The Purple Rose of Cairo


The Purple Rose of Cairo

Critics Consensus

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



Total Count: 35


Audience Score

User Ratings: 20,304
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The Purple Rose of Cairo 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.

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Mia Farrow
as Cecilia
Jeff Daniels
as Tom Baxter, Gil Shepherd
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
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News & Interviews for The Purple Rose of Cairo

Critic Reviews for The Purple Rose of Cairo

All Critics (35) | Top Critics (2) | Fresh (32) | Rotten (3)

Audience Reviews for The Purple Rose of Cairo

  • Jan 18, 2014
    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 S Super Reviewer
  • Sep 19, 2013
    'The Purple Rose of Cairo' is such a cute, short and honest film, and it works because Woody Allen sticks with its concept all the way through, not opting out for the sake of realism. It has such a fantastical charm about it that you'll find it hard not to smile, and Mia Farrow and Jeff Daniels are both just so innocent and whimsical in their roles that they make one of the great movie romances. 'The Purple Rose of Cairo' ends on a serious note that might seem depressing at first, but it's actually quite optimistic when you think about it.
    Stephen E Super Reviewer
  • May 13, 2013
    Woody Allen's The Purple Rose of Cairo has a highly creative and intelligent idea behind it. It wasn't just a simple the screen comes to life story, the witty dialogue made this far superior to a plain story. I feel the first half really did express and let this creativity flow. The second half which is more romantic was less down my alley. After about 45 minutes I became more and more out of tune with the film. Which is unfortunate since I was highly involved at first. Mia Farrow is once again a great actress, and is sexy. In fact I'd watch the film just for her. This is one of Woodys films that he doesn't star in as well as direct/write. I think it would've been a good idea to have him play the director of "The Purple Rose of Cairo", but that didn't happen so after 28 years nothing you can do. It was a feel good movie, but unfortunately didn't have enough ideas to keep it running. 3 stars
    Daniel D Super Reviewer
  • Apr 27, 2013
    Woody Allen's The Purple Rose of Cairo is a fresh and creative idea that celebrates the very idea of film escapism. A poor woman living in New Jersey named Cecilia goes to the movies every week to escape from her hectic job as a waitress, when one day, one of the characters from the film "notices" she appeared at the theater to see his film five times. He steps off the screen and goes with her into the real world. It's a cool concept, and it's done with heart and a clear love for movies. Despite this movie being filmed in 1985, it seems like Woody Allen directed the actors in such a way to make them act like they were in a movie from the 30's (which is when the film takes place). So it seems like you're watching a movie that is much older than it actually is, which is interesting but comedic at the same time. When the fictional movie character fights Cecilia's husband, it's clear that Allen was tributing the now cheesy style of old black and white films. The ending further capitalizes on the idea of people escaping to the movies when things get bad, or when we make bad decisions. Like alcoholics drink alcohol to forget their problems, as drug addicts do drugs, Cecilia (along with the normal people in society) uses movie theaters as an escape- and what a beautiful escape it is.
    Kevin M Super Reviewer

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