CinemaLit: Paper Moon (1973) | Mechanics' Institute

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CinemaLit: Paper Moon (1973)
CinemaLit September 2023: – The Hollywood New Wave

Friday, September 29, 2023 - 6:00pm

September 29 – Paper Moon (1973), 102 minutes, directed by Peter Bogdanovich, starring Ryan O'Neal, Tatum O'Neal, and Madeline Kahn.

Ryan O'Neal is scam Bible salesman Moses Pray (what a name!). Real-life daughter Tatum plays a nine-year-old orphan and Moses' grifting partner. Together they swindle widows across Depression-era Kansas and Missouri in Peter Bogdanovich's exquisitely observed comedy-drama. Brilliantly photographed in sharp-focused black and white by László Kovács, the period detail recalls Dorothea Lange photos. To add to the ample cinematic pleasures of Paper Moon, incomparable Madeline Kahn nearly steals the show as the funny-sad Trixie Delight, an "exotic dancer" with her own agenda.

September 2023 CinemaLit – The Hollywood New Wave

1973: Gasoline was 39 cents a gallon and mailing a first-class letter cost eight cents. Gordon Liddy and James McCord were found guilty of conspiring in the Watergate break-in. President Nixon ceased bombing in North Vietnam, but resumed bombing in Laos. And the American film industry was in what would later be called the Hollywood New Wave, or Hollywood Renaissance.

In the late 1960s and early 1970s, unusual circumstances allowed ambitious directors, including a group of young iconoclasts, to make personal films with minimum studio interference. Artistic vision stood alongside uncertain market forces to produce a dazzling era of American filmmaking.

In September, CinemaLit will screen four of the period, all from 1973 and now 50 years old, but each as startling and original as they were at their release. Join us for Sidney Lumet's Serpico, Hal Ashby's The Last Detail, Robert Altman's The Long Goodbye, and Peter Bogdanovich's Paper Moon.



Matthew Kennedy, CinemaLit’s curator, has written biographies of Marie Dressler, Joan Blondell, and Edmund Goulding. His book Roadshow! The Fall of Film Musicals in the 1960s, was the basis of a film series on Turner Classic Movies.

I don't have a favorite film,” Matthew says. "I find that my relationships to films, actors, genres, and directors change as I change over the years. Some don't hold up. Some look more profound, as though I've caught up with their artistry. I feel that way about Garbo, Cary Grant, director John Cassavetes, and others."

Classic films have historical context, something only time can provide,” Matt observes. “They become these great cultural artifacts, so revealing of tastes, attitudes, and assumptions.”


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CinemaLit Films

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Future CinemaLit Films

Sep 22 - 6:00pm

CinemaLit: The Long Goodbye (1973)
CinemaLit September 2023: – The Hollywood New Wave

Oct 6 - 6:00pm

CinemaLit: Don't Look Now (1973)
CinemaLit October 2023: – Shades of Gothic

Oct 13 - 6:00pm

CinemaLit: The Haunting (1963)
CinemaLit October 2023: – Shades of Gothic

Oct 20 - 6:00pm

CinemaLit: The Pit and the Pendulum (1961)
CinemaLit October 2023: – Shades of Gothic

Oct 27 - 5:00pm

CinemaLit Out & About - Edgar Allan Poe: Myths, Mysteries, & Misconceptions
CinemaLit October 2023 – Shades of Gothic

Nov 3 - 6:00pm

CinemaLit: Heaven Knows, Mr. Allison (1957)
CinemaLit November 2023: – Full Color Dramas