The Purple Rose of Cairo (1985) - Plot Summary Poster


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  • 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?

  • Cecelia lives a somewhat drab life in Depression-era New Jersey. She works as a waitress in a diner - she isn't very good at it and is soon fired - and has a philandering loafer of a husband. She spends much of her time at the local movie theater repeatedly seeing the same movie, The Purple Rose of Cairo. One day, a minor character in the movie, Tom Baxter, literally walks off the screen and joins Cecilia in exploring the world on the other side of the screen. Meanwhile, the remaining actors in the film are unable to continue with the story and Hollywood producers panic when others movie characters want to do the same.

  • It's the early 1930s New Jersey. Cecilia uses the movies to escape from her already sad and increasingly sadder life. She is in an unsatisfying marriage to out of work Monk, who hangs out with his friends rather than look for a job. He treats her poorly, including often hitting her, but out of circumstance, she probably will never leave him. She is currently the sole breadwinner, a waitress at a diner. But her daydreaming at work, specifically about the lives of those she sees on the screen, gets her fired from her job. The latest of those movies is a lighthearted romantic comic adventure called the Purple Rose of Cairo, which she has now seen several times. During one of those screenings, Tom Baxter, a secondary but pivotal character in the movie, he a self described poet, explorer and adventurer, walks off the screen into the audience, stating that he has seen Cecilia at several screenings before, and has fallen in love with her. As such, Tom and Cecilia take off together. This action causes many problems: the other characters on the screen can't continue without Tom, studio executives are concerned about anything libelous that Tom may do for which they would be legally responsible, and they are concerned that other characters from the movie will also walk off, not only at this theater but at others where the movie is being screened. Cecilia also sees it as being a problem as although she likes Tom and being with him, knows that he's not real. Another person who sees it as a problem is Gil Shepherd, the up and coming young actor who portrays Tom, and who sees Tom's move as potentially destroying his career. But as Gil gave Tom life in his portrayal, there may be some of Gil in Tom. So when Gil heads to New Jersey to try and persuade Tom to go back into the movie, Gil, a real person, may also also see in Cecilia what Tom sees in her.

  • New Jersey, mid-1930s. Cecilia (Mia Farrow) is a waitress stuck in a loveless, dead-end marriage to obnoxious, philandering, gambling Monk (Danny Aiello). It's the height of the Depression and life is pretty grim but luckily Cecilia has an escape. She loves going to the movies. The latest movie in town is The Purple Rose of Cairo and after a falling out with Monk, she watches it over and over. While watching it for the fifth time, one of the characters in the movie, Tom Baxter (Jeff Daniels), notices Cecilia and steps out of the movie. All manner of adventures, romance and hilarity ensue.

  • In New Jersey in 1935, a movie character walks off the screen and into the real world.


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