Thursday, November 16, 2006
Raising Arizona, my and many others' introduction to the brilliance of the Coen brothers, tells the story of H.I. McDunnough (Nicolas Cage), a former convict now married to his arresting officer, Edwina (Holly Hunter). Because they are incapable of producing a child of their own, they decide to kidnap a quintuplet of a rich furniture salesman.
Coen brother films are always filled with colorful characters, and this film is no exception. Hi's escaped convict friends, Gale and Evelle Snoats (John Goodman and William Forsythe), try to convince him to return to a life of crime just as he is beginning to start a family. Their introduction in the film is a memorable one, as they emerge from the ground outside prison, covered in mud, screaming at the top of their lungs. No explanation for this is given, but it's still funny. Hi's foreman Glen (Sam McMurray) and his devious kids also pay a visit, which ends when Glen suggests to Hi that they swap wives and Hi breaks his nose, losing his job in the process.
The most memorable scene, however, is Hi's Huggies theft in the grocery store, wearing a pantyhose over his face as a mask. The Coen brothers use a folk tune in which a man yodels nonsense as background to this scene. The result is one of the most unforgettable and funny chase scenes in cinematic history.