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20 of 21 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Though absent on screen, This is Woody's Best.
You can feel Woody even though you can't see him. A brilliant romantic movie which completley surprises you on the fourth performance. (You'll find out what I mean). Jeff Daniels plays two parts, his character in the Movie at the local Movie House and the Actor behind the Character. Mia Farrow is in love with both of them and wants to escape her bum of a husband and her...
Published on 12 Feb. 2002 by

3.0 out of 5 stars Padding
Well directed and very evocative of the 1930's this is not as good as you think it is going to be.

Some of Woody Allen's films are one-joke - this is one of them - a joke that the script can't support for very long

Better at home than on the big has not the punch of his 1972-1979 output- a good early performance by Jeff Daniels is offset by...
Published 5 months ago by Rupert The Bear

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20 of 21 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Though absent on screen, This is Woody's Best., 12 Feb. 2002
This review is from: The Purple Rose of Cairo [DVD] (DVD)
You can feel Woody even though you can't see him. A brilliant romantic movie which completley surprises you on the fourth performance. (You'll find out what I mean). Jeff Daniels plays two parts, his character in the Movie at the local Movie House and the Actor behind the Character. Mia Farrow is in love with both of them and wants to escape her bum of a husband and her going nowhere life. If this sounds confusing then you had better get the movie so that all will be revealed. The less you know about it the better the effect. Funny, Tearful and easy viewing
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Heaven, I'm In Heaven, 9 Feb. 2012
Keith M - See all my reviews
This review is from: The Purple Rose of Cairo [DVD] (DVD)
Woody Allen's exquisite 1985 fantasy The Purple Rose Of Cairo really does have the potential to transport cinema audiences to heaven (or, at least, onto, or into, the cinema screen). In what I consider to be Allen's tribute to the great Hollywood filmmakers of yesteryear, such as Frank Capra, Preston Sturges and Ernst Lubitsch, The Purple Rose Of Cairo is a magical study of cinema's power to obsess its audiences, even if there is an inevitable jolt back to earth waiting for us in the end. In fact, the film was inspired by the Buster Keaton film Sherlock Jnr. and the 1941 comedy Hellzapoppin'. The film won the BAFTA for Best Film and was nominated for the Best Screenplay Oscar (losing to Witness).

From the opening theme of Irving Berlin's Cheek To Cheek, we know we're in for a fantastic cinematic voyage over the next 80 minutes. Set in New Jersey during the Great Depression, Mia Farrow (in another wonderful performance for Allen) stars as dippy, forgetful and cinema-obsessed waitress Cecilia, whose entire life is centred around the latest Hollywood comedies, romances and adventure stories, showing at her local cinema. Even the antics of two-timing waster and gambler, husband Monk (Danny Aiello, in probably his second best screen performance ever, behind his Sal in Do The Right Thing) cannot distract Cecilia from her movie addiction. Cecilia's obsession reaches new heights when Egyptian adventure yarn The Purple Rose of Cairo comes to town, and film character Tom Baxter (Jeff Daniels in, along with that in Something Wild, one of his best performances) literally comes down off the screen to whisk Cecilia away. The situation is further complicated when the film's producers get wind of the situation, sending Baxter's alter ego, actor Gil Shepherd (unsurprisingly also played by Daniels) to the cinema in an attempt to persuade Baxter to get back on screen.

Allen has devised a marvellous and poignant homage to cinema in Purple Rose, focusing for extended sequences on the interaction between film cast and audience, as they bitch away at one another, eventually leading to the cinema manager's threat to turn off the projector - 'No, don't', replies one of the cast, 'It gets black and we disappear'. There is a series of hilarious scenes as film character Baxter discovers the imaginary nature of his 'screen world' - including discovering that his 'screen money' is fake and that cars do not simply move on sitting in the driver's seat, but require a key to start. Another marvellous scene occurs where Baxter takes Cecilia onto the screen and into the film, convincing nightclub maitre d' Arturo (Eugene Anthony) that the rule book has been completely torn up, as he breaks into a virtuoso tap dance routine. Also worthy of mention is a great cameo performance by Dianne Wiest as prostitute Emma, as she whisks Baxter off to her brothel (this was the first of a series of great Wiest performances in Allen films).

