Paper Moon (film)

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German title Paper moon
Original title Paper moon
Country of production United States
original language English
Publishing year 1973
length 102 minutes
Age rating FSK 12
Director Peter Bogdanovich
script Alvin Sargent
novel based on: Joe David Brown
production Frank Marshall ,
Peter Bogdanovich
music Richard Portman ,
Les Fresholtz
camera László Kovács
cut Verna Fields

Paper Moon is an American tragicomic road movie from 1973 based on the novel Addie Pray by Joe David Brown . It was filmed as a black and white film for Paramount Pictures by director Peter Bogdanovich ; the main roles are played by Ryan O'Neal and his daughter Tatum O'Neal .


Kansas during the Great Depression in 1935: the young Moses Pray At the funeral of a woman is persuaded by the guests present, the nine year-old daughter of the deceased, Addie Loggins to relatives in St. Joseph to bring, he's going to Missouri to drive. Moses takes on the task imposed on him reluctantly, but declares himself ready. He starts the journey in his automobile with Addie, whom he does not know. First he extorted $ 200 from the sawmill owner Mr. Robertson, whose brother caused the death of Addie's mother by threatening to seek compensation for other damages. The girl listens to the conversation at the door and shortly afterwards demands the money that is actually due to her back from Moses. However, he has already had his vehicle repaired with part of the money. However, since Addie insists on this money and also suspects that Moses is her father (which the viewer is left in the dark about throughout the film - ironically, this faked father-daughter relationship actually exists outside of the film), Moses begins his usual activity to pursue.

Moses turns out to be a con man who sells Bibles to widows of men who have recently died with the widows' first names imprinted as the husband's alleged “last” order. He also commits other scams to get money. Addie quickly becomes involved in his business, so that both appear as a team. The coercive community becomes a community of convenience, although initially numerous problems dominate the coexistence: Addie smokes despite her age and is unusually stubborn; Moses only has his own welfare in mind. Nevertheless, a friendship gradually develops between the two.

At a fair, Moses soon met the dancer Trixie Delight, who was performing in seedy dance shows for five dollars. He offers her and her 15-year-old servant Imogene a ride to the next town because he has fallen in love with Trixie. Although Addie befriends Imogene, she is jealous that she is no longer Moses' only companion and forges a plan with Imogene: They cleverly arrange a rendezvous for the dancer with the receptionist at their hotel and, apparently by chance, allow Moses to witness the scenery which prompts him to leave immediately with Addie and leave Trixie behind. Addie gives Imogene $ 30 so that she can go back to live with her parents.

When Moses and Addie camped a few days later in another inn near the state border with Missouri, they noticed the strange behavior of a guest who often left the hotel lobby at night. They find out he's selling smuggled bottles of whiskey and find his secret stash. Without the black marketer's knowledge, they steal the entire inventory and offer the smuggler the delivery of new bottles the next morning. At the agreed meeting point, they sell him his own whiskey and earn over $ 600. Pleased with the good business, Moses and Addie want to travel on, but shortly afterwards they are stopped by a police patrol. The police claim they received an anonymous tip informing them of the smuggling business. Moses vehemently denies being involved in such a thing, but has to come to the police station with Addie. There they are both interrogated and their property searched for the $ 600 compensation. Addie has the money hidden in her hat with presence of mind, where the officers can't find it. In a minute of carelessness, Moses and Addie pile in the car. The policemen go into pursuit but do not catch the two of them.

Soon after, Moses swaps his car for a farmer's delivery vehicle and arrives with Addie in Missouri, where he can expect no further harassment from the police. Arrived in St. Joseph, Addie and he plan a final coup together, in which they want to meet a third party at a meeting point at different times. When Moses steps out onto the street, the Kansas sheriff and his henchmen stand in his way. It turns out that the whiskey smuggler is the sheriff's brother and that the police officers want to avenge the fraud in spite of their in Missouri criminal authority. They brutally beat Moses, steal all his money and leave the injured man on the street where Addie finds him.

A few hours later, Moses drops the girl off with her relatives and gives her a brief goodbye. He himself leaves the city. Addie is welcomed and looked after by her aunt in a friendly manner, but she does not feel comfortable in the new situation. When Moses stops to smoke on the highway leading out of St. Joseph, he sees Addie approaching him in the rearview mirror, who has run away from her new home. He sharply rejects her, to which Addie replies that he still owes her $ 200. Suddenly, Moses' vehicle rolls down the hill and the two have to hurry to jump up and drive on. Immediately resolved, the two continue their journey together.



The film plot only includes the first half of the novel Addie Pray . The second part, which tells Addie's story with her aunt and uncle, was not included in the script. Peter Bogdanovich opposed a sequel to Paper Moon . However, a television series of the same name based on the film emerged, for the cast of which Bogdanovich was responsible. In his opinion, the fact that it only made 13 episodes during the broadcast period from September 1974 to January 1975 was due to the fact that the stories could be seen in color. According to him, this has destroyed the impression of authenticity. The role of Addie Loggins took over there with Jodie Foster a child star at the time , Moses Pray was played by Christopher Connelly .

