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 about 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):

  • in Gorham, Kansas in the mid-1930s at a gravesite for the funeral of Essie Mae Loggins, the deceased mother's young and precocious, orphaned 9 year-old Addie Loggins (Tatum O'Neal) coincidentally met young, fly-by-night Bible-selling con-man Moses "Moze" Pray (Ryan O'Neal) - a family acquaintance (he was an old girlfriend of Essie Mae's, and suspected as Addie's 'father'); he was convinced to take Addie to her only known relatives in St. Joseph, MO
  • in a diner while eating a Coney dog and drinking a Nehi soda, Addie 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; since he had already spent much of the money to fix his old Model-A car, he agreed to remain with her until he earned back the $200 dollars to pay her; they continually bickered as they began their road trip
  • Moses' unethical swindling 'business' was to represent the Kansas Bible Company and sell personally-monogrammed Bibles to recent widows, while claiming that the deceased husband had ordered the Bible; Moses' 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
  • in their shared hotel room their first night, young Addie kept her possessions close by (her cigar box with trinkets and her radio); she also smoked in bed (Moses objected: "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 revealed that she was as shrewd, manipulative and cunning as Moses; while selling Bibles, she posed as Moses' daughter, and cleverly suggested increasing (and decreasing) the Bible price in certain circumstances, such as "12 dollars" for widowed Marie Bates (Yvonne Harrison) - paid for by a friendly lawman (Ed Reed), but conversely giving Bibles away free of charge to poor clients, such as Elvira Stanley (Eleanor Bogart), while charging "24 dollars" for rich widow Edna Huff (Dorothy Forster)
  • at a department store, where Moses proposed that she dress more feminine, Addie convincingly conned (with a quick-change scam) the 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
  • at the carnival, in the Harem Slave show tent, Moses became romantically entranced by gold-digging, good-time girl and busty exotic dancer Miss Trixie Delight (Madeline Kahn), actually a prostitute; Moses abandoned Addie at a photo booth where she had her picture taken on a crescent moon; Trixie had convinced Moses to give her lift, accompanied by her black teenaged maid, Imogene (P.J. Johnson)
  • Addie took an immediate jealousy-fueled dislike for Trixie, and devised ways to sabotage Moses' interest in her so that she wouldn't ruin their team-partnership
  • in a hilarious scene with Trixie's priceless monologue (using flattery, bribery, angry coercion and then a suggestion for patience), 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 'Mademoiselle.' 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, after Addie had discovered that Moze had spent the money owed to her for a brand-new Model 68 convertible to impress Miss Trixie, she and Imogene ingeniously devised, conspired 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 actually worked
  • back on the road again, Addie and Moses ran afoul after they swindled $625 dollars from bootlegger Jess Hardin (John Hillerman) and the bootlegger's twin brother, Sheriff Hardin (also Hillerman); the two were arrested, but then escaped from jail due to Addie's cleverness, and traded in their flashy convertible for a run-down, old Model-T pick-up truck; in Missouri, they finally were let go by the Sheriff after Moses was beaten up and all of his ill-acquired money was taken back
  • in a tearjerking scene, young Addie was dropped off at her relative Aunt Billie's (Rose-Mary Rumbley) place in St. Joseph, MO; as Moze removed her luggage, Addie left him an envelope in his car with a picture of herself - 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; when he stopped for a cigarette break, 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 there and had second thoughts after he had found her envelope on the front seat with 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!"

Opening Scene: At 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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