Farrow is a depression-era waitress whose fantasy comes true when her screen idol steps off the screen to be with her. The actors are left in a scene they can't escape and the movie-makers are panicked when they try to get... more » the actor back.
"Take a Woody Allen movie where Woody politely stays BEHIND the camera. Add a perfectly cast Mia Farrow as a waif-like dreamer of a girl, living in the grinding poverty of the 1930's Depression and married to an blustering, brutal man. Top it off with a brilliant dual performance by Jeff Daniels who is a cinematic film hero who steps out of the screen and the actor who plays this hooky playing fictional character. Cecilia (Mia Farrow) works as a waitress (on the verge of being fired). Her life is grim, living in a tenement with her no-account husband (Danny Aiello). Her one pleasure is the movies that she attends daily. Her favorite is "The Purple Rose of Cairo," and the explorer character "Tom Baxter" brings radiance to her eyes that never leave him. After multiple viewings, one day "Tom" falters in his lines, seems distracted, then steps out of the film and joins Cecilia in the audience. The cast and audience are suitably stunned; the cast enjoining him to get back on the screen so they can finish the movie, and the audience grumbling they didn't pay good money to watch the cast arguing among themselves. "Tom" is resolute, and out they walk, he in his pith helmet and explorer togs, Cecilia radiant. The movie industry is appalled worried about litigation and insurrection if characters start walking off the screen. Gil Shepard, the actor who played"Tom" is sent to the scene to talk "Tom" into getting back onscreen where he belongs. "Tom" clearly is innocent of what the "real" (as opposed to "reel") world is about. He is in love with Cecilia and she allows that he "is the perfect man. Of course, he's fictional." Real life "Gil," Tom, and Cecilia meet. The ending is surprisingly intense. Jeff Daniels is dazzling as Gil/Tom. He handles both roles to perfection. The interaction among Daniels, Farrow, and Aiello is flawless. Much as I wanted to thoroughly despise Aiello as the low-life husband, he managed to make me laugh and feel sorry for him with his bravado performance. All the jokes and humor work in "The Purple Rose of Cairo," which isn't the case in many Allen movies. I believe this is Woody Allen's valentine to his beloved movies. It couldn't be better. Even if you are a dedicated Allenophobe, see this movie. You won't be disappointed.
One of Woody's best
R. Geatz | Washington, DC USA | 03/28/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Woody Allen has long admired the works of both Ingmar Bergman and Federico Fellini, and while he has done other movies that intentionally (and not very successfully, in my opinion) mimic those two great directors, I think "Purple Rose of Cairo" is his better homage to Fellini. He captures the same poignant combination of humor and pathos as Fellini does in his earlier masterpieces "La Strada" and "Nights of Cabiria." In fact, the concluding scene of Cecilia (Mia Farrow) staring at the movie screen, her eyes transforming from despair to hope (as her life has just gone down the toilet) is a mirror of the concluding scene in Fellini's "Cabiria." This is also Allen's most loving tribute to "the movies." Movies allow us to escape to a better world and--at least temporarily--to escape our selves. The cast is great--especially the wonderful supporting characters who seem right out of the Depression era, as are those who play the movie characters who get stranded on-screen when one of their colleagues steps out into the real world. While this may not be one of Woody Allen's most popular films, it is a near-perfect little gem."
One of my favorite Woody Allen films, by far!
D. Pawl | Seattle | 12/04/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
""The Purple Rose of Cairo" is one of those rare films whose concept is intriguing as the end product. "Rose" is witty, thoughtful, masterfully directed and acted, and, for once, we get a chance to enjoy Woody Allen's great talent as a skillful director, without his setting foot on the screen (not even in a cameo--like Alfred Hitchcock did in all of his films).
Cecilia (Mia Farrow), is a waitress at a diner, during a time in the 1920s when the Great Depression has set in, times are tough, jobs are scarce and the people are looking for an escape. What better way to seek a diversion than in a movie theatre, where one can live a life of romance, comedy, drama and adventure, vicariously through the larger-than-life actors on the projecting screen?
Cecilia's all-consuming passion for films is her one refuge from the grim life she has built with her abusive, philandering husband (Danny Aiello). One of her favorite films, by far, is "The Purple Rose of Cairo." When she likes a film she will see it over and over again, almost nightly. Furthermore, when she isn't in the movie theatre watching the film she knows almost line-for-line, she discusses the plot and the smoldering actors with her co-workers. Cecilia may have stepped away from the fantasy of the silver screen, once the picture has ended, but it lives on in her heart long afterwards.
One night, when she goes to "The Purple Rose of Cairo" for the upteenth time, the adventuresome and brawny Tom Baxter, the romantic lead (Jeff Daniels), sees the starstruck Cecilia sitting alone in the theatre, and literally steps off of the screen to be with this mysterious and beautiful woman whose life revolves around films and melding life on screen with life in the day-to-day world. This has never happened before, and Tom causes quite a stir in the film world, as well as up on screen, because the characters literally cannot leave the scene they were acting in until he returns. Also, the actor who portrays Tom Baxter is stunned and concerned that his clone, or, rather, his character has taken on a life of his own in the 3-D world!
This film truly has staying power from beginning to end. It is packed with witty dialogue, clever insight and plenty of warm, over the top humor that is, oftentimes, uproariously funny. You can tell that Woody Allen wrote and directed this film as a tribute to the films that inspired him--perhaps, to become the great director and screenwriter that he is today. "The Purple Rose of Cairo" is truly an underrated masterpiece."
What an original film!
Leonard L. Riggs Jr. | Christopher, Il United States | 05/02/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I hadn't seen this movie since 1985 when it first came out and was excited to find it on DVD and it was a great as I remembered! This is an original fantasy that is a lot of fun. Mia Farrow is charming as Cecilia, a woman in the depression era who is addicted to movies. Jeff Daniels plays the character from the movie "The Purple Rose of Cairo" whom she fantasizes about. The fun begins when Jeff Daniels character walks off the screen and into Cecilia's life.....but reality soon sets in when the REAL actor gets wind that his character has walked off the screen.....the movie is simply wonderful and forgoes the typical happy ending....favoring REALITY over fantasy. Watch it you won't be disappointed. Even if you don't care for Woody Allen movies, I know you'll love this one!"
The Best of Mr. Allen
Leonard L. Riggs Jr. | 12/25/2001
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Every element from humor to heartbreak make this ingenious film one of the best ever. Mia Farrow gives us both giddy childishness and unspeakable sadness in what is surely one of her best performances. I am not an Allen fan per se and was surprised at the emotional impact this had on me when it was released back in the 80's. I must have seen it 5 or 6 times and was grateful that Allen sat this one out in terms of acting.
The cast is superb and it emphasizes just how the cinema has long been the escape from a world that can be unbearably cruel."