All Time Classics: The Purple Rose of Cairo (1985)

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There is something quite magical about seeing a movie in a theater that is difficult to describe if you are not a film lover. Sitting there in the dark with stereo sound all around you and large images.  You end up becoming immersed in the characters and their universe.  There have been a few movies I have watched over and over again because I really liked the people in them and their world.  Each time you watch them it’s like revisiting some old friends.  Cecilia (Mia Farrow) has the same kind of love for the cinema but what happens to her is something quite extraordinary.

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Having to live in the depression era can’t be easy for Cecilia.  It’s also even harder when her husband Monk (Danny Aiello) treats her like shit, and her job doesn’t respect her much either.  In order to escape from her harsh reality she escapes into the safety of the movies every afternoon.  Her favorite one is “The Purple Rose Of Cairo” and the character of Tom Baxter(Jeff Daniels).  One afternoon during a matinée Tom notices Cecilia and decides to jump off the screen and into her life. This causes a commotion on-screen because the story can’t continue without him there.  While both of them are staring a whirlwind romance full of excitement.  The other characters are doing their best to get Tom back on-screen to help finish the story.  Gil Shepard(Jeff Daniels)  the actor who played Tom also comes to town to help contain the character he created.

Purple Rose TomPurple Rose Jeff

Woody Allen has written a very creative and somewhat somber fantasy tale for the dreamer in all of us.  It’s very easy to see why Cecilia would get wrapped up in the world that was displayed in the movie house. It was her window out of her horrible life and it is that way for me when I watch certain movies too. How cool would it be to have a five dollar shake at Jack Rabbit Slims or see one of Max Fischer’s plays at Rushmore.  Movies have that sort of effect on me and I’m sure other people too.  When Tom came off the screen and into her world the window became a door and they could both see into each others’ worlds.  Tom liked the real world because he was free to do what he wants…any old tiiime. (Cue the track by The Soup Dragons) while Cecilia was immersed in all the glitz,glamor and enjoyed very much that for once in her life.  A man truly loved her.  When Gil announces that he too is in love with her.  Cecilia has a tough choice to make.  Go to the fantasy world with Tom or stay in the real world with Gil.  Both men seem to really love her and can each provide a great life for her.  It would be a tough decision for anyone to make.

SPOILER  ALERT!!!! 

If you have not seen this movie before please stop before reading any more.  I will be revealing the ending.  You have been warned.

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Well at the end Cecilia decides to stay in the real world with Gil and send broken-hearted Tom back to the screen to finish “Purple Rose of Cairo“.  She goes home to pack and tell Monk that she’s leaving him.  When she arrives the next day to meet with Gil,she is told that he has left to go back to Hollywood without her.  Yes he was just using her to get Tom back on the screen so he can continue on with his career.  On the plane we see that he is not real happy with his choice and knows very well that he broke her heart.  Still he had a choice to make and that one was work over love.  I’m sure there are many people out there who had to make the same choice before and one day you may be faced with that same choice as well.  After Cecilia hears the bad news she shuffles into the movie house where a Fred Astaire movie is now being played.  Feeling broken and upset that she left Tom.  She sits down and soon becomes so immersed in the movie that despite all her sadness she still manages to smile and become lost in the world again.

Purple Rose Mia

The cast is perfect and if you have only seen Jeff Daniels in “Dumb and Dumber“.  You really need to see this movie.  He makes both roles very unique and different from each other. It is really quite the performance  Danny Aiello is also great, but there really isn’t much for that character to do expect be the reason for Cecilia wanting to escape.  As the main character Mia Farrow brings in a lot of different emotions with this character and all of them feel genuine too.  Yes, I felt upset when I first saw this because I really liked this character and wanted her to have a happy ending.  But as I look at this again.  I’m glad we got the ending that we do.  If life was perfect and everything was handed to us.  There would be nothing to challenge us and help us try harder.  At least Cecelia got to spend a night in one of her favorite movies and none of us will ever experience  that sort of thing unless we find a room like it at CONvergencene.

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About The Vern

I love movies and I enjoy writing about them too. They both go pretty much hand in hand with each other and it's fun to discover new classics. I co host the podcast The Film Pasture and As You Watch. While also contributing reviews and articles to other great sites when I can.
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13 Responses to All Time Classics: The Purple Rose of Cairo (1985)

  1. This is one of my favorite Woody Allen movies. Of course, I have at least ten favorite Allen movies, but this is one of them. His movies have the ability to provide not only escape, but inspiration.

  2. The Vern says:

    I save the movies with Woody Allen actually in them after the ones that don’t. Most of my friends see him and get annoyed

  3. Chris says:

    I already wrote a comment here, but apparently it didn’t save.

    Agree the performances are good. I enjoyed the “what if” scenario in Purple Rose of Cairo(great title by the way). I think anyone who loves film can appreciate the magical power of escapism through cinema.

    • The Vern says:

      Sorry for the late response Chris. It saved I just forgot to respond to it before sooner. The what if scenario is really good. I especially like it when both the actor and the character both
      fall in love with the same woman. It’s a very different and yet very satisfying love triangle that I have never seen before. Thanks for reading.

  4. This is absolutely one of my favorite movies and most people have never heard of it or seen it. Great one to get non-Woody lovers or novices to watch to see a different side of his work other than Annie Hall and Manhattan.

  5. The Vern says:

    I don’t hate that movie, but Its not one I would watch constantly. I’ve mentioned this before. I consider Woody Allen movies to be like beer. Some of them I like more then others, but if someone offered me a mug of some Woodsman Ale. I’ll gladly accept

  6. Pingback: Crimes and Misdemeanors « THAT MOMENT IN

  7. I’m with you on Woody Allen. Like some, don’t like others. This one is good but I guess Midnight in Paris is his only film of his i truly love

  8. The Vern says:

    Thanks man, Yeah I think the ones that Don’t have Woody in the lead role except Annie Hall and Sleeper are great ones

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