Raising Arizona (1987)
April 14, 2018 12:55 PM - Subscribe

When a childless couple of an ex-con and an ex-cop decide to help themselves to one of another family's quintuplets, their lives become more complicated than they anticipated.

Roger Ebert: I have a problem with movies where everybody talks as if they were reading out of an old novel about a bunch of would-be colorful characters. They usually end up sounding silly.

WaPo: Even the photography is funny, and telling, as directed by Barry Sonnenfeld, who earned kudos for his amusing cinematography on the Coens' first movie "Blood Simple." Through it, the Coens keep highlighting the contrast between what Hi perceives and the realities of his impoverished life.

Senses of Cinema: Helpless H.I. is thrust from one outlandish situation to another throughout, the wide-angle lenses warping the edges of the film frame and bending the fragile borders of H.I.’s topsy-turvy world. Director of Photography Barry Sonnenfeld’s roving camera features rapid-moving shots reminiscent of the original Evil Dead (1981), which is apt seeing as the director of that film, Sam Raimi, was an early Coen collaborator. Interestingly, the second, more comic Evil Dead movie was released in 1987, the same year as Raising Arizona, and Ash (Bruce Campbell), the hapless leading man of these Evil Dead films, is subjected to the sort of extreme physical punishments experienced by Cage’s H.I.

The Atlantic: Although Raising Arizona is, like Blood Simple, a crime film, the Coens wanted to make it as different from their debut as they could. So instead of a plot driven by murderous miscomprehensions, they tell the story of a gentle, ex-con husband (Nicolas Cage) and an infertile, maternally obsessed wife (Holly Hunter) who conspire to kidnap a quintuplet on the premise that his real parents already “have more than they can handle.” The mundane, economical dialogue of Blood Simple gives way to the kind of eccentric, “high hick” diction that will become a Coens staple. (This time out, everyone is talking like M. Emmet Walsh.) And Carter Burwell delivers a score that, while not the best he would write for the Coens—that would wait for one more film—remains his most wildly inventive, a giddy mishmash of banjo, organ, whistling, and yodeling that plays like the mutant offspring of Marvin Hamlisch and Ennio Morricone.


Filming Locations

The Tao of Nicolas Cage: Raising Arizona

The Pinnacle: Why The Best Nicolas Cage Performance Is In ‘Raising Arizona’

Carter Burwell page
posted by MoonOrb (17 comments total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Edwina's insides were a rocky place where my seed could find no purchase.
posted by Chrysostom at 1:51 PM on April 14, 2018 [4 favorites]

Iff'n you want us get down, why'd you tell us to freeze?
posted by LionIndex at 3:17 PM on April 14, 2018

John Goodman is the king of uncontrollable, maniacal characters.
posted by Brocktoon at 3:43 PM on April 14, 2018 [2 favorites]

The movie spawned a huge rash of pampers copycat heists.
posted by sammyo at 7:31 PM on April 14, 2018

Son, you got a panty on your head.
posted by Catblack at 7:34 PM on April 14, 2018 [1 favorite]

As in, to swing!
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 12:56 AM on April 15, 2018

This is probably my favorite Coen brothers movie.
posted by kyrademon at 5:41 AM on April 15, 2018 [1 favorite]

My favorite part is that they came up with two almost identical jokes about balloon shapes ("These blow up into funny shapes and all?"/"Well no, unless round is funny" and "They blow up into funny shapes and all?"/"No, just circular") and used both of them.
posted by How the runs scored at 7:37 AM on April 15, 2018 [6 favorites]

This and "O Brother Where Art Thou" make a delightful double feature.
posted by DrAstroZoom at 7:05 AM on April 16, 2018 [1 favorite]

This was my first Coen Bros. film and I'd say it's still makes my top 3 favorites list of their films.

It's funny to think that I was introduced to their movies at the age of 12 solely because of my mom, who is by no means any kind of indie/art cinema buff. She bought tix for us to see it in the theater because she had been tickled by scenes from the trailer of Nic Cage desperately trying to corral a quintet of rambunctious, photogenic babies. But I still remember her laughing throughout the entire film, even during the non-baby parts, and to this day it remains one of her favorites.
posted by Atom Eyes at 9:39 AM on April 16, 2018

Leonard Smalls and Anton Chigurh bear a lot of similarities.
posted by invitapriore at 6:45 PM on April 16, 2018

That night I had a dream.
I drifted off, thinkin' about
happiness, birth and new Iife.

But now I was haunted by a vision of...he was horribIe.
The Ione biker of the ApocaIypse.

A man with all the powers
of Hell at his command.
He couId turn the day into night
and Iay to waste everything in his path.

He was especially hard on the IittIe things,
the heIpIess and the gentIe creatures.

He Ieft a scorched earth in his wake,
befouIin' even the sweet desert breeze
that whipped across his brow.

I didn't know where he came from or why.
I didn't know if he was dream or vision.

But I feared that I myself had unIeashed him.
For he was the fury that wouId be
posted by mcstayinskool at 5:42 AM on April 17, 2018

Nathan needs some huggies. I'll be out directly.
posted by mcstayinskool at 5:43 AM on April 17, 2018

Raising Arizona and Evil Dead II were released one week apart.

You could leave either one of those movies (knocked out of your socks), go into the next theater saying to yourself "Now I wonder what this one's all about..." and get kicked in face twice in one day.
posted by doctornecessiter at 11:02 AM on April 17, 2018 [1 favorite]

We love this movie. When we drive, my 12-year old will sometimes navigate, and if a right turn is required, she barks "HURN TaTha RIIIGHT!"
posted by spikeleemajortomdickandharryconnickjrmints at 1:26 PM on April 17, 2018 [1 favorite]

H.I. works for Hudsucker Industries in this film.
posted by octothorpe at 8:29 PM on April 17, 2018

Saw this was on Netflix? a week ago or so. So good.

"Ed? What kind of a name is that?"
"Short for Edwina"

"You are a Flower..."

("And, we are going to steal. The Declaration of Independance!")

This is young Nic Cage. And great
posted by Windopaene at 5:45 PM on November 21, 2023

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