Near the end of PAPER MOON (which was the first example I ever saw of the New Hollywood cinema — I was about Tatum O’Neal’s age in the movie, and I was startled to hear a fellow child us a rude word, but I digress) Mr. Ryan O’Neal puts a cigarette in his mouth.
Mr. Ryan O’Neal has recently suffered a terrible beating at the hands of John Hillerman and assorted henchmen.
So, before lighting his cigarette, Mr. Ryan O’Neal transfers it to the other side of his mouth, because he’s got a split lip and it hurts.
The gesture is telling because of course Mr. Ryan O’Neal doesn’t really have a split lip, he just has a bit of makeup on his face, but this telling gesture makes us think he really does have a split lip, like maybe Peter Bogdanovich and John Hillerman beat him up in a fit of method acting.
For this and a thousand other moments in this film, I will always admire Mr. Ryan O’Neal.