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The Purple Rose of Cairo (1985)


Average Rating: 7.8/10
Reviews Counted: 31
Fresh: 28
Rotten: 3

Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.

No critic reviews yet...

Release Date: Mar 1, 1985 Wide


Average Rating: 3.9/5
User Ratings: 19,667



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), … More

Romance , Science Fiction & Fantasy , Comedy
Directed By:
Written By:
Woody Allen
In Theaters:
Nov 6, 2001
Orion Pictures Corporation


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Critic Reviews for The Purple Rose of Cairo

All Critics (34) | Top Critics (3) | Fresh (28) | Rotten (3) | DVD (10)

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

sublimely engaging

February 26, 2005
Shadows on the Wall

Classic Woody. A great cast and a great story.

December 18, 2004
Nolan's Pop Culture Review

Inventive, even romantic Woody Allen.

October 25, 2004
Kansas City Kansan

The most overlooked of Allen's great films.

Full Review… | October 8, 2004
Arizona Daily Star

A thoroughly enchanting work of art by one of our finest moviemakers

Full Review… | August 18, 2004
Spirituality and Practice

Awesome Woody Allen

September 26, 2003

Clever Woody Allen comedy-fantasy.

August 24, 2003
Mountain Xpress (Asheville, NC)

One of Allen's oddest and most charming experiments.

May 11, 2003
San Francisco Examiner

Its satirical destruction of the fourth wall disguises a bittersweet lesson on Hollywood dreams and the unpleasant realities they hide.

January 16, 2003
Flipside Movie Emporium

Lighthearted and full of whimsy

Full Review… | October 21, 2001

A lot of meanings float around in this outwardly simple fable.

Full Review… | January 1, 2000

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


It's clear Woody Allen knows how to pick and choose a strong cast. Mia Farrow is irrefutably underrated; nobody has seemed to ever understand her potential, and I strongly feel that she is, in fact, one of the most outstanding Hollywood actresses from the latter half of the twentieth century. Not only is she beautiful, her delivery is brilliant, and her chemistry with Jeff Daniels-who delivers just a slightly less powerful performance-is grand.

What more can I say about THE PURPLE ROSE OF CAIRO? It isn't perfect, but it's very much close. I'm talking about a sheer motion picture that represents the 1930s in perchance the utmost picturesque, vivid manner possible. The writing is guaranteed pleasure for those who don't generally view film as a work of art, but for just about any cinephile watching this is bound to get a magical thrill similar to the kind a young child receives when he or she enters a candy shop. In just two, simplistic words, it's magnificent.

read it all at

Alexander Diminiano

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 ...

Apeneck Fletcher

Super Reviewer

The Purple Rose of Cairo Quotes

I just met a wonderful new man. He's fictional but you can't have everything.
– Submitted by Stefan N (15 months ago)

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