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Thursday, March 21, 2013

Scenes of the Crime: The Big Easy

One of my fellow bloggers, the awesome Brent Allard over at Criminal Movies is participating in a series called Scenes of the Crime by Furious Cinema. For my piece, I've chosen the best Dennis Quaid movie ever, in my opinion, 1986's The Big Easy.

Dennis is Remy McSwain, a New Orleans police detective who is investigating the murder of a local mobster. As he unravels the mystery, he suspects that some fellow officers may be behind the killing. His work has him crossing paths with Anne Osborne, played by Ellen Barkin, a district attorney who is charged with rooting out police corruption. As they work the case together, she witnesses Remy participate in some rather unorthodox behavior like free meals and coffee, small things that lead her to accuse him of being on the take.

Remy is all smooth Cajun charm, laughing off her suspicions, telling her that "...this is way things work down in the Big Easy, cher." To him, the son of a cop, free meals, a gift every now and again, is all part of business as usual for the NOPD. He sees nothing wrong with a little gratuity here and there. After all the boys in blue put their lives on the line for the citizens every day. It's just the way the people of New Orleans show their gratitude.

Remy keeps trying to charm Anne into coming around to his way of thinking even as he finds damning evidence of bigger, more insidious corruption. Anne grows more suspicious of Remy and his fellow cops, though, and when Remy is caught accepting a bribe during an Internal Affairs sting, she is forced to prosecute him. Her tentative trust in him is now shattered.

The blue line stands and evidence disappears, clearing Remy and humiliating Anne. After his sudden acquittal, Remy becomes disillusioned, realizing that his fellow officers, his own father included, really are committing crimes. He knows he has to stop them if he is ever going to live with himself and remain a cop.

The script by Daniel Petrie, Jr. is amazing and astute. He sets up an intriguing, thriller-type mystery, that draws the audience in and holds them hostage. Remy and Anne are strong protagonists whose visions are absolute. Remy grew up in the system, this is his world and he sees nothing wrong. He is a cop and for him being a cop is not just about the justice, it's about the respect of the people. Anne is unswerving in her vision of black and white, right and wrong. The chemistry between Quaid and Barkin is so volatile, they sizzle in their scenes together, incinerating the screen. The supporting cast is beyond magnificent and includes John Goodman, Ned Beatty, Grace Zabriskie, and the late great R&B singer Solomon Burke as mobster Daddy Mention.

This movie is ripe with atmosphere, the city of New Orleans a supporting character herself. Director Jim McBride takes us into the Big Easy from the colorful streets to Lake Pontchartrain and the Mississippi Delta and the bayou. The scenes are steeped in Nawlins style. The score by composer Brad Fiedel is pure delta jazz and blues with lots of horns and zydeco beats. Big Easy's soundtrack features gospel, zydeco, cajun and R&B music. Performers include Professor Longhair, Aaron Neville and the Neville Brothers, Beausoleil, The Dixie Cups and a piece by Dennis Quaid. He wrote and performed the song "Closer to You" in the film.

I cannot say enough about this picture. It gets me every time I watch it and I highly recommend seeing it if you get the chance. Or pulling it out if you haven't watched in a very long time.

38 comments:

  1. It's been years since I watched that film. Need to dump it in the NetFlix queue. Along with the dozens of other movies I rediscovered on Monday!

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    1. I rediscovered a lot of movies myself on Monday. What a great fest! Big Easy is definitely worth another watch, it is a gem of a flick that will keep you entertained. And the music just rocks. :)

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  2. Hey Melissa,

    Wow, what an awesome review... I haven't seen the Big Easy in donkey's years, but I'm going to look for it on Netflix.

    Right. Now!

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    1. Thank you Mark, your words mean a lot. You will really enjoy Big Easy, it's a favorite of mine and I have worn out a VHS tape watching it. :)

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  3. Awesome! Makes me want to rent it!

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    1. Yay!! You will really enjoy this one, Jennifer. It's a great weekend movie night title.

