Paper Moon (1973)

Peter Bogdanovich’s love affair with the past served him well in this adaptation of Joe David Brown’s novel Addie Pray. Not only does he lovingly re-create rural Kansas and Missouri during the Depression, but his work reflects the best of Hollywood’s top golden age directors. The deep-focus black-and-white landscapes capture the scenic expanses of John Ford’s films (at one point the leads pass a movie theatre showing Ford’s 1935 Steamboat Round the Bend), while the fast-paced banter between con artist Ryan O’Neal and real-life daughter Tatum, as the tough little girl who becomes his partner in crime, echoes the comic dialogue in Howard Hawks’ films. One critic even referred to the picture as Preston Sturges’ last film. Bogdanovich had been eager to work with O’Neal again after they made What’s Up, Doc? (1973) and convinced O’Neal’s daughter to take a stab at acting. He got such a good performance out of her that she won the Oscar for Best Supporting Actress, even beating co-star Madeline Kahn, who plays the carnival dancer with whom O’Neal memorably takes up.

Dir. Peter Bogdanovich