In The Purple Rose of Cairo, Allen reinforces his credentials as a writer and director who is as masterful at romantic whimsy as he is at out-and-out comedy. The illusion created in Cecilia's mind is brilliantly conveyed in a romantic scene between Cecilia and Gil, as, following a passionate embrace, Cecilia laments 'I'm confused. I'm married. I just met a wonderful new man, he's fictional, but you can't have everything.'

For me, the precise reason for the appeal of the Purple Rose of Cairo is difficult to pinpoint. It is, essentially, a magical, romantic cinematic trip with an appeal similar to Powell and Pressburger's I Know Where I'm Going. Whatever the reason, the film's appeal is totally infectious and I rate it, along with Manhattan, Crimes and Misdemeanours and Broadway Danny Rose, among Allen's finest films.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Woody`s wistful wonderland, 25 April 2014
GlynLuke (York UK) - See all my reviews
This review is from: The Purple Rose of Cairo [DVD] (DVD)
A lovely film, set in the depression years of the thirties, from Woody`s finest and most varied period, in the eighties, when Mia Farrow was his muse and proved herself a surprisingly versatile actress who`d try anything - see Radio Days and Broadway Danny Rose for further proof. In fact, see them anyway!
That clever actor Jeff Daniels (at his best in the more recent The Squid and the Whale) is the pith-helmeted adventurer `Tom Baxter`, who literally steps out of a film into the one we are watching - or rather the one Mia`s dowdy abused housewife Cecilia is watching. She`s movie-mad, you see, seeing the same film over and over, until Tom `notices` her in the cinema audience.
She then meets the real actor, played of course by Daniels too, who`s playing the part in the film she and we are watching. Got that? The whole rollercoaster is planned and executed by Allen with virtuosic flair, with few flashy reminders of how clever it all is, simply a whirligig plot that leaves you reeling (pun intended).
Other parts are, as usual with Woody, perfectly cast and acted, particularly Danny Aiello as Mia`s boorish husband. He`s seldom been better.
Dianne Wiest and a young Glenne Headly turn up in a touching brothel scene, and the actors left behind on the black and white cinema screen within the film we`re watching are a splendidly motley lot, including our own John Wood, veteran Van Johnson, and the excellent Edward Herrmann.
The scenes of the film-within-a-film actors squabbling, complaining they`ve been abandoned by Baxter, are very funny, brilliantly and wholly credibly written by Allen.
It all adds up to one of Woody`s very best films, a slight enough folly in the end, but a richly satisfying, witty, ultimately rather forlorn urban adventure, with Mia`s wilted flower blooming briefly to delightful effect.

One to keep.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The purple rose is worth searching for., 13 Feb. 2011
Philoctetes (England) - See all my reviews
This review is from: The Purple Rose of Cairo [DVD] (DVD)
Woody Allen made a number of surprisingly short films in the 1980s. This, Stardust Memories and Zelig all clock-out at under 90mins. Purple Rose hasn't the genius of the other two, but as a bittersweet comedy about the hopeless fantasies Hollywood engenders in its audience, it si the film most likely to appeal to Allen newcomers.

Mia Farrow gives a very nice performance as the downtrodden waitress with a brutish husband who's life becomes enchanted when the dashing explorer in new film Purple Rose Of Cairo suddenly walks out of the screen to talk to her; he is quickly followed by the character's actor who arrives from Hollywood in a desperate bid to persuade his character to go back to work. Jeff Daniels is splendid in this dual role.

