The Purple Rose of Cairo (1985)

The Purple Rose of Cairo (1985)

Taglines: She’s finally met the man of her dreams. He’s not real but you can’t have everything.

Cecilia is a waitress in New Jersey during the Depression and is searching for an escape from her dreary life. Tom Baxter is a dashing young archaeologist in the film “The Purple Rose of Cairo.” After losing her job Cecilia goes to see the film in hopes of raising her spirits. Much to her surprise Tom Baxter walks off the screen and into her life. There’s only one problem..Tom isn’t real. Meanwhile Hollywood is up in arms when they dicover that other Tom Baxters are trying to leave the screen in other theatres. Will Tom ever return and finish the film or will he decide to stay in the real world?

The Purple Rose of Cairo is a 1985 American romantic fantasy comedy film written and directed by Woody Allen, and starring Mia Farrow, Jeff Daniels, and Danny Aiello. Inspired by Sherlock, Jr., Hellzapoppin’, and Pirandello’s Six Characters in Search of an Author, it is the tale of a film character named Tom Baxter who leaves a fictional film of the same name and enters the real world.

The film was released on March 1, 1985 to critical acclaim. It won the BAFTA Award for Best Film, while Allen received several screenwriting nominations, including an Academy Award, a BAFTA Award and a Writers Guild of America Award. Allen has ranked it among his best films, along with Stardust Memories and Match Point.

The Purple Rose of Cairo (1985) - Mia Farrow

About the Story

Set in New Jersey during the Great Depression in 1935, the film tells the story of Cecilia (Mia Farrow), a clumsy waitress who goes to the movies to escape her bleak life and loveless, abusive marriage to Monk (Danny Aiello), whom she has attempted to leave on numerous occasions.

The latest film Cecilia sees is a fictitious RKO Radio Pictures film, The Purple Rose of Cairo. It is the story of a rich Manhattan playwright named Henry (Edward Herrmann) who goes on an exotic vacation to Egypt with companions Jason (John Wood) and Rita (Deborah Rush). While in Egypt, the three meet archaeologist Tom Baxter (Jeff Daniels). Tom is brought back for a “madcap Manhattan weekend” where he falls head-over-heels for Kitty Haynes (Karen Akers), a chanteuse at the Copacabana.

After Cecilia sits through the film several times, Tom, noticing her, breaks the fourth wall, and emerges from the black-and-white screen into the colorful real world on the other side of the cinema’s screen. He tells Cecilia that he is attracted to her after noticing her watching him so many times, and she takes him around her New Jersey town. Later, he takes her into the film and they have a great evening on the town within the film. The two fall in love. But the character’s defection from the film has caused some problems.

The Purple Rose of Cairo (1985)

In other copies of the film, others have tried to exit the screen. The producer of the film learns that Tom has left the film, and he flies cross-country to New Jersey with actor Gil Shepherd (Jeff Daniels) (the “real life” actor playing the part of Tom in the movie). This sets up an unusual love triangle involving Tom, Gil, and Cecilia. Cecilia must choose between them and she decides to choose the real person of Gil rather than the fantasy figure of Tom. She gives up the chance to return with Tom to his world, choosing to stay with Gil and have a ‘real’ life. Then she breaks up with her husband.

But Gil’s professions of love for Cecilia were false—he wooed her only to get Tom to return to the movie and thereby save his own Hollywood career. Gil abandons Cecilia and is seen quietly racked with guilt on his flight back to Hollywood. Having been left without a lover, job, or home, Cecilia ends up immersing herself in the frothy escapism of Hollywood once again, sitting in a theater watching Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers dancing to “Cheek-to-Cheek” in the film Top Hat, forgetting her dire situation and losing herself in the film.

The Purple Rose of Cairo Movie Poster (1985)

The Purple Rose of Cairo (1985)

Directed by: Woody Allen
Starring: Mia Farrow, Jeff Daniels, Danny Aiello, Irving Metzman, Stephanie Farrow, David Kieserman, Elaine Grollman, Victoria Zussin
Screenplay by: Woody Allen
Production Design by: Stuart Wurtzel
Cinematography by: Gordon Willis
Film Editing by: Susan E. Morse
Costume Design by: Jeffrey Kurland
Set Decoration by: Carol Joffe
Art Direction by: Edward Pisoni
Music by: Dick Hyman
Distributed by: Orion Pictures
Release Date: March 1, 1985