The Purple Rose of Cairo (1985) - Rotten Tomatoes

The Purple Rose of Cairo (1985)




Critic Consensus: Lighthearted and sweet, The Purple Rose of Cairo stands as one of Woody Allen's more inventive -- and enchantingly whimsical -- pictures.

The Purple Rose of Cairo Trailers & Photos

Movie Info

Woody Allen blurs the the boundaries between the real and unreal in this unique comic fantasy. The scene is a small town in the mid-1930s. Trapped in a dead-end job and an abusive marriage, Cecelia (Mia Farrow) regularly seeks refuge in the local movie house. She becomes so enraptured by the latest attraction, an RKO screwball comedy called The Purple Rose of Cairo, that she returns to the theatre day after day. During one of these visits, the film's main character Tom Baxter (Jeff Daniels), pauses in his dialogue, turns towards the audience, and says to Cecelia, "My God, how you must love this picture." Then he climbs out of the movie, much to the consternation of the rest of the audience and the other characters on screen. Liberated from his customary black-and-white environs, he accompanies Cecelia on a tour of the town, eventually falling in love with her. Meanwhile, the other Purple Rose characters, unable to proceed with the film, carry on a discussion with themselves. Desperately, the RKO executives seek out Gil Shepherd, the actor who played the hero of Purple Rose. Shepherd (also played by Daniels), is sent to Cecelia's hometown to see if he can repair the damage.more
Rating: PG
Genre: Romance, Science Fiction & Fantasy, Comedy
Directed By:
Written By: Woody Allen
In Theaters:
On DVD: Nov 6, 2001
Orion Pictures Corporation


Mia Farrow
as Cecilia
Jeff Daniels
as Tom Baxter, Gil She...
Zoe Caldwell
as The Countess
John Wood
as Jason
Milo O'Shea
as Fr. Donnelly
Irving Metzman
as Theater Manager
John Rothman
as Mr. Hirsch's Lawyer
Stephanie Farrow
as Cecilia's sister
Alexander H. Cohen
as Raoul Hirsch
Karen Akers
as Kitty Haynes
Michael Tucker (I)
as Gil's Agent
Peter McRobbie
as The Communist
David Kieserman
as Diner boss
Ebb Miller
as Bandleader
Raymond Serra
as Hollywood Executive
George J. Manos
as Press Agent
David Tice
as Waiter
James Lynch
as Maitre D'
Sydney Blake
as Variety Reporter
Peter von Berg
as Drugstore Customer
Loretta Tupper
as Music Store Owner
Elaine Grollman
as Diner Patron
Wade Barnes
as Diner Patron
Victoria Zussin
as Diner Patron
Mark Hammond
as Diner Patron
Joseph G. Graham
as Diner Patron
Don Quigley
as Diner Patron
Maurice Brenner
as Diner Patron
Paul Herman
as Penny Pitcher
Rick Petrucelli
as Penny Pitcher
Peter Castellotti
as Penny Pitcher
Milton Seaman
as Ticket Buyer
Mimi Weddell
as Ticket Buyer
Tom Degidon
as Ticket Taker
Mary Hedahl
as Popcorn Seller
Margaret Thompson
as Movie Audience
George Hamlin
as Movie Audience
Helen Hanft
as Movie Audience
Leo Postrel
as Movie Audience
Helen Miller
as Movie Audience
George Martin
as Movie Audience
Crystal Field
as Movie Audience
Ken Chapin
as Reporter
Robert Trebor
as Reporter
Benjamin Rayson
as Moviegoer
Jean Shevlin
as Moviegoer
Martha Sherrill
as Moviegoer
Ray Serra
as Hollywood Executive
Edwin Bordo
as Moviegoer
Andrew Murphy
as Policeman
Tom Kubiak
as Policeman
David Weber
as Photo Double
Lela Ivey
as Hooker
Michael Tucker
as Gil's Agent
Show More Cast

News & Interviews for The Purple Rose of Cairo

Critic Reviews for The Purple Rose of Cairo

All Critics (35) | Top Critics (3)

It's a sweet, lyrically funny, multi- layered work that again demonstrates that Woody Allen is our premier film maker who, standing something over 5 feet tall in his sneakers, towers above all others.

