The Purple Rose of Cairo is an enchanting masterpiece. It's also one of my favourite Woody Allen movies. One of the two reasons why I'm so fond of it is because of it's inventive plot:
Cecilia is a waitress in Depression era New Jersey, married to an out of work abusive husband. The one thing she loves most in the world is going to the movies. After a bad day, she goes and sees The Purple Rose of Cairo (one of those Thirties comedies about champagne, penthouses and night clubs) several times in a row. The character of Tom Baxter (poet, adventurer, explorer and all round swell fellow) notices her, falls in loves and steps off the screen into the real world. Panic ensues and while Cecilia is teaching Tom about the real world, the theatre manager calls the studio. The producer shows up, worried about his profits and Gil Sheperd (who plays Tom) tags along, worried about his career and a copy of him wandering around New Jersey and then falls in love with Cecilia.
The other reason why I love this movie is because of the ending. With any other film maker, the ending would not be the same and only Woody Allen could have come up with such a simple and interesting plot. While the ending is not the traditional happy ending that one expects from the movies, it is the right ending for the film which is about why we're so fascinated by those flickering images on the screen and why we go to the movies in order to escape from our lives for a moment and imagine how much better we would be if only life were like that.
There are hardly any bright colours in the movie, but the drab furnishings and worn clothes are better at showing how hard the Depression was for everyone and the only light came from the movie theatre, which was affordable then.
Can you spot Van Johnson?