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  4. Good review. Been a while since I saw it last, but this makes me want to take another look.

    mood
    Moody Writing

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    1. Thank you so much, Mood. I'm delighted to know this makes you want to see the film again. :)

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  5. I don't think I've ever seen it. I used to have the poster. (I worked in several video stores when I was younger and had quite the collection of posters and standees.)

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    1. My friend's sister worked in a video store around ehre, Video King. What an awesome place. And yes, they had the most incredible collection of posters and an Aliens standee.

      You should totally see this movie. It is great!

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    1. Dez, it is a great film sweetheart, but you may not get into the darkness of it. Still, Dennis looks very hot in this movie so you may like that part. :)

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  7. I love that movie. I wish I had remembered it for the blogfest.

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    1. It is a great film, isn't it? I should have put it on my list, too. :)

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  8. Sounds like an awesome series. Brent's a great blogger and a brilliant film enthusiast.

    I like to think I'm an expert on crime films, but I only vaguely remember seeing this movie when I was younger. Unacceptable. That means revisiting is inevitable. I trust your high praise.

    Great post :)

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    1. Thanks! I'm very happy I can recommend a film to one who is so well-versed in crime movies. You have to revisit soon, I think that you will enjoy it very much. Particularly some of the performances.

      I love Brent's posts. He has such a knowledge and enthusiasm for the crime film genre.

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  9. Great review, I've never seen this movie but have heard of it, might have to give it a run at home.

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    1. Thank you! Do see this if you get a chance, it is well-worth the watch and I think you'd really enjoy it.

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  10. I love these types of movies. Film Noir is really a lost art form these days. Great review Melissa. Dennis Quaid rocks hard

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  11. Thank you, Maurice! This is a great film noir type with really complex and intriguing characters. I think it is Quaid's best performance ever.

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  12. Great post, Mel! I'm so glad you got in on the blogathon! Great choice of film and you covered it so well. I'll have to revisit it soon!

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    1. Thank you, Brent! Your words mean a lot as you are one of my fave film people. This was awesome and allowed me to spotlight one of my favorite films.

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  13. That was a great movie. Hard to pick a favorite Dennis Quaid movie though.

    ......dhole

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    1. Dennis does have some awesome flicks. I also am huge into The Rookie and Frequency.

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  14. Yes, The Big Easy is a good film, beautiful.

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  15. Can't believe I've never seen this! I'm putting it on my list!! :)

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    1. Oh Jemi, it is such a terrific movie. I'm so happy you're going to watch it.

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  16. I'm embarrassed to say I don't remember if I saw it or not. I may've watched it when it first came out. Your description really intrigues me, especially with New Orleans as a supporting character herself. Great write-up on a suspenseful movie. Thanks, Melissa.

    Be well, my friend.
    xoRobyn

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    1. Thank you so much, Robyn, for the wonderful compliment. I hope you watch it again, it is so good and Dennis looks so very hot in there. I would have fallen for his tricks so Ellen was far stronger woman than I LOL.

      Hugs!

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  17. It's been so long since I've seen the movie, I don't remember much of it at all. I love your description of it, though.

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    1. Thank you, Christine. I hope you watch it again really soon. I just love this movie and it is definitely one of my most favorite films.

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  18. Hi Melissa,

    Great review! We do have this movie, but I haven't watched it in years. You made me want to watch it again though, so I will soon. I love watching things about New Orleans; I have only been there once. and really want to go back so that I can blog about it.

    Thanks so much for the sweet things you said on my new job. You are awesome.

    Kathy M.

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    1. New Orleans is a such an amazing and exciting city. I would love to go back myself. I'm happy you enjoyed my take on this film and that you want to check it out again.

      Aww.. big hugs and the best of luck on your new job. you will be wonderful. :)

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  19. I've never seen this move but you've gone and hooked me with your summary - I'll be checking it out!

    Thanks.

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    1. Thank you so much, Kimberly, your words mean a lot coming from a very talented fellow writer. I hope you see it soon, it is a great, great movie. :)

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  20. Ah, I've seen that a long time ago and as far as I remember, I pretty much liked it.

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    1. I think that you would have, the cast is just awesome and the story is twisted. It's just amazing.

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