Raising Arizona | 1987
Joel and Ethan Coen really hit the spot with this brilliantly inventive physical farce, made in, yes, Arizona, around Phoenix and its suburb Scottsdale, where petty recidivist HI McDunnough (Nicolas Cage) is in and out of jail for a string of robberies on a long-suffering grocery store.
His regular target for robbery, the Short Stop grocery store, is now Circle K, 2311 West Deer Valley Road, at North 23rd Avenue, north of Phoenix.
The exterior of ‘Maricopa County Maximum Security Correctional Facility For Men’, to which McDunnough is repeatedly sent, is the 24th Street Water Treatment Plant, North 24th Street at the Arizona Canal, Phoenix, overlooked by the Piestewa Peak Park.
Falling in love with police officer Ed (Holly Hunter), as she repeatedly takes his mugshot at Tempe Police Station, 5th Street, Tempe, HI determines to reform, and the two are soon setting up a ‘starter home in suburban Tempe’, which turns out to be a trailer at Lost Dutchman State Park, 6109 North Apache Trail, Apache Junction, east of Scottsdale.
The birth of the ‘Arizona Quints’ to furniture magnate Nathan Arizona (Trey Wilson) and his wife Florence, proves too much of a temptation to the childless McDunnoughs, who embark on their own programme for the fairer redistribution of babies.
The striking adobe home of the Arizonas was the historic 1925 Jokake Inn, on North Phoenician Boulevard, which is now incorporated into the Phoenician Resort, 6000 East Camelback Road, at the foot of Camelback Mountain in Scottsdale.
The showroom of ‘Unpainted Arizona’ – “the largest chain of unpainted furniture and bathroom fixture outlets throughout the southwest” – is Home Depot, 12434 North Cave Creek Road, Cave Creek, a northern suburb of Phoenix.
Once HI loses his job, it’s back to Short Stop, and the start of one of the funniest chase scenes ever, which takes the inept robber through the old Safeway store (since demolished) on Main Street in Mesa.
Escaped convicts Gale and Evelle Snoats (John Goodman and William Forsythe) set out to rob the ‘Farmers and Mechanics Bank of La Grange’, taking with them baby Nathan Jr. The bank was actually a restaurant, the now closed Reata Pass Steakhouse, 27500 North Alma School Parkway, south from East Dynamite Boulevard, north of Scottsdale toward Carefree.
It’s at Reata Pass, with its distinctive water tower, that HI finally faces up to the Lone Biker of the Apocalypse.
With the Snoats voluntarily returning to jail, and Nathan Jr returned to the Arizona family, all that’s left is for HI to dream of a blissful future, as a grown-up Nathan Jr plays football at the Sun Devil Stadium, 500 East Veterans Way, on the campus of Arizona State University in Tempe.
And, no. It’s not Utah.