AFI Catalog of Feature Films
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Roxanne
Director: Fred Schepisi (Dir)
Release Date:   19 Jun 1987
Duration (in mins):  107
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Cast: Steve Martin  (C. D. ["Charlie"] Bales)
  Daryl Hannah  (Roxanne)
  Shelley Duvall  (Dixie)
 

Summary: In the Pacific Northwest ski resort town of Nelson, fire chief C. D. “Charlie” Bales is self-conscious about his extra-large nose. C. D. is well liked in the community, but residents know not to comment on his nose as he has gotten into fights with people who insult his nose. One summer night, C. D. meets astrophysics student Roxanne Kowalski, who has just moved to town for the summer. Roxanne comes to the fire station naked because she has locked herself out of her house. C. D. goes to her house, climbs to the roof, lets himself in through an open window and unlocks the front door for her. The two chat over wine and cheese and by evening’s end, C. D. is smitten with her. The next day Roxanne visits with her friend, restaurant owner Dixie, explaining that she just broke up with her boyfriend and wants to meet a man with “half a brain.” A few minutes later Chris McConnell, a handsome but slow-witted new fireman in town, comes into the restaurant with fellow fireman Chuck. They notice Roxanne and Chuck flirts with her, but she rejects him. Chuck encourages McConnell to go talk to her, but instead, he rushes out and throws up. Dixie volunteers C. D. to help Roxanne carry a large, heavy telescope to the roof of her house. Roxanne tells C. D. she thinks she has discovered a new comet, which if her calculations are correct, will appear in a few weeks. Later, as Roxanne eats lunch in a delicatessen, McConnell comes in. The two make eye contact, but he gets nervous and rushes to the bathroom and climbs out the window. That night, while Roxanne, Dixie, and C. D. are eating at a popular restaurant, an intoxicated man insults C. D., calling him “Big Nose.” C. D. challenges the man to come up with a more thoughtful insult than “Big Nose.” When the man cannot, C. D. offers twenty clever insults about his nose, delivering them like a comedy act, causing the entire restaurant to laugh. Roxanne is impressed. The next day, Dixie encourages C. D. to ask Roxanne out, saying it is obvious that he likes her. When C. D. is reluctant, Dixie suggests getting plastic surgery on his nose might improve his self-confidence. C. D. says he is scared of the idea of plastic surgery because he is allergic to anesthesia. A woman who was at the restaurant the night before tells C. D. she thinks Roxanne is falling in love with him. Later, when C. D. shrugs off someone insulting his nose, a fireman asks why he has suddenly developed a sense of humor about his nose. C. D. replies, “Because yesterday she didn’t, but today she does.” C. D. runs into Roxanne on the street and the two go on an impromptu hike in the mountains. Roxanne reports she has met someone she likes, but he seems shy. C. D. thinks she is talking about him and suggests she make the first move. However, he is disappointed to learn Roxanne is talking about Chris McConnell and wants C. D. to encourage McConnell to ask her out. When C. D. tells McConnell that Roxanne likes him, he is initially excited, then becomes nervous because he does not know what to say to her. C. D. suggests he write her a letter, but when McConnell’s attempt at writing proves clunky, C. D. writes the letter for him instead. A few days later when Dixie and C. D. go to Roxanne’s to observe the stars through her telescope, C. D. is moved when Roxanne casually quotes from the letter she believes Chris McConnell wrote to her. She says she cannot understand how he could write such a beautiful letter, but will not talk to her. Roxanne asks C. D. to encourage McConnell to ask her out. The fireman is excited to hear that Roxanne wants to go out with him, but then has a panic attack. C. D. offers to give him some lines to say to her, but McConnell is too nervous to remember them. That night when McConnell goes to Roxanne’s, he wears a hunter’s cap to cover the earpiece he is wearing. C. D. is in a nearby van watching with binoculars and reciting lines into a microphone. Unfortunately, the police scanner is on in the van and soon McConnell is repeating police calls, so he takes the hat and earpiece off. Roxanne is confused and asks him to talk to her like he did in his letter. When he cannot put any words together, she is insulted and goes inside. C. D. has McConnell stand in the front yard and say beautiful things to Roxanne while he stands out of sight, feeding him the words. However, McConnell is too nervous to recite the words well, so C. D. stands behind a bush and begins speaking directly to Roxanne. Since she cannot see him in the darkness, Roxanne believes it is Chris McConnell who is talking to her and quickly surrenders to the eloquence of the romantic words and invites Chris inside. McConnell compliments C. D., saying, “We were great,” but C. D. is angry that McConnell is the one having sex with Roxanne instead of him. The next day, Roxanne stops by the fire station announcing she is going to Arizona for a week because they have found her comet. For the next week, C. D. writes Roxanne three letters a day, each one touching her heart more than the last. Meanwhile, Dixie, who is unaware of what C. D. has been doing for McConnell, encourages C. D. to tell Roxanne how he feels about her. She finds a letter C. D. is writing to Roxanne and takes it. Meanwhile, Chris McConnell stops by a bar for a beer and has no difficulty chatting with Sandy, the waitress. She flirts heavily with him, but he seems unaware of it. When Roxanne returns, she tells McConnell she came back early because of the letters he sent. He is unaware that C. D. wrote letters in his name and panics when Roxanne pushes to know more about things he revealed in the letters. He rushes out of the house and runs into Sandy who is packing her car to move to Lake Tahoe, California, to take a job as a waitress in a casino. He decides to go with her and writes a goodbye letter to Roxanne. Later, Dixie slides the letter C. D. was writing under Roxanne’s door, with a note explaining that C. D. wrote it. The next day, Roxanne confronts C. D. about the letters. He confesses that it is true, but Roxanne punches him, angry that he played with her emotions. C. D. is angry that she had sex with McConnell on their first night, but Roxanne replies that it was C.D. who seduced her. He points out that he was not the one in bed with her and accuses her of wanting someone who is both intelligent and physically beautiful. C. D. storms out. Later, C. D.’s extra strong sense of smell detects a fire before it can spread to the entire town. Once the fire is out, C. D. sits on the roof of his house, sulking about Roxanne. She comes to the yard and begins reciting some of the things he wrote in the letters. Roxanne says his words made her feel romantic, intelligent and feminine. C.D. forgives her and the two kiss as a comet flies across the sky.


 

Distribution Company: Columbia Pictures
Production Company: Indieprod
LA Films
Director: Fred Schepisi (Dir)
  Warren Carr (Prod mgr)
  Michael Steele (1st asst dir)
  Casey Grant (2d asst dir)
  Wendy Chesal (3d asst dir)
  David Cyr (D.G.C. trainee)
  Dianne Patrick (D.G.C. trainee)
  Inga Volmer (D.G.C. trainee)
Producer: Michael Rachmil (Prod)
  Daniel Melnick (Prod)
  Steve Martin (Exec prod)
Writer: Steve Martin (Scr)

Subject Major: Impersonation and imposture
  Noses
  Pride and vanity
  Romance
 
Subject Minor: Astronomy
  Comets
  Fires
  Firemen
  Language and languages
  Letters
  Mountains
  Restaurants
  Shyness
  Telescope

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The American Film Institute is grateful to Sir Paul Getty KBE and the Sir Paul Getty KBE Estate for their dedication to the art of the moving image and their support for the AFI Catalog of Feature Films and without whose support AFI would not have been able to achieve this historical landmark in this epic scholarly endeavor.
 
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