Today is Peter Bogdanovich's 67th birthday. I'm fond of several of the movies he's directed: The Last Picture Show, The Cat's Meow, even What's Up Doc? in a shallow sort of way. But there's only one of his movies I've loved enough to watch twice in a month, and that's Paper Moon. I rented the DVD after hearing producer Polly Platt speak to a class I was taking ... and a few days later, I found out that Bogdanovich would attend a screening of the 1973 film at Alamo Drafthouse. (In fact, there was even a limited opportunity to have dinner with him afterwards, but that event sold out so quickly that I never got the chance to consider it.) As delightful as the movie was on DVD, the theater print was in excellent shape and made Paper Moon even better. It was also interesting to hear both Platt and Bogdanovich discussing the movie, and one another, so closely together. Their memories didn't quite match on some details.
When people talk about Bogdanovich, they tend to gush over The Last Picture Show, gripe about the commentary tracks he's done for classic films (I only made it through about 30 minutes of his Bringing Up Baby commentary), or gossip about his personal life. I hardly ever hear anyone mention Paper Moon, and it's a wonderful film, understated and sweet. The dialogue is perfect (Alvin Sargent adapted the first half of the book Addie Pray), the Depression era is rendered authentically by the photography and production design, and I've never seen Ryan or Tatum O'Neal come close to their performances in this movie. Paper Moon also includes some great supporting performances from Madeline Kahn, John Hillerman, and Burton Gilliam (all of whom were later in Blazing Saddles).
[Image via Cinema Pulpspotting, which includes a number of other interesting movie stills that feature pulp magazines.]