In Nelson, the chief of the firemen C. D. Bales is a man with complex since he has a huge nose. When his friend Dixie rents her house to the gorgeous student of astronomy Roxanne, he falls in love with her but keeps his feelings as a secret. C.D. hires the handsome fireman Chris and Roxanne asks C.D. to help her to date him. However Chris is an average American with very limited culture and he asks C.D. to help him to get in her pants. C.D. writes letters disclosing his feelings for her and Roxanne is seduced by the man that writes such letters. What will happen when she meets Chris?
A modernization of Edmond Rostands "Cyrano De Bergerac". C.D. Bales is a fire chief who just happens to have an enormous nose. He hires a new firefighter, Chris, who is handsome and knows his hoses, but is useless when it comes to women. Roxanne is an astronomer who has just arrived in town. She catches the eye of Chris, and he asks C.D. to help him woo her. Little does Chris know that C.D. is mad about Roxanne, but hasn't found the right way to tell her - yet.
This is a remake of Cyrano de Bergerac, one of the most celebrated plays of the French theater, written by Edmond Rostand. Instead of being set in 17th century France, "Cyrano" has been changed to "Charlie", a fire chief in a small town in Washington. Roxanne rents a house for the summer to look at comets and Charlie quickly falls for her. Charlie is intelligent, funny, and sensitive, but all his fine qualities are unfortunately overshadowed by his very large nose ("Excuse me, it that your nose or did a bus park on your face?"). Charlie's friend, Chris, on the other hand, is quite attractive, but superficial and awkward with words, especially around women (he has a tendency to throw up a lot). Both men are enthralled with Roxanne, but she, in a shallow but predictable move, shows interest in the handsome Chris. Chris is tongue-tied around her -- everything that comes out of his mouth is either vulgar or indecipherable. So he asks Charlie for help. Charlie, inspired, writes 3 love letters a day to Roxanne, unbeknownst to Chris. Charlie's eloquent letters work, because Roxanne falls in love with Chris. But Chris can't meet Roxanne's expectations in person and he soon runs off with a waitress who is "pretty cute, too".
The large-nosed C.D. Bales is in love with the beautiful Roxanne; she falls for his personality but another man's looks.
- In the film, Steve Martin plays C.D. Bales, the fire chief in a small American town in the Pacific Northwest. C.D. is witty, acrobatic and skilled at many things, but he has a very large nose about which he is violently sensitive. He loves Roxanne Kowalski (Hannah), a beautiful astronomer, but she is infatuated with Chris (Rick Rossovich), a handsome but dim fireman. As in the play, Bales is touchy about his perceived ugliness (which he cannot have surgically altered because of a dangerous allergy to anesthetics) and speaks to the object of adoration the only way he can: he writes expressions of love in letter form and allows Chris to present them to Roxanne as if they were his own.
Roxanne receives a letter from Chris telling her that he has both left town and left her for another woman. C.D.'s friend and god-sister Dixie reveals that the letters Roxanne thought were written by Chris were actually written for her by C.D. When C.D. arrives at her home in response to a call from her, she confronts him about the letters. C.D. and Roxanne then end up in an argument, she claiming that he was deceiving her and leading her on, while C.D. says that she wanted the perfect man who was both emotionally and physically beautiful.
In the end, C.D. and Roxanne forgive one another and Roxanne confesses her love for C.D. and his characteristic nose. She says that flat-nosed people are too boring and bland, and that his nose gives him character.
Other stories in the movie include C.D. dealing with the incompetence of his volunteer firemen (whom Chris was brought in to help train), the appearance of a new comet which Roxanne came to observe, and a cafe owner (Shelley Duvall) who is a friend to both C.D. and Roxanne.