A sweet film which is funniest when observing the plight of the actors stranded upmon the screen without the young hero, and the irritated spectators demanding an explanation from the theatre manager. I liked it when farrow's character jumps through the screen and enters the world of the movie for a night of adventure. Some of the fish-out-of-water stuff is wearying though and the film almost drags at the point the real woman has to keep explaining about the real world to the visiting character.

As I say, occasionally funny and bittersweet rather than poignant. The movie's message: Hollywood might foster illusions, but they're some consolation during hard times.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of five bona-fide Woody Allen masterworks..., 31 Jan. 2006
This review is from: The Purple Rose of Cairo [DVD] (DVD)
The Purple Rose of Cairo shows us just how vital a filmmaker Woody Allen is when removed from the bumbling, neurotic caricature, who often overwhelms the broader aspects of his work. Along with Love and Death, Annie Hall, Crimes and Misdemeanours and Bullets Over Broadway, The Purple Rose... is a bona-fide masterpiece; one of the greatest American films of the last fifty years, and further proof (as if it were needed?) that Allen is a filmmaker equal to (if not greater than) the more celebrated likes of Coppola, Spielberg, Kubrick, Scorsese, et al. Like those films aforementioned, Purple Rose demonstrates that Allen can take on board the influence of European cinema and combine it with a style of his own, creating a film that relies heavily on character and conversation, and yet, is totally enjoyable and occasionally very funny.
The script is really one of Allen's best, combining a great and imaginative story with intelligent characters and believable scenarios... while the whole thing is made just that little more enchanting through the evocative recreation of depression era New Jersey, and the mannered, though no less impressive directorial flourishes from Allen. The cast is perfect too, managing to bring Allen's world to life, as well as presenting us with a believable emotional centre on which the director can navigate the more elaborate elements of the plot. Farrow has never been better as the put-upon dreamer swept up in her love of cinema, and, in particular, her dashing "leading man in the making" Gil Shepherd. As a result, the entire film, from almost the first frame to the last, can be seen as a treatise on the idea of escape and escapism, and how these ideas correlate with Farrow's character Cecilia, who, whilst attempting to escape from her life of drudgery, work and her cheating husband, becomes infatuated with Shepherd's latest film (also called The Purple Rose of Cairo) and his character Tom Baxter, a fearless adventurer cast adrift in the complicated world of New York's glittering social milieu.
Allen's script, like his later film Crimes and Misdemeanours, is full of self-reference and contains many different layers that compliment the more obvious elements of the script perfectly. For example, Allen plays with the idea of mirroring; having a character within the film (within the film) brought out of their natural habitat, and into a world that is completely alien. This is again referenced later when the same character (Tom Baxter) is brought out of that environment for a second time and dragged into the real world. Later, Cecilia is taken back into the film (within the film) on an adventure that mirrors the real life adventure the pair had previously been caught up in, before the third component of the story (Gil) is brought into the world of Cecilia... a place that is completely alien to his world of mansions, film premieres and celebrity parties!! These elements might sound confusing within the context of a review, however, the way Allen so casually places them within the plot is amazing. He never lets his ideas dwarf the story at hand, keeping the focus on the characters, whilst, simultaneously, playing a number of subtle games around them.
The concept of fictional characters invading the world of the living (and vice-versa) is never fully explained, so really, it requires a great leap of faith and a little suspension of disbelief on the part of the audience to really buy into the 'deeper' aspects of the film. As a result, I think the film can be interpreted on two different levels... either the whole thing is just a series of unexplainable phenomenon, making The Purple Rose of Cairo a fantasy film as enchanting as Who Framed Roger Rabbit or E.T., or the whole thing can be seen as a figment of Cecilia's imagination. The film ends in such a way that Allen seems to be suggesting that none of these events ever took place... creating a circular narrative that makes it easy for us to see the journey that the character has (supposedly) undertaken to be completely redundant; something that has merely destroyed her faith in the world more so than before, and perhaps, left her even more desperate to experience the warming glow and friendly familiarity of the nearest cinema screen.
