Lively, entertaining reviews of, and essays on, old and newer films and everything relating to them, written by professional author William Schoell.

Thursday, November 30, 2017


Jeff Daniels and Mia Farrow
THE PURPLE ROSE OF CAIRO (1985). Writer/director: Woody Allen.

"In New Jersey, anything can happen."

In a dreary small town in 1935, Cecelia (Mia Farrow) has an unhappy marriage with the often out-of-work Monk (Danny Aiello of City Hall). Cecelia seeks refuge in the movies, where she especially loves a film called The Purple Rose of Cairo, and the lead character, Tom Baxter, played by actor Gil Shepherd (Jeff Daniels). In an astonishing turn of events, "Tom Baxter" walks right off the screen and into the real world, leaving the other actors/characters in the movie standing around wringing their hands. "How many times is a man so taken with a woman that he leaves the movie just to meet her," muses Tom. Just as Cecelia, who begins a romance with the charming Tom, is trying to make sense of all this, the real Gil Shepherd, who has heard what's happened, shows up in town ... This movie and its look at how influential movies can be on real life and the necessary escape they offer may not work for everyone, but I found it charming, absorbing, and ultimately moving. The actors offer sensitive and dead-on portrayals. Van Johnson, Edward Herrmann, Zoe Cladwell, and Milo O'Shea, among others, appear in the film-within-a-film.

Verdict: Not perfect perhaps, but it remains one of Allen's most likable movies. ***.


angelman66 said...

This one is charming but very very mild. Have not seen it in years but would definitely watch it again.

William said...

It's an enjoyable picture once you accept the utterly absurd premise.

Neil A Russell said...

One of my favorite lines from this was Jeff Daniels saying; "I could learn to be real". I've forgotten who he was playing off of in that scene but the response was; "You can't learn to be real, that's like learning to be a midget!"
Typical Allen quips.
Certainly Mia Farrow was the Woody Allen character in the film, she even carried his mannerisms and intonations throughout.
I haven't seen it since the VHS age, but I thoroughly enjoyed it.

As for Woody Allen himself, it's a shame that such talent is tormented by issues in his life. That's not to create excuses for him, but much like Roman Polanski, it's just a shame.

William said...

I agree. I don't know if Allen molested his daughter, but his whole relationship with his now-wife Soon-Yi was inappropriate in so many ways. Being creative is no excuse for yucky behavior.

I think it was Mia Farrow who says that line to Jeff Daniels in the movie, but I'm not certain. Was Mia doing a Woody Allen routine -- considering how close they were and that he was his director it's certainly possible.

Thanks for the comment Neil!