Sunday, September 21, 2008

`I want my $200!!' ...

`But I don't have it,' he says. 'Theeeeeeen GET IT,' she says.

I couldn’t sleep last night. That would seem to be a problem, but belief in silver-linings is a powerful thing.

“Paper Moon” has been a favorite film of mine since I was toddling around as a 5 or 6-year-old movie-dependent little person. I must’ve driven my family crazy back then, as PM was up there with Ferris Bueller and Christmas Story in terms of repeat viewings. I repeated at 6 a.m. this morning, while I was tossing and turning.

Ryan and Tatum O’Neal star as a Depression-era duo of con artists. (Perhaps the economic environment subconsciously drove me to it.) The two are kin in real-life (“kin” being the old-timey term thrown out often in the film, so it’s on the brain), who have ridden through headlines and suffered controversies that make their starring together all the more poignant –- or, perhaps, painful, given their on-screen chemistry and considerable off-screen conflicts.

We open with a funeral scene, Addie Loggins’ (Tatum) mother’s burial. The movie’s shot in black and white (though the film came out in the 70s), lending it a vintage authority and making you notice the care in shots’ aspects a little more earnestly.

Moses Pray shows up at the funeral. He’s come to pay respect to a woman he met in a bar room. After he’s come chugging up to the site, the neighbor ladies ask if he has any relation to Addie, with whom they see some resemblance. He says there isn’t a chance, and he needs to head to Missouri because of his Bible business (Moses sells Bibles to unassuming customers, widows he reads about in the newspaper who are willing to pay him for premium Bibles that their dead husbands supposedly bought them).

As it turns out, Addie’s only known relative lives in Missouri, so he’s talked into taking her with him.

She quickly picks up the Bible-peddling business.

We learn how Addie’s mother died in an accident involving a VIP’s drunken-driver run into a tree. Moses gets $200 (yes, two hundred) to keep it under wraps. But the precocious, astute Addie overhears how he got the $200 and confronts him in my favorite scene in all of movie history.

We meet Trixie Delight at a carnival, and Moses starts averting his attention to her, much to Addie’s dismay. We find that she’s got the bladder the size of “a peanut” (a problem, considering Moses and Addie are on the road all day long) –- another of my favorite scenes.

I don’t know, it’s simply one of my most re-watchable movies. References to Jack Benny abound, you hear someone be characterized as “that little white speck on top of ol’ chicken shit,” and your heart warms. Watch it.


Charles said...

"Just around the corner, there's a rainbow in the sky..."

This is still one of Randy Quaid's greatest roles.

Paramendra Bhagat said...

"....a 5 or 6-year-old movie-dependent little person..."

My official birthday is not my real birthday, it is the birthday of my favorite movie star, Amitabh Bachchan.

I grew up in a culture that does not celebrate birthdays. So when it was time for me to go to this fancy school in the capital city when I was around nine or 10, my father wrote down a seemingly random birthday on the papers as required. It took me way more than a decade to realize it was Amitabh's birthday.

Sarkar RajSharabiThe Amitabh Hairstyle