As well as Farrow in the lead, there is fine support from Jeff Daniels as the exuberant character Tom Baxter and his bemused and frantic cinematic creator Gil - who manages to give the film a sense of heart, but also a bitter undercurrent - as well as small roles for Danny Aiello (as Cecilia's bullying husband Monk) and Allen regular Diane Wiest (as a local prostitute who helps Tom find his feet in the real world). There's also some nice cameos from Edward Herrmann, Van Johnson, Zoë Caldwell and Milo O'Shea as some of Tom's bewildered supporting characters, left to sit and (literally) chew the scenery, as they find themselves without their pivotal lead player. The ending might be a little too downbeat for some... not wanting to give too much away, but Alan does have a tendency to leave his characters high and dry, sacrificing the feel good factor in favour of some important life lessons, and the intrusion of real-life's cynical streak.
Regardless, The Purple Rose of Cairo is a fantastic film... one that draws you in with it's subtle and believable characterisations and eventually takes you completely by surprise with the deep emotional resonance of the plot. For me, it's one of Allen's masterpieces, and is proof that (along with Bullets Over Broadway) that he doesn't need to be in the film to deliver solid entertainment. It's certainly not as light and as frivolous as say, Love and Death, Annie Hall or Broadway Danny Rose, but it's lighter than the likes of Interiors, Another Woman and Manhattan. As a result, it'll probably appeal to the kind of people who don't normally appreciate Allen's particular blend of cinema, but really, regardless of personal tastes, this is a fantastic film... one that probably deserves to be worshipped alongside the likes of The Godfather, Taxi Driver or anything that Spielberg has directed since Jaws.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Extra! Character walks off screen for love struck waitress!, 1 Dec. 2003
Lawrance Bernabo (The Zenith City, Duluth, Minnesota) - See all my reviews
During the Great Depression Cecilia (Mia Farrow) is trapped in a dreary life with a soulless husband (Danny Aiello), so she escapes to the movies. There she becomes hook on "The Purple Rose of Cairo," which she watches so many times that Tom Baxter (Jeff Daniels), the dashing archaeologist of the film becomes so distracted he decides to leave the film and walks off the screen into Cecilia's life. Suddenly Cecilia is happy, even if Tom is just a fictional character. Meanwhile, Hollywood is in an uproar as other Tom Baxters are threatening to walk out of the picture as well, leaving it to actor Gil Shepherd to try and reign in the character he created.
Some critics dismissed this Woody Allen film as a flip on Buster Keaton's silent classic "Sherlock Jr.," a surreal fantasy about a film projectionist and amateur detective who climbs into a movie. But so what if the idea is not new? The chief charm here is what Allen does with the idea. The romantic triangle between Cecilia, Tom and Gil is pleasant enough, but for me what is hysterical is what is going on back at the theater with the characters in the movie who are waiting to find out what happens. Henry (Edward Herrmann) is worried they will turn off the projector and make everything dark, while Jason (John Wood) insists the movie is really about him so they do not need Tom to come back. Rita (Deborah Rush) points out she is rich and does not have to put up with this nonsense while the maid, Delilah (Annie Joe Edwards) objects to people being in the wrong reel. Of course the time comes for Cecilia to go through the looking glass to join Larry (Van Johnson) and the Countess (Zoe Caldwell) at the swank nightclub, where Kitty Haynes (Karen Akers) is quite upset to find Tom with another woman. The idea that movies are truly "screen plays" that the actors play out several times a day is carried off marvelously. Meanwhile, the audiences are staying at the theater to see what happens next. The non-movie is as interesting as the real thing.
Mia Farrow actually has the Woody Allen part in this Woody Allen movie in which Woody Allen does not appear. The accent is a bit much (not as grating as her comic turn in "Radio Days"), but Cecilia is clearly a sweet soul and there is something about the way the light of the movies plays with her eyes that captures her happiness at finding the escape. Of course, reality, not to mention the Hollywood studio system, are out for money and not happiness, so that there cannot be a storybook ending. "The Purple Rose of Cairo" is more than a one-joke film, although certainly it is more streamlined that your average Allen film. Besides, despite the enticing impulse to do so, I do not see this as an indictment of Hollywood or the para-social interaction of real audiences with fictional characters. This is a charming little fantasy with enough of an element of reality to keep the dream from staying alive.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Hugely funny and enjoyable, but with a lingering blue note, 16 Feb. 2014
Sebastian Palmer "sebuteo" (Cambridge, England) - See all my reviews
This review is from: The Purple Rose of Cairo [DVD] (DVD)
Woody Allen has made a lot of films, from Radio Days to Sweet And Lowdown, Bullets Over Broadway to the The Curse of the Jade Scorpion, that look back to a bygone era of American culture with great nostalgia. In fact the title of another of his films, Stardust Memories, aptly conjures up the vibe these movies have.

