; she ran after him with her bags and caught up with him sitting in his stalled truck only a short way down the road (he had paused and had second thoughts after he had found her 'paper moon' picture); at first, however, he told her: "I told ya, I don't want you ridin' with me no more" - she firmly disagreed and retorted: "You still owe me $200 dollars!" - and although he was outraged with her, they both found themselves having to jump onto his dilapidated, brakeless Model T farm truck that began rolling away; she alerted him: "Oh, look!" - he grapped her bags and urged: "Come on, hurry up!"

Funeral Gravesite

Diner Scene: 9 Yr. Old Addie Loggins with Con-Man Moses (or "Moze") Pray

Addie Smoking in Bed

Addie and Moze On the Road

Swindling Scheme: Selling Bibles to Recent Widows - With Addie's Assistance

Addie Conning a Salesclerk - the $20 Bill Scheme

At the Carnival

Miss Trixie Delight (Madeline Kahn)

Trixie vs. Addie (Arguing About Seats in the Car): "Let ol' Trixie sit up front with her big tits"

Setting Up Hotel Desk Clerk Floyd with Trixie


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