30 Posts about Movies #6 Part Four

Post #6:  Your Favorite Comedy Movie

Raising Arizona (1987)

There are some movies that you see a zillion times because no matter how many times you watch them, they still crack you up.  Raising Arizona is one of those movies.  It’s a movie that we’ve been quoting for years.

Holly Hunter and Nicholas Cage in Raising Arizona (1987)

Holly Hunter and Nicholas Cage in Raising Arizona (1987)

Most Coen brothers movies include the sinister in some form and to some degree.  There’s the Hudsucker Proxy at one end of the spectrum (I can’t recall what you might call sinister in Hudsucker, though it’s probably in there), then movies like Fargo inch into slightly darker territory, and at the other end of the spectrum films like Barton Fink, Miller’s Crossing, No Country for Old Men, and (at times) O Brother, Where Art Thou? delve into much darker places inhabited by gangsters, killers, and demons.  Raising Arizona sits at the relatively tame end.  In this movie, even Leonard Smalls, the scary bad guy (as opposed to the totally-not-frightening bad guys, Gale and Evelie) is actually pretty funny.

Nicholas Cage is great in this.  I guess he’s known for some other films, but I think this has to be my favorite Nicholas Cage performance.  His physical comedy and just the faces he makes are perfect.  He is H.I. McDunnough.

Nicholas Cage as H.I. McDunnough in Raising Arizona (1987)

Nicholas Cage as H.I. McDunnough in Raising Arizona (1987)

Possibly my favorite character in the film, with of course a nod to the main duo of Ed (Holly Hunter) and H.I., is Dot (Frances McDormand).  The most oft-quoted Raising Arizona lines in our house come from Dot.  You probably know them:  “He’s gotta have his dip-tet,” and especially “You gotta do that, Hi!”  Of course, it’s all in the delivery, since just looking at the lines written out like that doesn’t convey the humor.  Oh, Frances McDormand, you are good.  She doesn’t even have that many lines, but she gets every bit out of that part.

Holly Hunter and Frances McDormand in Raising Arizona (1987)

Holly Hunter and Frances McDormand in Raising Arizona (1987)

Since an unadulterated clip of the scene is not available online, here’s that favorite bit from the script:

DOT
… and then there’s diphtheria-tetanus, what they call dip-tet.  You gotta get him dip-tet boosters yearly or else he’ll get lockjaw and night vision.  Then there’s the smallpox vaccine, chicken pox and measles, and if your kid’s like ours you gotta take all those shots first to get him to take ’em.  Who’s your pediatrician, anyway?

ED
We ain’t exactly fixed on one yet.  Have we Hi?

(He sits stock-still with a stony face.)

ED
…No, I guess we don’t have one yet.

(Dot shrieks.)

DOT
Well you just gotta have one!  You just gotta have one this instant!

ED
Yeah, what if the baby gets sick, honey?

DOT
Hi, even if he don’t get sick he’s gotta have his dip-tet!

ED
He’s gotta have his dip-tet, honey.

(Hi shrugs, then flinches as a piece of jello hits his shoulder.)

HI
…Uh-huh.

DOT
You started his bank accounts?

ED
Have we done that honey?  We gotta do that honey.  What’s that for, Dot?

DOT
That-there’s for his orthodonture and his college.  You soak his thumb in iodine you might get by without the orthodonture, but it won’t knock any off the college.

(Hi sits stoically.  Dot is looking offscreen.)

DOT
…Reilly, take that diaper off your head and put it back on your sister!… Anyway, you probably got the life insurance all squared away.

ED
You done that yet honey?

DOT
You gotta do that, Hi!  Ed here’s got her hands full with that little angel!

HI
(dully) Yes ma’am.

DOT
What would Ed and the angel do if a truck came along and splattered your brains all over the interstate?  Where would you be then?

ED
Yeah honey, what if you get run over?

DOT
Or you got carried off by a twister?
(End quote from script.)

Yeah, what about that, Hi?

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