Tuesday, August 18, 2009
Favorite All-Time Film Performances...#95
95 (TIE). Madeline Kahn and Tatum O’Neal, Paper Moon (Director Peter Bogdanovich, 1973)
Okay, so I cheated, slightly. It’s going to happen a lot when I want to combine two performances in one slot. Deal. Moving on, Paper Moon is a bit of a hodgepodge. It’s a Great Depression-era film, yet it has plenty of hilarious moments, due in great part to both Madeline Kahn and Tatum O’Neal. The former plays a stripper and the latter plays a young con artist. Addie (O’Neal) refuses to leave Moses’ (Ryan O’Neal, Tatum’s ne’er-do-well father) side until he gives her the $200 that was meant for her. Miss Trixie Delight (Kahn, see, even her character name inspires an immediate chuckle) gets all the attention from Moses when he picks her up (until Addie has something to say about it).
Kahn and O’Neal not only elicit lots of laughs within their performances, they also have moments of sincere emotions. O’Neal gets a lot of mileage from the final scenes of the film (“You still owe me $200”), while Kahn has her incredible monologue, on the hill with O’Neal, that ends with one of the funniest lines of all-time (and she’s delivered a few choice ones in her other films, especially her work with Mel Brooks). Both ladies were nominated for Supporting Actress at the Academy Awards and even though O’Neal was the one that took home the trophy (arguably a leading role and clearly only in this category because of her age, not screen time) both performances are too excellent to leave the other unrecognized. And yes, I know Bogdanovich had to do a lot of work to get that performance out of Tatum O’Neal, so props to him as well.