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The Purple Rose of Cairo

One of Woody Allen's most accessible films and biggest box office hits, 1985's THE PURPLE ROSE OF CAIRO, is also one of his best.

Mia Farrow is Cecilia, a depression era housewife married to a loutish, abusive husband named Monk (Danny Aiello) and stuck in a waitress job by day.

Cecilia's only escape is the local movie theatre, where she goes almost every day to escape her troubles.

At a low point, Cecilia sits down to watch "The Purple Rose of Cairo" for the tenth time, reciting much of the dialogue in her head.

When a dashing, adventure seeking young character on screen suddenly turns to the screen and starts talking to her, the movie and Cecilia's life takes a sweet left turn.

The character, Tom Baxter (perfectly played by a very young Jeff Daniels) walks right off the movie screen and into the audience, taking Cecilia by the hand and leaving the theatre.

The other characters on screen walk up to the third wall and start shouting at him to come back, leaving the rest of the theatre goers hilariously puzzled just what kind of film they are watching.

Tom has NO desire to go back to the cinematic world, falling in love with the real world around him.

Daniels also plays Gil Shepherd, the actor who played Baxter. He also rushes to New Jersey to try and find Tom and get him back on the screen.

When Tom arrives, he is inspired and touched by Cecilia too and the film nicely spirals off in several unexpected directions.

A great cast is flawless here, including Dianne Wiest, Edward Herrmann and Van Johnson in one of his last films.

Daniels and Farrow are both terrific. Their chemistry is pitch perfect, with the screen actor and the waitress both seeing the real world and its possibilities for the first time.

Allen's talents as a writer are bold here as he takes you down a road you think you know, mixing it with fantasies and how you think these characters both real and imaginary would act and react.

You're left with some serious questions about those interactions in the film's final, bittersweet ending.

The way the final scene makes you really THINK about what's happened and what lies ahead for Cecilia is what takes this from a lightweight comedy to a Woody Allen film.

This Purple Rose blooms with charm and laughs and gets an A.

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