I must admit I love this sort of thing. Jack Kerouac, most famous for On the Road, was really always looking in the rear-view mirror, and his first novel, The Town and the City, captures a similar feeling for the America of the '30s and '40s to that which Allen clearly loves. Farrow is great as the klutzy waitress and daydreaming cinema goer, and Danny Aiello is excellent as her abusive depression-era idler of a husband. In fact the whole cast are superb, including all of the 'film within a film' cast of the titular made-up movie.

The themes of fantasy and reality are common fare for Woody, but here they are handled with a very winning mixture of reality - he often visits this era without referencing the Great Depression, but here he does acknowledge it - and out-and-out 'magic realist' fantasy. Jeff Daniels, as both actor Gil Shepherd and his Purple Rose character, explorer Tom Baxter, is superb. But the key to the movies poignancy lies in the contrast between Farrow's Cecelia, and her wishes to escape a drab reality, along with Baxter's desire to experience any kind of reality, and the desires of many of the other characters to as quickly as possible return to normality.

In the end this makes the film as sad as it is funny. And that, for me, is one of the many things I love about Woody Allen. I have to confess that, as a major Woody-phile, I find it odd that his work can, when so often so very similar, divide opinion quite radically. This, however, seems to be an instance where almost everyone is agreed he hits the spot.
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5.0 out of 5 stars "He's fictional, but you can't have everything...", 31 July 2013
This review is from: The Purple Rose of Cairo [DVD] (DVD)
I consider myself to be a fan of Woody Allen's work - I particularly enjoy 'Annie Hall', 'Manhattan', 'Radio Days', 'Match Point' and 'Midnight in Paris', as well as his early stand-up material - but his filmography is so expansive that there are still so many of his films that I have yet to see. Finding myself with quite a bit of spare time on my hands, I made the decision to gradually make my way through the 20 disc box set of Allen's films, which I purchased some time ago. It's likely I'll have to sit through some duffers but at least it will prevent me from falling into the trap of aimlessly wandering about the house, making unnecessary beans on toast and masturbating. Probably.

