Dollar, Live and Learn

Lessons from ‘Raising Arizona’

Leonard Smalls knows what the market will bear
Leonard Smalls knows what the market will bear

The following selection is from the 1987 Coen brothers comedy ‘Raising Arizona.’

Nathan Arizona’s son, Nathan Jr., has been kidnapped. His furniture mogul father places a $25,000 reward for him. Hilarity and economic wit ensues when a manhunter named Leonard Smalls comes and visits Nathan Sr. at his unpainted furniture store:

Nathan Arizona, Sr.: Mister…I got the cops, state troopers, Federal BI, already lookin’ for my boy. Now if you got information…

Leonard Smalls: The cops won’t find your boy. A cop couldn’t find his butt if he had a bell on it. You wanna find an outlaw, you call an outlaw. You wanna find a Dunkin’ Donuts, call a cop.

Nathan Arizona, Sr.: Smalls, first off, get your damn feet off my furniture. Second off, it’s widely known I posted a twenty-five grand reward for my boy. Now if you can find him, claim it. Short of that, what have we got to talk about?

Leonard Smalls: Price. Fair price. That’s not what you say it is. That’s what the market will bear. Simple economics. Now there are people – and, mind you, I know ’em – that’ll pay a lot more than $25,000 for a healthy baby.

Nathan Arizona, Sr.: What are you after?

Leonard Smalls: I’ll give you an idea. As a pup, I myself fetched $30,000 on the black market. And that was in 1954 dollars. Now, for fifty grand, I’ll track him and I’ll find him. And the people that took him…I’ll kick their butts. No extra charge.

Nathan Arizona, Sr.: And if I don’t pay?

Leonard Smalls: I’ll get the boy regardless. And if you don’t pay, the market will.

Supply and demand fetching what the market will bear and inflation all rolled into one movie quote. Doesn’t get much better than that. Even bounty hunters benefit from knowing a little economics!


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