Paper Moon (1973) - Rotten Tomatoes

Paper Moon1973

Paper Moon (1973)



Critic Consensus: Expertly balancing tones, Paper Moon is a deft blend of film nostalgia and finely tuned performances -- especially from Tatum O'Neal, who won an Oscar for her debut.

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Movie Info

A bible salesman teams up with an orphan girl to form a money-making con team in Depression-era Kansas.

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Ryan O'Neal
as Moses Pray
Madeline Kahn
as Trixie Delight
P.J. Johnson
as Imogene
Lila Water
as Minister's Wife
Noble Willingham
as Mr. Robertson
Bob Young II
as Gas Station Attendant
Jack Saunders
as Station Master
Jody Wilbur
as Cafe Waitress
Liz Ross
as Pearl, the Widow Morgan
Yvonne Harrison
as Marie, the Widow Bates
Ed Reed
as Lawman
Dorothy Price
as Ribbon Saleslady
Eleanor Bogart
as Elvira, the Widow Stanley
Dorothy Foster
as Edna, the Widow Huff
Lana Daniel
as Moses' Girl Friend
Dejah Moore
as Salesgirl
Ralph Coder
as Store Manager
Harriet Ketchum
as Store Customer
Desmond Dhooge
as Cotton Candy Man
Kenneth Hughes
as Harem Tent Barker
George Lillie
as Photographer
Burton Gilliam
as Floyd, the Desk Clerk
Floyd Mahaney
as Beau, the Deputy
Gilbert Milton
as Leroy's Father
Tandy Arnold
as Leroy's Brother
Vernon Schwanke
as Leroy's Brother
Dennis Beden
as Leroy's Brother
Hugh Gillin
as 2nd Deputy
Art Ellison
as Silver Mine Gentleman
Rosemary Rumbley
as Aunt Billie
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Critic Reviews for Paper Moon

All Critics (42) | Top Critics (10)

It is distinguished by its moral tone, and it is the tone that lifts it above the average flim-flam comedy.

March 14, 2021 | Rating: 3.5/4 | Full Review…

Shot in black and white by the versatile cinematographer Laszlo Kovacs, this has a mix of folksiness and precise craft that anticipates the Coen brothers, aiming to charm and succeeding.

September 14, 2018 | Full Review…

Part of an incredible 1970s career run for the director Peter Bogdanovich, Paper Moon remains a high point, not just for the talent involved behind the scenes and in front of the camera, but also for Hollywood.

May 14, 2015 | Rating: 5/5 | Full Review…
Top Critic

It is very fussy about period detail, and goes to some length to evoke the dim days of Depression America, while just about everything else is left to slide.

August 17, 2010 | Full Review…

It's everything a road picture is supposed to be, a life-changing personal journey, a quest, a bit old-fashioned and a hoot.

May 13, 2009 | Rating: 5/5

Tatum O'Neal makes a sensational screen debut.

March 26, 2009 | Full Review…

Audience Reviews for Paper Moon


Tatum O'Neal delivers an Oscar quality performance, stealing every scene she's in, in Bogdanavich's nostalgic evocation of Prohibition-era Depression days as a pair of con artists move through middle American farm country. "Times might've been hard," Bogdanavich seems to imply, "but at least we were together." The best road trips are never over with. Ryan is good in this as well.

Kevin M. Williams
Kevin M. Williams

Super Reviewer

Addie Loggins: She always has to go to the bathroom. She must have a bladder the size of a peanut.  A favorite of mine will always be this nice, little road movie, Paper Moon. It was a movie that I sat down and watched years ago at a young age and I really didn't expect much from it. After 10 minutes on the road with Addie and Moze, I was having more fun than I could have thought possible. I've seen it several times since and it always leaves a lasting impression on me. It's one of those movies that you just have to watch once in awhile. It makes me feel a variety of feelings.  A con man named Moses attends the funeral of a one time "friend" and is asked to escort the dead woman's daughter, Addie, to Missouri. He reluctantly accepts and we soon learn it was just to make a quick buck off of her. When Addie finds out, she demands her money. So they begin to pull little con jobs together as they make their way to Missouri. Along the way, we see their relationship grow and there's always a sense of wonderment about whether Moze is Addie's biological father. I mean, they do have the same jaw. What makes this movie is the amazing father-daughter duo of Ryan O'Neal and Tatum O'Neal. Ryan is extremely good as the con man, but Tatum ends up taking over the show. Her performance as Addie is funny and emotional. Tatum didn't just impersonate being an actress as many child actors and actresses will do; she was one. I am under the firm belief that her performance in this film is the best performance from a child actress, or actor for that matter, ever. I'm also under the firm belief that that will never, ever change. You can hear all the praise about her performance and you can know that she won an Oscar, but until you see her onscreen; you couldn't believe it could be as amazing as it is. If you want a fun movie, a depression era movie, a road movie, a father-daughter movie, or a grifter movie; watch Paper Moon immediately. It's an under-praised, under-seen, totally under-rated classic film, that entirely too few people know about. This is easily Peter Bogdanovich's best work I've seen. Give it a chance and I can say with pretty sting conviction that won't regret it. 

Melvin White
Melvin White

Super Reviewer

Father Ryan O'Neal teams up with his daughter Tatum for this comedy adventure set in the 30s. The story is good, it's fun, and very funny too. I highly recommend this movie.

Aj V
Aj V

Super Reviewer

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