Thursday, February 10, 2011

726. The Purple Rose of Cairo (1985)

Running Time: 84 minutes
Directed By: Woody Allen
Written By: Woody Allen
Main Cast: Mia Farrow, Jeff Daniels, Danny Aiello, Edward Herrmann, Diane Wiest


With such a short runtime, I decided to slip in one more movie for today and move my Woody Allen Week festivities ahead a little further. This time around it was "The Purple Rose of Cairo", which is not one of my favorite Woody Allen films, but still a good enough movie.

Mia Farrow stars as Cecilia, a depression era wife, married to Monk (Aiello), who finds solace at the movie theatre...a place where she can forget her sorrows and escape into arms of a waiting picture. The new movie in town is The Purple Rose of Cairo and as always Cecilia must see it. She sees it, falls in love with the picture and ends up seeing it four more times. During her fifth viewing, one of the main characters of the film, Tom Baxter (Daniels) notices her and literally walks right out of the screen to meet her. He tells her that he's seen her there before and confesses his attraction to her. They run off together and Tom woos Cecilia with charming lines that only a character from a movie could come up with. However, back at the movie house, chaos ensues, as the rest of the cast are forced to halt their performances due to Tom's departure. The producers of the film are called and eventually fly into the small New Jersey town to see for themselves what's going on. They bring Gil Sheppard (Daniels, in a dual role) with them, the man who plays Tom in the movie, to help them sort the mess out. Gil eventually meets Cecilia and the two of them fall in love. Ultimately Cecilia is forced to choose between her husband, the real man Gil or the imaginary man Tom.


Allen has stated before that "The Purple Rose of Cairo" is his favorite amongst all of the films that he has made. Another quote I found from Allen, regarding this movie is that the whole reason he made "The Purple Rose of Cairo" is for the ending and I can definitely see why, as that was my favorite part too. I guess when you take into account the whole premise and the metaphors that I believe this movie is trying to get across, then I guess the whole concept of the picture is pretty clever. Cecilia is forced to choose between someone who genuinely loves her, but is imaginary or someone who doesn't genuinely love her (although she doesn't know this) but is a real man. Now that's a pretty interesting concept. I guess the most interesting part is how the imaginary man, who knows only what his character knows, and thus could not possibly know what love is, is the one who seems to really love Cecilia, while the real man, who knows of love, doesn't love her and really only seems to love himself. The entire concept is very intriguing...

...However, it just doesn't work for me. For me, Allen is at his best when he's dealing with modern time people who are fussing over their relationships. Throw in some comedy and that, for me, is when you have recipes for really fantastic Allen scripts. "The Purple Rose of Cairo" is Allen's most far fetched film post-Annie Hall, by far and when I watch Woody Allen I want to see real people and plausible events. To me "The Purple Rose of Cairo" just seemed silly for the most part and not something that Allen would normally do. To me, someone suggesting a movie where a movie character comes off the screen and proposes love to a real girl is just not Woody Allen type ideas. Now, granted, I realize that Woody was trying to make some points about true love and fake love and the escapism we can find in a good movie, and those points were made and well taken, but the plot to me is just too silly and thus effected my enjoyment.

RATING: 5.5/10 Not terrible or anything, just not my favorite Allen film by far and as far as the book goes, it's the worst of the four I've watched.


February 9, 2011 10:27pm


  1. Purple Rose is one of my favorite Allen films, its very sweet and seems to be delving into some dark corner of his memory....Plus I think he hits it on the head with FANS who live in films and not so much in their real lives...(I don't know who he could mean....)- While I understand what you are saying - its still one of my favorites. Farrow is fantastic.

  2. Well I can't argue with your "Farrow is fantastic" comment.

  3. An enjoyable 'pot boiler'.. just the thing for when you want something with heart, but not too deep. Worth a bit more than 5.5 perhaps?


SINS OF OMISSION - Entry #66: La piscine/The Swimming Pool (1969)

Running Time: 120 minutes Directed By: Jacques Deray Written By: Jean-Claude Carriere, Jacques Deray, Alain Page Main Cast: Alain Del...