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The Purple Rose of Cairo


In 1930s New Jersey, a movie character walks off the screen and into the real world.

Release Year: 1985

Rating: 7.7/10 (18,491 voted)

Critic's Score: 75/100

Woody Allen

Stars: Mia Farrow, Jeff Daniels, Danny Aiello

Cecilia is a waitress in New Jersey during the Depression and is searching for an escape from her dreary life. Tom Baxter is a dashing young archaeologist in the film "The Purple Rose of Cairo." After losing her job Cecilia goes to see the film in hopes of raising her spirits. Much to her surprise Tom Baxter walks off the screen and into her life. There's only one problem..Tom isn't real. Meanwhile Hollywood is up in arms when they dicover that other Tom Baxters are trying to leave the screen in other theatres. Will Tom ever return and finish the film or will he decide to stay in the real world?


Mia Farrow


Jeff Daniels

Tom Baxter
Gil Shepherd

Danny Aiello


Irving Metzman

Theater Manager

Stephanie Farrow

Cecilia's Sister

David Kieserman

Diner Boss

Elaine Grollman

Diner Patron

Victoria Zussin

Diner Patron

Mark Hammond

Diner Patron

Wade Barnes

Diner Patron

Joseph G. Graham

Diner Patron

Don Quigley

Diner Patron

Maurice Brenner

Diner Patron

Paul Herman

Penny Pitcher

Rick Petrucelli

Penny Pitcher

She's finally met the man of her dreams. He's not real but you can't have everything. [Video]

Release Date: 9 May 1985

Filming Locations: Bertrand Island Amusement Park, Mount Arlington, New Jersey, USA

Box Office Details

Budget: $15,000,000


Opening Weekend: $114,095
(3 March 1985)
(3 Screens)

Gross: $10,631,333
(21 July 1985)

Technical Specs


Did You Know?


In an interview in Esquire, Woody Allen was asked why he didn't make a happy ending to the film. Allen replied, "That *was* the happy ending."


Crew or equipment visible:
As Cecilia and Gil play and sing in the music store, the camera casts a shadow in the lower left that disappears as it pulls back to a wide angle shot.


[first lines]

Theater Manager:
Oh Cecilia, be careful! You all right?


Theater Manager:
You're gonna like this one, it's better than last week's, more romantic.

User Review

Fresh and inventive Woody.

Rating: 9/10

The Purple Rose of Cairo really does rate up there with Woody's best –
from Annie Hall, Manhattan to the earlier, more slapstick efforts, such
as Love and Death and Sleeper. Cairo happens to be one of the best 80's
movies Woody actually made – Crimes and Misdeameanours and Braodway
Danny Rose being other greats.

The reason why I think that Cairo is better than the other 80's efforts
is that the idea is really inventive. The movie raises so many
questions of reality and fantasy, but does so in a highly surreal
fashion. The switching of scenes, from reality to fantasy (movie) made
me realise where movies take us as a viewer. Cecelia finds solace in
the world of movies and comes up against the decision of which is
better – the perfect world of movie, or reality, where things are never

Jeff Daniels is so enigmatic in this movie. Not only as Tom, the screen
legend, but as Gil the actor. Two very different characters, both
played brilliantly. Mia Farrow is great as usual, and shows how broad
her talent is (Broadway Danny Rose and Radio Days – both very different
characters. Danny Aiello is good as the lazy slob-of-a-husband, Monk.

Like Radio Days, Woody isn't actually on screen (he narrated Radio
Days, mind) and in a way this eased me up. Woody is fantastic when he
is on screen, but this film benefited from losing his neurotic nature,
and instead concentrated on the era, the love of movies and the complex
themes of a movie within a movie. I will admit, some neurosis is
retained in the dialogue (talk of morality to prostitutes!) – and this
added to the surreal nature of the movie.

This has to be one of my favourite films Woody has directed. Annie Hall
probably being my fave, Manhattan, Crimes and Misdeamenours and Sleeper
following. Cairo is so constantly fresh and inventive, I couldn't help
being captivated during it's short running time. I recommend this to
any fan – or any lover of movies themselves. A real treat.