'The Purple Rose of Cairo' is an absolute gem of a film, with all the charm, quirkiness and romantic whimsy of Allen's recent outing, Midnight in Paris but with a considerably darker conclusion. Released in 1985 to a quietly warm response from critics, the film is set during the American Depression of the 1930's and stars Mia Farrow as Cecilia, a clumsy waitress who takes regular trips to the cinema to escape from the melancholy of her life and the loveless, abusive marriage she finds herself trapped in. Her life is bleak but, within the confines of the cinema, she feels truly liberated. Cecilia becomes particularly infatuated with a romantic adventure called - yes - 'The Purple Rose of Cairo', the story of a rich Hollywood playwright who takes a trip to Egypt with his companions, meets the charming archaeologist Tom Baxter (Jeff Daniels) and brings him back to New York for a `madcap Manhattan weekend', where he falls in love with a Copacabana club singer. During her fifth visit to see the film, the archaeologist turns to the camera and tells Cecilia that he has noticed how in love she seems to be with the film and professes his attraction to her. Stepping out from the black-and-white world of the film, Baxter convinces Cecilia to show him the real world and the two run from the cinema together, leaving the audience - and the other characters in the picture - positively baffled. The two begin to fall in love but not without consequence. The other characters in the film are unable to continue the story with Baxter and are left bewildered and aimless, playing cards and shouting abuse at the audience. The actor Gil Shepherd (also played by Daniels), who portrayed the archaeologist onscreen, fearing that this anomaly will bring an end to his career, searches for his estranged character. A love triangle is soon established between Gil, his fictional counterpart and Cecilia, who must decide between fantasy and reality....

Mia Farrow and Jeff Daniels are terrific in the lead roles, with the latter giving an incredibly charming performance that's worlds away from the goofball turn in Dumb & Dumber that he would, perhaps, become most closely associated with. Their romantic scenes together ooze with innocent charm and perfectly homage innumerable old school Hollywood love stories.

The film is beautifully shot, impeccably acted and, while there are flashes of vintage Allen comedy sprinkled throughout (the scenes depicting the befuddled characters left within the film-with-the-film are hilarious) it is permeated with a real sense of pathos, showcasing the undeniable versatility of Allen's abilities as a filmmaker. What could have quiet easily been a lightweight yarn has a bittersweet message that real life, unlike the movies, rarely has a happy ending.

I love 'The Purple Rose of Cairo' and, if you're a sentimental fool like me, you might too.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Captivating and wistful comedy/fantasy, 27 Jun. 2010
K. Gordon - See all my reviews
This review is from: The Purple Rose of Cairo [DVD] (DVD)
An utterly sweet, inventive and charming film that examines our love
affair with the movies and our need to escape into fantasy. The central
device of the wall breaking down between the characters in a film and
those watching is great fun, and both Mia Farrow and Jeff Daniels do
some of their very best work in this.

That said, for me, it lacks a little of the depth and complexity of my
very favorite of Allen's film. It's a little too cute and simplistic
in the middle, although the first and last third, and the uncompromised
ending are terrific. It doesn't quite hold up on multiple viewings
the way 'Annie Hall', or 'Crimes and Misdemeanors' or 'Hannah and Her
Sisters' or 'Zelig' do. But even 2nd tier Woody Allen is better than
almost anything else out there. And on a certain level, with great
filmmakers its about personal taste, not right and wrong. (e.g. Is Chapln's
'Modern Times' better than 'City Lights' ?) So, if you like Allen's
work at all and you've never seen this, you owe yourself a look to
decide for yourself.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Pure Magic, 27 April 2015
Thespionic "Thespionic" (West Country) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Purple Rose of Cairo [DVD] (DVD)
What a great little film this is and what a fantastic idea? Like several Woody films this is set during the Great Depression of the 1930’s. The cinema was one of the great ‘releases’ of that era for the stricken folk.
There is one scene which is truly brilliant acting from both Farrow (Cecelia) and Daniels ( Tom Shepherd)– they are outside her house, she is praising him every which way for his acting ability. He modestly accepts what she says, but at the same time totally agrees with her! It’s a brilliant piece of cinema.
The film won a BAFTA. This is right up there with the likes of Manhattan, Broadway Danny Rose & Midnight in Paris – IMHO.

It’s very atmospheric - switching from B&W to colour, has a clever love triangle and is very original – not to forget of course the brilliant Allen script & wit. A special mention also to Danny Aiello (Danny), who does a great job as the ‘no good’ husband of Cecilia.
This is 82 minutes of pure magic.
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The Purple Rose of Cairo [DVD]
The Purple Rose of Cairo [DVD] by Woody Allen (DVD - 2002)
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