"I just met a wonderful man. He's fictional, but you can't have everything."
- Cecilia (Mia Farrow) to her sister (Stephanie Farrow)
Sight and Sound - 06/01/1985
"...Allen's sweetest and funniest version of the afterlife....Everything in this movie makes heavenly sense..."
New York Times - 03/01/1985
"...Enchanting....A sweet, lyrically funny, multilayered work that again demonstrates that Woody Allen is our premier film maker..."
New York Times - 12/29/1985
Included in the New York Times "10 BEST FILMS OF 1985"
Premiere - 07/01/2006
"[A] gentle, amusing, and bittersweet fantasy."
Wall Street Journal - 04/23/2010
"As the two men vie for Ms. Farrow's heart, we get a sweetly eloquent metaphor for the elusive chemistry that bonds movies and their audiences."
The film that Woody Allen has said is his favorite of all that he's made, THE PURPLE ROSE OF CAIRO unites the competing tendencies in his work towards realism (be it comic, as in ANNIE HALL, or dramatic, as in INTERIORS) and comedic fantasy (such as SLEEPER or BANANAS). Cecilia (Mia Farrow) lives in New Jersey during the Great Depression, which appropriately describes her mood: she works a dead-end job as a waitress that supports her and her abusive, deadbeat husband Monk (Danny Aiello). Her only release is at the cinema, where she repeatedly goes to see a trite romantic adventure called "The Purple Rose of Cairo." But when Tom Baxter (Jeff Daniels), the lead character of the film, steps off the screen and falls in love with her, Cecilia has to deal with the disjoint between her own life and the glamorous world on the screen.
Although the film begins realistically--there is close attention paid to period setting and costuming--the conceit of a film character emerging from the screen is one Allen would rarely use except in his outright comedies. However, THE PURPLE ROSE OF CAIRO blends dramatic and fish-out-of-water comedic situations to explore the disparity between the real world and fantasy. What is really at issue in the film is the positive psychological effects of the fantasies of the traditional film world. The film is the product of a true film lover, and stands as Allen's defense of the entertainments often derided by critics and other filmmakers of his stature. He received an Academy Award nomination for the screenplay.
As a beleaguered waitress and battered wife in depression-era New Jersey, Cecilia's only escape from her dreary life is her endless moviegoing. Fantasy and reality merge in a startling and comical fashion when the hero of a film Cecilia's watched a thousand times emerges from the screen and starts squiring her around town. A pack of panicked studio executives pursue the errant leading man while the cast of disgruntled characters stranded on-screen await his return.
Essential Cinema |
Period Piece |
A Jack Rollins and Charles H. Joffe production.
Color by Deluxe.
Additional cast members: Irving Metzman (Theater Manager); Alexander H. Cohen (Raoul Hirsch); Camille Saviola (Olga); Annie Joe Edwards (Delilah); Peter McRobbie (The Communist); Juliana Donald (Usherette); David Kieserman (Diner Boss); Eugene Anthony (Arturo); Ebb Miller (Bandleader).