Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Fred Schepisi|
|Produced by||Michael I. Rachmil
|Written by||Steve Martin|
|Music by||Bruce Smeaton|
|Edited by||John Scott|
|Distributed by||Columbia Pictures|
|Budget||$12 million (est.)|
|Box office||$40,050,884 (domestic)|
Roxanne is a 1987 American romantic comedy film directed by Fred Schepisi. It is a modern retelling of Edmond Rostand's 1897 verse play Cyrano de Bergerac, adapted by Steve Martin and starring Martin and Daryl Hannah.
C.D. "Charlie" Bales (Steve Martin), the fire chief of a small American ski town in Washington, is intelligent, humorous, charismatic, athletic and skilled. He is close to many in town, especially his godsister, Dixie (Shelley Duvall), who owns the town diner and several rental homes. He becomes immediately attracted to beautiful newcomer Roxanne Kowalski (Daryl Hannah), an astronomy student in town for the summer searching for a new comet. She adores Bales, but only as a friend, preferring Chris (Rick Rossovich), a handsome but dim fireman who has just joined Bales's unit to help turn it around. Bales is sensitive about his large nose, which many in town have learned to not mention. He is unable to have it surgically altered because of a dangerous allergy to anesthetics.
Roxanne goes to Bales for help when Chris fails to advance their relationship further than curious glances. Through a turn of events, she falsely believes Chris is not only good looking, but also intelligent and deep. When Bales informs Chris of Roxanne's interest, Chris gets sick since he is intimidated by intelligent women. Chris starts to write her a letter, but takes all day to write anything of note. He then goes to Bales's house for help and convinces him to write the letter. Roxanne receives the letter and is bowled over by its prose. When informed that Roxanne wants to meet him, Chris again gets sick and refuses to meet until Bales comes up with a plan to allow him to be as brilliant as his letter makes him appear. Chris arrives at Roxanne's house with a hunter's cap on, hiding the earphones that relay Bales's words from a van. When the equipment fails, Chris bungles the meeting by speaking his own crass thoughts. After Roxanne storms back into the house furious, Chris begs Bales to fix his mess again. At first he repeats what he is told from under a tree beneath Roxanne's window, but soon also ruins that. Then they switch jackets and hats so Bales can speak the words as Chris. They achieve their goal, and she invites Chris in to make love.
Soon Roxanne gets word on her comet and has to go out of town for a week. Since she can't find Chris, she gives Bales the address of her hotel and asks him to tell Chris to write to her. Bales begins to write her several times a day, each letter more incredible than the last. They affect Roxanne so much that she returns home early. Bales is writing a new letter to her in Dixie's diner when he finds out that Chris (who knows nothing about the letters) is on his way to see Roxanne. He arrives at her home and, after some effort, warns Chris that Roxanne would be mentioning some letters that he supposedly wrote. She tries to get Chris to be the man in the letters, revealing that his looks are only secondary to her. Knowing that his looks are all he has, Chris runs out, leaving her confused. Dixie puts the last letter under her door and after reading it, Roxanne calls Bales over.
Meanwhile, Chris prepares to leave town with a bartender, Sandy, whom he met while Roxanne was away. When she asks if he has told Roxanne (the women are acquaintances), he replies that he will write her a letter since he has a history of it.
Bales arrives unaware that Roxanne knows the truth. She asks him to read one of the letters and then to look at the back, which shows that Dixie revealed its true author. She then explodes at him, angry that he lied to her. He retorts that he simply wanted to tell her how he felt about her, but she was only interested in Chris's face and body. Once he reminds her that it only took a few nice words for Chris to get her into bed, she punches him in the face and throws him out. Once outside he threatens to leave and she comes back out for a moment, too upset to think. Once she returns back inside, Bales begins to count and stops once he smells something. He slowly walks back to the firehouse and alerts his team, who then follows him until they find the source of the fire and put it out. During their celebration afterwards, someone mentions his nose and although everyone thinks he will get upset, he doesn't.
He returns home and as he's sitting on his roof, he hears someone speaking his words to him. It's Roxanne. She declares her love and informs him that she realized that it was everything about him that she loved, not Chris's looks. Bales then descends from the roof and they reconcile. During the credits, she reveals that she named the comet "Charlie" - after her father.
Steve Martin had always been a fan of the Jose Ferrer version of Cyrano de Bergerac:
I remember just thinking it was the greatest thing I ever saw. I think it's because the character is so strong. He's like a very smart version of what, coincidentally, is popular in movies today. He's smarter than everybody else, quicker than everybody else, wittier than everybody else and tops everybody. That's what the original Cyrano is like. And this just sort of takes that vicious edge off it.
In the early 1980s Martin had the idea of updating the play, only with the difference that Cyrano would get the girl in the end. He decided to write the screenplay himself, doing 25 drafts over three years.
The film was greenlit at Columbia by then-production chief Guy McElwaine. He was replaced by David Puttnam who liked the script, continued the studio's support and suggested the casting of Daryl Hannah. It was the first film released under Puttnam's auspices at Columbia.
Steve Martin's nose make up took 90 minutes to apply every day and two minutes to take off. "God how I hated that thing," he said.
Roxanne received an 88% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes, with the consensus being: "Though its sweetness borders on sappiness, Roxanne is an unabashedly romantic comedy that remains one of Steve Martin's funniest".
Roger Ebert hailed the film as a "gentle, whimsical comedy", giving it a 3 and half stars of four, also stating: "What makes "Roxanne" so wonderful is not this fairly straightforward comedy, however, but the way the movie creates a certain ineffable spirit".
It is number 71# on Bravo's "100 Funniest Movies".
It has also won and has been nominated for a number of awards, including:
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