Thirty years ago Nicolas Cage stole one of five quintuplets and never looked back.
Joel and Ethan Coen’s “Raising Arizona” didn’t shatter any box office records during its theatrical run. The film, starring Cage and rising star Holly Hunter, opened in limited release March 13 before expanding nationally April 17. The 1987 comedy generated $22 million stateside. That’s not too shabby considering it played in far fewer screens than most wide releases.
Still, that’s barely a footnote in that year’s box office story.
FAST FACT: The Coens considered Kevin Costner for the role that eventually went to Nicolas Cage.
“Three Men And A Baby” delivered 1987’s most popular film. The Leonard Nimoy comedy hauled in $167 million to take the year’s top spot ahead of “Fatal Attraction” ($157 million) and “Beverly Hills Cop II” ($153 million).
“Raising Arizona” endures all the same.
It’s hard to name another movie with more quotable lines, let alone outrageous set pieces. Good luck finding a more original chase sequence than this.
The Coens went on to direct other comedies. Many swear “The Big Lebowski” is their finest comedic hour. The Dude may abide, but he can’t compare to H.I. McDunnough and co.
Consider the following 19 quotes from the Coens’ “Raising Arizona.” Any movie would be lucky to have a handful of lines this good. “Raising Arizona” has more but we had to stop at some point.
Driver: Son, you got a panty on your head.
Evelle: [holding a bag of balloons] These blow up into funny shapes and all?
Clerk: Well no, unless round is funny.
H.I.: Edwina’s insides were a rocky place where my seed could find no purchase.
H.I.: There’s what’s right and there’s what’s right and never the twain shall meet.
Ed: [crying] Turn to the right.
H.I.: What’s the matter, Ed?
Ed: My “fy-ance” left me…
H.I.: That sumbitch. You tell him, I think he’s a damn fool, Ed. You tell him I said so – H.I. McDonnough. If he wants to discuss it, he knows where to find me: in the Maricopa County Maximum Security Correctional Facility For Men State Farm, Road Number 31, Tempe, Arizona! I’ll be waitin’! I’ll be waiting.
Evelle: H.I., you’re young and you got your health, what you want with a job?
Glen: Say that reminds me, how’d you get that kid so darn fast? Me and Dot went in to adopt on account a’ somethin’ went wrong with my semen, and they said we had to wait five years for a healthy white baby. I said, “Healthy white baby? Five years? What else you got?” Said they got two Koreans and a negra born with his heart on the outside. It’s a crazy world.
Gale: I know you’re partial to convenient stores, but dammit, H.I., the sun doesn’t rise and set on the corner grocery.
Payroll Employee: Gov-mint do take a bite, don’t she?
H.I.: This here’s the TV. Two hours a day, maximum, either… either educational or football, so’s, y’know, you don’t ruin your appreciation of the finer things.
Dot: Rollie! You take that diaper off your head and you put it back on your sister!
Evelle: Ma’am, you don’t breast-feed him, he’ll hate you for it later. That’s why we wound up in prison.
Dot: You soak his thumb in iodine and you might get by without the orthodonture, but it won’t knock a thing off the university.
Nathan Arizona, Sr.: That’s your forte, ain’t it? Chasing down crooks and Commies and shit. That’s your whole God-damn raison d’etre, ain’t it?
Ed: You mean you busted out of jail.
Evelle: No, ma’am. We released ourselves on our own recognizance.
Gale: What Evelle here is trying to say is that we felt that the institution no longer had anything to offer us.
Gale: You understand, H.I.? If this works out, it’s just the beginning of a spree to cover the entire southwest proper. And we keep going until we can retire. Or we get caught.
Evelle: Either way, we’re fixed for life.
Gale: All right, ya hayseeds, it’s a stick-up. Everybody freeze. Everybody down on the ground.
Bank Customer: Well, which is it, young feller? You want I should freeze or get down on the ground? Mean to say, if’n I freeze, I can’t rightly drop. And if’n I drop, I’m a-gonna be in motion. You see…
Gale: Shut up!
H.I.: We figured there was too much happiness here for just the two of us, so we figured the next logical step was to have us a critter.
Tough to pick a favorite … but is there one quote that stands above the rest? Leave your answer in the comments below. And while you’re at it, find a gaggle of great comedy clips to lighten your day.
BONUS: Meet the man who gave “Raising Arizona” that distinctive, out of control vibe – cinematographer Barry Sonnenfeld.