Joe David Brown's literary source for Paper Moon had sold over 100,000 copies before it was made into the film. Bogdanovich refused to use the novel's title for his film as well, referring the new title to Harold Arlen 's contemporary song It's Only a Paper Moon of the same name , which appears in the opening credits of the film, and to a fairground attraction shown in the film, where you can be photographed against the background of a paper crescent moon. After the success of the film, additional editions of Addie Pray appeared under the film title.


After Paramount Pictures had given the green light for a film adaptation of Addie Pray , Paul Newman and his daughter Nell Potts were initially in discussion as Moses and Addie; John Huston was to direct. After this constellation did not materialize, Bogdanovich was hired, whose wife at the time, Polly Platt, brought up Tatum O'Neal as a cast for the female lead. As a result, film producer Robert Evans actually wanted Jack Nicholson or Warren Beatty to appear as Moses; Evans left the project shortly afterwards and Bogdanovich decided to produce the film with Frank Marshall himself. Just before shooting started, Tatum's father, Ryan O'Neal , who was with Bogdanovich on Is' was, Doc? had worked together to win the bid. Madeline Kahn had also starred in this film and was therefore acquainted with Bogdanovich. Without having her audition for the role of Trixie Delight, she was hired by him.

Randy Quaid , who only has a small role (almost a cameo ) in the film , was already well known at the time, but was still willing to play out of friendship with the director. He, too, had previously worked on two films by Bogdanovich, as did John Hillerman . In this context, it is worth mentioning Hillerman's appearance in two roles: at the beginning he only played the sheriff in St. Joseph, after two weeks of diet and minor optical transformation, he then also shot the scenes as a smuggler, who is the brother of the Sheriffs is.

Bogdanovich later turned a third film with Ryan O'Neal, in which his daughter Tatum played again. It was released in 1976 under the name Nickelodeon , but it failed at the box office.


The film was shot by Bogdanovich in black and white , as was his previously acclaimed breakthrough film The Last Performance (1971) . He intended to use this to evoke visual authenticity, as the film is set in the 1930s when the first color films were just beginning to hit the screen. Black and white also symbolically focuses on issues that were important at the time, such as poverty, prohibition and Franklin D. Roosevelt's thesis of the New Deal . On the advice of Orson Welles , cameraman László Kovács chose a red color filter for consistently sharp recording of the images , with which he achieved strong contrasts between, for example, the sky and the faces of the people depicted.

Many scenes were shot without editing , which requires very long and complex torques, in which the actors have to play their roles with great concentration over long periods of time. As a result, Tatum O'Neal had to deliver an impressive performance in her first film in order to be credible, as the effect could hardly be achieved through editing effects or the possibilities for concealing small errors were only insignificant. In addition, the film consistently takes the position of her role. Except for one scene, it can be seen throughout the entire film.


The name of the protagonist Moses Pray is an allusion to his fraudulent trade. As an employee of the "Kansas Bible Company" he sells Bibles and is particularly pious. His first name Moses, in the original English version Moze, refers to the biblical figure of the same name ; “Pray” is the English term for praying. Trixie's last name, Delight, translates as lust and delight, which reflects the character of the figure.


Lutz Arenz was responsible for the dialogue book and Michael Miller was responsible for the dialogue direction.

role actor Voice actor
Moses Pray Ryan O'Neal Randolf Kronberg
Addie loggins Tatum O'Neal Ursula Pavlovski
Trixie Delight Madeline Kahn Anita Kupsch
Deputy Hardin / Jess Hardin John Hillerman Edgar Ott
Imogene, Trixie's maid PJ Johnson Susanne Lissa
Hotel receptionist Floyd Burton Gilliam Hans-Werner Bussinger
Pastor James N. Harrell Siegmar Schneider
Sheriff with widow Ed Reed Martin Hirthe
Hairband saleswoman Dorothy Price Tilly Lauenstein


Oscar 1973

  • Best Supporting Actress (Tatum O'Neal)


  • Best Supporting Actress (Madeline Kahn)
  • Music (Richard Portman, Les Fresholtz)
  • Screenplay (Alvin Sargent)

Golden Globe 1973

  • Best Young Actress (Tatum O'Neal)


  • Best movie
  • Best Actor (Ryan O'Neal)
  • Best Actress (Tatum O'Neal)
  • Best Supporting Actress (Madeline Kahn)
  • Best Director (Peter Bogdanovich)


  • Joe David Brown: The story of Addie and Long Boy and how they both happily lived at other people's expense (OT: Addie Pray ). Rowohlt, Reinbek near Hamburg 1972, ISBN 3-498-00438-7 .

Web links

Individual evidence

  1. See
  2. See
  3. ^ Paper Moon. In: German synchronous file , accessed on October 28, 2019 .