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Raising Arizona (1987)

A comedy beyond belief.

Original Title : Raising Arizona
Director : Joel Coen
Ethan Coen
Writer : Ethan Coen
Joel Coen
Genre : Comedy
(more)
Country : USA
Language : English
Producer : Ethan Coen , James Jacks , Deborah Reinisch , Mark Silverman
Music : Carter Burwell
Photography : Barry Sonnenfeld
IMDB ID : 0093822
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poster for "Raising Arizona" by Joel Coen | Ethan Coen (1987)
Raising Arizona (1987) - Joel Coen | Ethan Coen
 

Starring

┬Nicolas Cage H.I. McDonnough
┬Holly Hunter Edwina 'Ed' McDonnough
┬Trey Wilson Nathan Arizona (Hufheinz
┬John Goodman Gale
┬William Forsythe Evelle
┬Sam McMurray Glen
┬Frances McDormand Dot
┬Randall 'Tex' Cobb Leonard Smalls
┬T.J. Kuhn Nathan Arizona Jr. (as T.J. Kuhn Jr.
┬Lynne Dumin Kitei Florence Arizona
┬Peter Benedek Prison Counselor
┬Charles 'Lew' Smith Nice Old Grocery Man
┬Warren Keith Younger FBI Agent
┬Henry Kendrick Older FBI Agent
┬Sidney Dawson Moses (ear-bending cellmate
┬Richard Blake Parole Board Chairman
┬Troy Nabors Parole Board Member
┬Mary Seibel Parole Board Member
┬John O'Donnal Hayseed in the Pickup
┬Keith Jandacek Whitey
┬Warren Forsythe Minister
┬Ruben Young 'Trapped' Convict
┬Dennis Sullivan Policeman in Arizona House
┬Richard Alexander Policeman in Arizona house (as Dick Alexander
┬Rusty Lee Feisty Hayseed
┬James Yeater Fingerprint Technician
┬Bill Andres Reporter
┬Carver Barns Reporter
┬Margaret H. McCormack Unpainted Arizona Secretary
┬Bill Rocz Newscaster
┬Mary F. Glenn Payroll Cashier
┬Jeremy Babendure Scamp with Squirt Gun
┬Bill Dobbins Adoption Agent
┬Ralph Norton Gynecologist
┬Henry Tank Mopping Convict
┬Frank Outlaw Supermarket Manager
┬Todd Michael Rodgers Varsity Nathan Jr.
┬M. Emmet Walsh Machine Shop Ear-Bender
┬Robert Gray Glen and Dot's Kid
┬Katie Thrasher Glen and Dot's Kid
┬Derek Russell Glen and Dot's Kid
┬Nicole Russell Glen and Dot's Kid
┬Zachary Sanders Glen and Dot's Kid
┬Noell Sanders Glen and Dot's Kid
┬Cody Ranger Arizona Quint
┬Jeremy Arendt Arizona Quint
┬Ashley Hammon Arizona Quint
┬Crystal Hiller Arizona Quint
┬Olivia Hughes Arizona Quint
┬Emily Malin Arizona Quint
┬Melanie Malin Arizona Quint
┬Craig McLaughlin Arizona Quint
┬Adam Savageau Arizona Quint
┬Benjamin Savageau Arizona Quint
┬David Schneider Arizona Quint
┬Michael Stewart Arizona Quint
┬William Preston Robertson Amazing Voice (voice
 

Plot

Recidivist hold-up man H.I. McDonnough and police woman Edwina marry, only to discover they are unable to conceive a child. Desperate for a baby, the pair decide to kidnap one of the quintuplets of furniture tycoon Nathan Arizona. The McDonnoughs try to keep their crime secret, while friends, co-workers and a feral bounty hunter look to use Nathan Jr. for their own purposes. Colourful and unconventional slapstick comedy. Ex-con Hi and ex-cop Ed meet, marry and long for a child in the wilds of Arizona. When Ed discovers she's barren the God-given solution is presented: to snatch a baby from a set of quins. Thus begins a series of kidnappings, capers and rum goings-on that revolve around the helpless yet universally-loveable child. Hi's convict friends, his boss, and even the Lone Biker Of The Apocalypse become involved in the ever-twisting plot in the quest to own the baby.
 

Comments

Esterhazy Haydn Clearly this is less well crafted than the Coen brothers' later work (and by "later work" I mean the amazing string of films that started with their very next, "Miller's Crossing") …, but does that mean it's not as good? You bet it does. This is the cinematic equivalent of Haydn's first Esterhazy symphonies. Those works are fresh, their quirkiness is charming, you're a mug if you don't like them, but they lack the polish of the later symphonies Haydn wrote for Paris and London –, and this seemingly inessential ingredient, "polish", turns out to be the difference between a pleasant trifle and a masterpiece. The analogy with Haydn runs deeper than this. Like an early Esterhazy symphony, "Raising Arizona" is all moment-to-moment brilliance, with little effect overall. The film has plenty of amusing one-liners, situations, sight gags, even (although these are more rare) whole episodes. These are "enough" in the sense that they're enough to make a good film, but later Coen works have so much more. When John Turturro's character in "O Brother, Where Art Thou?" (mild spoiler ahead) reveals to the audience that he was just a week away from having completed his sentence before he escaped, this is not just funny in itself, it makes the whole preceding narrative funny in retrospect. There's nothing like this in "Raising Arizona". But there ARE moments like it in Haydn's Paris and London symphonies. The more obvious point of comparison with "O Brother" is the intrusion of folkloric fantasy into a twentieth-century tall tale, there, it's integrated, here, it's not. When the Devil appears in the later film, he belongs, when the Apocalyptic Biker appears here, he does not. (This is besides the fact that he's not nearly as impressive a figure as he ought to be. There's something dead about his scenes, and he seems to mumble his lines.) In "Raising Arizona" the Coens shatter the coherence of their film in order to startle us. In their later films they startle us just as much, but they do so coherently. Not only is "Raising Arizona" as much inferior to "Barton Fink" or "O Brother, Where Art Thou?" as Haydn's first dozen symphonies are to his last dozen, it's inferior for much the same reasons. I like the early Haydn symphonies, too, but I realise that they grew into better and more fully realised versions of themselves. So it is with the Coens.
 
poster for "Raising Arizona"
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Raising Arizona (1987) - Joel Coen | Ethan Coen
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