Sunday, September 7, 2014

Movie Small Talk: "Father" & "Daughter" On The Run

Ryan O'Neal and Tatum O'Neal are name recognizable to younger generations mostly due to how their lives, individually and collectively, merged into complicated tabloid fodder.

It has been at least a couple years since I noticed their faces plastered over the rag mags, but for tabloids and the paparazzi to have cared to feature this father and daughter in the first place means that their names would have been previously recognizable from some other fame.

Is none of this ringing a bell? Take a minute, open up a new tab in your preferred internet browser, then search their names together, and see the type of results that pop up.

All caught up now? Okay. So, other than family drama, what were these two originally famous for, you ask?

Movie fans will recognize Tatum as the only girl on the boys team in the brassy 1976 classic sports flick, The Bad News Bears. For many years, Ryan O'Neil traversed Hollywood in numerous films, but his name will always be synonymous as the dude from Love Story.

Then there is the flick that brought the two together. Before the tabloid circus, they were just a regular father and daughter. Well, a true to form Hollywood father and daughter - these two weren't just playing tea party, they were starring in Oscar winning flicks together.

Paper Moon was another one of my, what people like to call, "blind spots", in the form of movie viewing. After hearing about it from other fans and reading about it in every type of classic movie history book over the years, last week I decided to finally check out what the fuss was about.

Within ten minutes I had quickly decided its inclusion as a classic flick is definitely warranted. Without a doubt,  the playful dynamic the father/daughter duo show off on screen is the highlight. Watching it now only makes it more of a shame that these two had to have the difficult times of their relationship put on display.

The story revolves around Moses Pray (Ryan O'Neal), a con man who is going around the country predominately preying on the families of the recently deceased. (See what they did there with his character's name? Clever.) His main scam comes in the form of playing the part of a door-to-door bible salesman. However, if this guy's around, keep your wits and wallet close. He always has got a way of weaseling even the brightest folks out of a buck.

That all rings true until he finds the one person he can't outsmart - a young girl named Addie (Tatum O'Neal). She had recently lost her mother and at the funeral guess who shows up - Mr. Pray. He claims to be a long lost friend, but might just be out scouting the small service as a ruse.

With no other family in the area, Pray promises to drive Addie several towns over, so she can live with her aunt. Turns out though, that once the two are on their way, Addie takes a liking to his lifestyle and shows that she can be just as conniving. Pray realizes he has found quite the partner in crime and the two set off down the road, going town to town earning their way in the world one swindle at a time.

From the beginning this is such an entertaining story to tell and the dynamic performances of these two fine actors just make the story explode off the screen. Their endless banter back and forth to each other is hilarious and a treat to watch. Fittingly, Tatum O'Neal won herself a best supporting actress Oscar, and, at 10-years-old, still holds the record as the youngest winner. Plus, she totally won the night by rocking a little tuxedo to accept her award!

Other than that achievement though, this movie was utterly snubbed. It did receive a couple other nominations (for the superb writing and sound), but I can't believe the masterful director (Peter Bogdanovich) and Ryan O'Neal weren't nominated, and worst of all, that it wasn't up for best picture!  Out of those nominees Paper Moon could have at least replaced A Touch Of Class - who in this day and age has even heard of that "alleged" best picture of 1973? I bet those voters are kicking themselves now.

Paper Moon is another excellent example of movies from a different time that need to still be brought to the attention of modern viewers and appreciators. I can't think of any reason someone would not love a night spent watching this story. Let's rally for the cause of old flicks that deserve repeat attention.

I'm mad that I've spent 27 years on earth without it. Don't make the same mistake and find a copy/digital streaming version of Paper Moon for your next movie night.

The O'Neal name no longer triggers visions of tabloid covers - I instead envision a man and a little girl, traveling down a dirt road on to their next adventure.

Until next time.

post signature

No comments:

Post a Comment

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...