Full Review… | May 20, 2003
New York Times
Top Critic

When discussing Woody Allen masterpieces, titles like Annie Hall and Hannah and Her Sisters are frequently cited (and rightly so), but where's the love for The Purple Rose of Cairo, a movie that even Woody himself considers among his top two or three?

Full Review… | February 20, 2015
Creative Loafing

In NJ, anything can happen!

Full Review… | March 22, 2011
Ozus' World Movie Reviews

Whimsical Woody Allen love note to '30s films.

Full Review… | December 15, 2010
Common Sense Media

Woody Allen's bittersweet comedy about the magical allure of movies in the Depression era was nominated for Original Screenplay Oscar, but it's premise is smiliar to that of Buster Keaton's 1924 silent.

Full Review… | August 4, 2009

Weird but wistful.

Full Review… | September 24, 2007
Combustible Celluloid

Audience Reviews for The Purple Rose of Cairo


Classic and classy Woody Allen. Tom Baxter, an adventurous movie character steps off the screen to woo Cecilia, a starry-eyed, Depression-era waitress and cinephile, but the character's portrayer, Gil Shepherd, a smooth, somewhat megalomaniacal rising star, is called in to counter-woo Cecilia so that the show can go on.

Woody's escapist fantasia is blissful yet tragic, blurring the lines between reality and make-believe, the haves and the have-nots, and love and truth.

It was nice to see young, wispy Dianne Wiest and bug-eyed Glenne Headley as slinky prostitutes. After watching so much cantankerous old Jeff Daniels on "The Newsroom," bright-eyed bushy-tailed young Jeff Daniels is a remarkable palate cleanser, with a great singing voice to boot! Mia Farrow is, of course, charismatic and vibrant with her delicate voice and damselly beauty.

The last scene of her, dejected by the wretched realities of her life yet still utterly captivated by Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers in "Top Hat," is just the most indelible final image in Woody's canon.

Alice Shen

Super Reviewer

"I just met a wonderful new man. He's fictional but you can't have everything."

In 1930s New Jersey, a movie character walks off the screen and into the real world.

There's no way you can't like the ingenuity of the movie, and the fun it has. It's about the joy of life, and love of the movies, and the difficulty to tell the difference sometimes (at least when in the theater). In some ways this is one of Woody Allen's lightest movies, and certainly lightweight compared to the more serious movies of this period (like the stunning gem, "Another Woman"). It's not zany like his earliest comedies ("Love and Death"). And it's not deeply observant and sometimes downright moving and brilliant like his best movies (like "Annie Hall" or "Crimes and Misdemeanors"). In that way it feels like what some novelists would call an "entertainment" to distinguish from their heavier masterpieces, and sometimes these are the most readable of all. Or the most watchable.

"The Purple Rose of Cairo" is inventive, warm, and touching. It's really high brow hilarious when the people on the screen react to the situation, not only because of the existential reality shift going on, but because they are all high brow types. Then there are the everyday scenes with Mia Farrow, the lead actress in the real world (usually), and support from Danny Aiello, really just a foil for the main romances (two) going on with Farrow (singular). It's not as complicated as it sounds, which might prove the elegance of Allen's writing. A beautiful, delicate movie without undo weightiness. Joyous, yes, even in its melancholy end.

Lorenzo von Matterhorn

Super Reviewer

One Allen film w/o himself or one of his numerous doppelgangers, which is a clue that here is a subject that is finally larger than Allen: his love of movies, that he freely shares with movie fans everywhere. So he takes one of the movie fan's most cherished desire (" ... I wish I could be there ... or that here was like there ...") and plays with it a little. Mia Farrow plays us, the fan, is our doppelganger, and the movies are a) better than real life, and b) but not real life. One of the better Allen films, Farrow's contented gazing at the screen too brief to be iconic, but it should be ...

Kevin M. Williams

Super Reviewer

The Purple Rose of Cairo Quotes

– Submitted by Stefan N (2 years ago)

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