Raising Arizona (1987), written, directed, and produced by Joel and Ethan Coen, draws on various conventions of well-established film genres. Although the Coens employ an array of generic elements—including the western, noir, and road films—it is the romantic comedy that provides coherence and drives the film. This article explores Raising Arizona in a sustained context of romantic comedy formula and its relationship to popular notions of the American Dream. It argues for viewing the film as two distinct but interrelated romantic comedy narratives. A close reading of the film in this context reveals a conscious and sustained manipulation of the genre and demonstrates that Raising Arizona is a more coherent and challenging film than viewers may have considered.


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pp. 1-21
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