Film: Paper Moon

Paper Moon is a 1973 Paramount comedy-drama, based on the novel Addie Pray by Joe David Brown, directed by Peter Bogdonovich, and starring the father and daughter team of Ryan and Tatum O'Neal.

Set during The Great Depression, the movie follows Moses "Moze" Pray, a Con Man specializing in selling Bibles From The Dead, who is reluctantly tasked with delivering the recently-orphaned nine-year-old girl Addie Loggins to her aunt in Missouri. Despite vehemently denying that Addie is his daughter (which she likely is, considering Moses knew her "wild" mother well), he takes a liking to a her - even more so when he realizes his grifting looks more legitimate with a child by his side.

The film was nominated for Academy Awards in four categories: Best Screenplay Adaptation, Best Sound, and two nominations for Best Supporting Actress — Madeline Kahn and Tatum O'Neal herself. Tatum won, making her the youngest actor to win a competitive Oscar (she was 10).

This work provides the following tropes:

  • Acting for Two: John Hillerman plays both the Doniphan County Sheriff and the Bootlegger.
  • The Alleged Car: The truck Moses trades his 1936 Ford Convertible for.
  • All Men Are Perverts/Buxom Is Better: Trixie has no qualms about using her assets to get what she wants from men.
    Trixie: "So how 'bout it, honey? Just for a little while, let old Trixie sit up front with her big tits."
  • California Doubling: almost entirely averted: filmed on location (including interiors) in central Kansas and western Missouri.
  • Children Are Innocent: Ha ha. Basically explains why Moses and Addie do business that well.
  • Cosmetic Catastrophe: A non-visual example — Addie puts on some of her mother's perfume in an attempt to seem more grown up, but having never used perfume before she practically bathes in it. She's pleased when Moses obviously notices the smell, but becomes less pleased when he cracks open the windscreen in the car to get rid of it.
  • Deliberately Monochrome
  • Duels Decide Everything: Moses tries to swap his convertible for a pickup truck to ditch the sheriff chasing them; when the truck's owner refuses to swap, he proposes a "wrassling" match to resolve the matter.
  • Gold Digger: Miss Trixie, full stop.
  • High-Class Call Girl: Miss Trixie, though she doesn't have the refinement or discretion typical of the trope.
    Addie: "Imogene, what do you suppose Miss Trixie'd do if somebody offered her $25 to put out?"
    Imogene: "Ooo Wee! You crazy? For that much money, that woman'd drop her pants down in the middle of the road!"
  • Hustler / Short Con: Moses and Addie.
  • Intergenerational Friendship: Moses and Addie, although there's father-child undertones as well (duh).
  • Leeroy Jenkins: How Moses and Addie escape from the sheriff.
  • Little Miss Con Artist: Addie, who is very talented in the field.
  • Little Miss Snarker/Mouthy Kid: Addie is not a sweet-talking, always-smiling child.
  • Pragmatic Adaptation: several changes were made from the book to the movie (including moving the setting from the south to Kansas)
  • Quick Change: Done several times by both Moses and Addie, such as when Moses purchases ribbons for Addie and rapid-talks the befuddled clerk out of several dollars.
  • Random Smoking Scene: Child actress Tatum O' Neal plays a con artist in this film, alongside her own father, Ryan O' Neal. You would think that he would at least guard her from being exploited by the director, but no. The ten year old actress is seen smoking in several scenes. It's even visible on the friggin' poster! And she won an Academy Award for her portrayal!
  • Road Trip Plot: Moses and Addie Travel from Gorham, Kansas to Joplin, Missouri.
  • Sassy Black Woman: Trixie's maid, Imogene, is a subdued example; while she won't sass Miss Trixie to her face, she doesn't hesitate to perform small acts of subversion, such as recklessly tossing the bags right after Trixie warns her to be gentle with them.
  • Smoking Is Cool: Addie definitely thinks so.
  • Source Music: All the music in the movie has a diegetic source, usually Addie's radio or the car radio.
  • Spin-Off: Paramount produced a short-lived sitcom spinoff, starring Christopher Connelly and Jodie Foster. It aired on ABC in 1974 and lasted for 13 episodes.
  • Token Minority: Imogene is the only non-Caucasian character in the entire movie.
  • Too Much Information: Addie tells Moses that Trixie is sick to keep him away from her for a while, but he wants to see her. Imogene then mentions that it's due to her period, which causes Moses to immediately back off.
  • Troubling Unchildlike Behaviour: Addie acts more like an adult than a child. Moze's and the audience's image of her as cute and innocent is shattered when she whips out a cigarette.
  • Unusual Euphemism:
    • Miss Trixie has to "go winky think".
    • Imogene describes Trixie's period as "her woman time".
  • Villain Protagonist: Moses and Addie.
  • Work Off the Debt: This is the reason why Addie stays with Moses in the beginning — he uses the threat of a lawsuit to collect $200 from the family who killed her mother, then spends most of it to repair his car. Addie threatens to report him to the police unless he raises the money to pay her back.
    Addie: "I want my two hundred dollars!"
  • Your Cheating Heart: Addie and Imogene conspire to break up Moses and Trixie by getting him to catch her with the hotel manager.