One time—I’m not sure when, but I believe in the past couple years—I tweeted that I thought Nicolas Cage was hot. I think it was in response to having just watched the Coen Brothers’ Raising Arizona for the first time, and I received a surprising amount of pushback against the claim. Admittedly, I have no proof to back this situation up beyond this slightly more recent tweet I made bemoaning the alleged pushback that transpired. But, at the time, I remember it not feeling like a particularly controversial statement to make. Yet it elicited a response like people were dismissing the hallucinatory ravings of a mental patient. You could argue that Nic Cage isn’t hot anymore (he is), because he’s in his 60s and people are reluctant to equate older age with beauty and yadda yadda yadda. But it was so obvious and simple and objective to me that he was hot in Raising Arizona. When he gets his mugshot taken in a Hawaiian shirt and white tank top, and rests his hand on the front of his belt, and makes that little smirk under his porn star mustache, I could truly just die. Couldn’t you?
But my aforementioned tweet was actually a response to this one, which carries an even more timeless statement: “We’re all just sitting around, living our stupid little lives and not constantly talking about how hot Nicolas Cage is in Moonstruck.” In that Academy Award-winning film, Cage plays the fiery, emotionally tormented, wooden-handed brother of Johnny Cammareri (Danny Aiello), fiancé of Loretta Castorini (Cher). The romantic comedy centers on Loretta, her Italian-American family—all living together in Brooklyn Heights—and her boyfriend who proposes to her one day before leaving to tend to his dying mother in Sicily. Though she does not love him, Loretta says yes to Johnny’s proposal. She wants a traditional marriage this time around, under the belief that her last one—which resulted in her husband getting fatally struck by a bus—was cursed. In turn, Johnny asks Loretta to invite his estranged brother, Ronny (Cage), to the wedding in order to purify any lasting bad blood.
When Loretta attempts to invite Ronny to the wedding, she learns that Ronny and Johnny are estranged because Ronny lost his hand during a moment of inattention partly due to Johnny’s interference at the time. Subsequently, Ronny’s fiancée left him, which he also blames Johnny for.
The interaction with Loretta is exacerbated by Ronny’s impetuous personality, which erupts into a symphonic diatribe (the kind Cage excels at) and results in Ronny politely asking one of the workers, Barbara (Robin Bartlett), at his bakery to hand him a knife so that he can kill himself. (We quickly learn after this scene ends, via an inconsequential and funny aside, that Barbara has been deeply in love with Ronny). Loretta insists that they talk things over more at his apartment, where further altercation leads to fervent lovemaking. Loretta ultimately realizes that security and contentment are no match for the chaos of true, real love—no matter what fate may befall it.
Though Ronny Cammareri is hot-tempered, melodramatic and prone to explosive outbursts, there’s a clear reason why Barbara is smitten with him…which is that he is all of these aforementioned things. He is passionate, romantic and a classic case of “I can fix him,” the latter being one of the easiest archetypes to get girls positively swooning over you. He is also a baker. But above all, Cage is incredibly hot in the role. Beyond the burning personality of his character, Cage just looks fucking great in Moonstruck.
He looks great in a tuxedo and coiffed hair when he takes Loretta on a date to the Metropolitan Opera. He looks great ranting and raving about his dismembered hand while sweaty and unshaven and with a mat of chest hair exposed from out of his undershirt. And he looks great at the end, asking plainly for Loretta’s hand in marriage. There is no point during Moonstruck where Cage doesn’t look hot. Nicolas Cage—who is hot—is quite frankly the hottest he has ever been in this movie. I was compelled to watch Moonstruck in the first place largely out of having seen stills from the movie online and feeling an overwhelming desire for one-handed Nic Cage.
Fun fact: Moonstruck was released in 1987 (the same year as Raising Arizona for a double header of hot young Nic Cage), making Cage only 22 or 23 during the time of filming. That means another very hot thing about the movie in general is that Cher is nearly 20 years his senior!
Moonstruck or no Moonstruck, Nicolas Cage is a very handsome, beautiful man. Who are we trying to fool by pretending that he’s not? Where is this hesitance coming from? Is it because he’s been bizarrely stripped of personhood as the years and histrionic performances have turned him into a meme? What are we to gain from denying the simple truth? My request of you, dear reader, if you are looking at this and shaking your head and scoffing and claiming that I must have “bad taste,” is that you take 102 minutes out of your day and watch Moonstruck. If you don’t come away having fallen in love with bare-shouldered baker Nic Cage, then I’m sorry, but your opinion is worth nothing, and I think you’re less of a person
Brianna Zigler is an entertainment writer based in middle-of-nowhere Massachusetts. Her work has appeared at Little White Lies, Film School Rejects, Thrillist, Bright Wall/Dark Room and more, and she writes a bi-monthly newsletter called That’s Weird. You can follow her on Twitter, where she likes to engage in stimulating discussions on films like Movie 43, Clifford, and Watchmen.