Tag Archives: Coen Brothers

Film: Raising Arizona

They didn't break out of prison. They released themselves on their own recognizance. Uploaded by static.guim.co.uk.

This movie would have been featured here before now, but I’ve already included a couple of Coen Brothers films (O Brother Where Art Thou and Fargo) and wanted to showcase other classics. But I can’t put off Raising Arizona any longer.

It’s not a complicated plot. H.I. and Edwina McDunnough want a baby, but can’t conceive. Nathan and Florence Arizona have quintuplets. That doesn’t seem fair to H.I. and Ed, so they help themselves to Nathan, Jr. And, as they say in the movies, hilarity ensues.

Uploaded by originalalamo.com.

Lots of great performances in this one. Nicholas Cage and Holly Hunter are terrific as the childless couple, John Goodman and William Forsythe are brilliant as escaped convicts who take refuge in the McDunnough’s trailer, and Frances McDormand is typically excellent as Ed’s friend Dot.

But, like most Coen Brothers movies, the script is the real star. Raising Arizona is one of those movies you can’t help but quote. These lines will bring back specific scenes to anyone who’s seen this movie. And the more you see it, the funnier it is.

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: Why ain’t you breast-feeding? You appear to be capable.

Glen: 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.

Evelle: You hear that, you dang hayseeds? We’re using code names!

Dot: What if a truck came along and splattered your brains all over the interstate? Where would that leave Ed and the little angel?

Gale: So many social engagements, so little time.

Film: Fargo

Frances McDormand as Sheriff Marge Gunderson. Uploaded by destgulch.com

Frances McDormand as Sheriff Marge Gunderson. Uploaded by destgulch.com

No one who’s seen this film will ever look at a wood chipper the same as before. You betcha.

It’s a movie that begins by claiming it’s “based on a true story,” then concludes by saying all persons and events are fictitious. It follows Brainerd, Minnesota sheriff Marge Gunderson as she unravels a kidnapping that evolves into a series of murders. Marge is very pregnant, and in one outdoor scene she thinks she’s going to be sick. She bends down, but then after a few moments straightens back up. “Well, that passed,” she said. “Now I’m hungry again.”

William H. Macy as Jerry Lundegaard. Uploaded on Flickr by hypostylin.

William H. Macy as Jerry Lundegaard. Uploaded on Flickr by hypostylin.

I think it would have been entirely appropriate to cite the upper Midwest Scndinavian accent as one of the film’s co-stars. The movie would  have been lame without the frequent “ya” and “you betcha” and “the heck do you mean” throughout.

Frances McDormand and William H. Macy were familiar faces as secondary characters before Fargo, but they were unbelievably good in this movie that turned around both their careers. Marge Gunderson and Jerry Lundegaard are two of the most memorable characters in recent movie history, and the Coen Brothers did a brilliant job putting those fabulous words in their mouths.

Fargo was nominated for seven Academy Awards, won two (Best Actress – McDormand and Best Original Screenplay), and Joel Coen won Best Director at the Cannes Film Festival.

If you’re squeamish, or want to avoid language problems, better watch this one on TV where it’s sanitized a bit. This video features the accent that made the film so much fun to watch.