The Big Easy (film)
|The Big Easy|
Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Jim McBride|
|Produced by||Stephen J. Friedman|
|Screenplay by||Daniel Petrie, Jr.|
|Music by||Brad Fiedel|
|Edited by||Mia Goldman|
|Distributed by||Columbia Pictures|
|Running time||108 minutes|
The Big Easy is a 1987 American crime drama directed by Jim McBride and written by Daniel Petrie Jr. The film stars Dennis Quaid, Ellen Barkin, John Goodman, and Ned Beatty. The film was both set and shot on location in New Orleans, Louisiana.
Anne Osborne, a state district attorney, is sent to investigate alleged police corruption. After seeing firsthand some unorthodox practices by Remy, Anne accuses him of being on the take. He argues that she does not have an understanding of how the system works in New Orleans for police.
Despite Osborne's suspicious and apprehensive feelings towards him, they form a relationship. McSwain is caught accepting payoffs in an Internal Affairs sting, and Osborne has the burden of prosecuting him. With the assistance of fellow officers within the police force, the evidence is suppressed. McSwain is cleared of the charges, at which point Anne, becoming aware of such, is faced with the conflict of her personal feelings for Remy and her duty to uphold the law. It is later revealed that Jack Kellom (Ned Beatty), Remy's boss and the two detectives De Soto (John Goodman) and Dodge (Ebbe Roe Smith) are behind the murder and a stash of heroin is hidden at a boat yard. Kellom goes to the boat and is confronted by De Soto and Dodge. Kellom suggests getting rid of the drugs but De Soto shoots Kellom. Remy and Anne arrive and are confronted by De Soto and Dodge and a shootout starts resulting in De Soto being shot by a fatally wounded Kellom and Dodge being shot with a flare gun by Remy which starts a fire and Remy and Anne run just before the boat explodes.
Filming took 50 days and the lead actors rehearsed three weeks before the start of principal photography.
Well-known New Orleans district attorney Jim Garrison makes a cameo appearance as a judge. Garrison became known for his Kennedy assassination conspiracy theories and his own investigation into JFK's murder from New Orleans in the 1960s.
City of New Orleans
The city of New Orleans and its atmospherics function as a protagonist in the film. This is evident from the beginning of the film: The opening is an aerial shot of the New Orleans bayou and the cajun band BeauSoleil plays "Zydeco Gris Gris" on the soundtrack (title sequence).
It opened in wide release in the United States and Canada on August 21, 1987. The first week's gross was $3,626,031 (1,138 screens) and the total receipts for the run were $17,685,307. In its widest release the film was featured in 1,219 theaters. The motion picture was in circulation five weeks.
Roger Ebert, film critic of the Chicago Sun-Times, lauded the film, and wrote, "The Big Easy is one of the richest American films of the year. It also happens to be a great thriller. I say 'happens,' because I believe the plot of this movie is only an excuse for its real strength: the creation of a group of characters so interesting, so complicated and so original they make a lot of other movie people look like paint-by-number characters."
Film critic Vincent Canby was a bit tougher on the film, and wrote, "Remy and Anne are made for each other, or would have been if The Big Easy were the sophisticated comedy it could have been...[the film] was directed by Jim McBride who one day is going to come up with a commercial movie that works all the way through, and not just in patches."
Critics Frederic and Mary Ann Brussat, of the web site Spirituality & Practice, liked the film, and wrote, "The Big Easy says a lot about the peculiar problems and exhilarations which are the daily fare of law enforcement officers...The sparks fly in their volatile love affair which is kept heated throughout by director Tim McBride. Veteran cop writer Joseph Wambaugh once commented that 'an unlucky policeman's life passes through four phases — cockiness, care, compromise, and despair. The lucky ones don't reach phase four.' All of these phases — and perhaps a few more — are convincingly brought to life in The Big Easy, a movie with moral clout and dramatic spunk."
The review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes reported that 88% of critics gave the film a positive review, based on 34 reviews. The film is praised for the accuracy of Quaid's Cajun accent, which he meticulously researched in preparation for the role. However, residents of the New Orleans area were not so pleased, referring to it as "cringe-inducing."
- 1987 — Cognac Festival du Film Policier, Cognac, France: Grand Prix
- 1987 — Valladolid International Film Festival: Best Actor, Dennis Quaid
- 1988 — Independent Spirit Awards: Best Male Lead Dennis Quaid
- 1988 — Sant Jordi Awards: Sant Jordi; Best Foreign Actress, Ellen Barkin
- 1988 — Anthony Award: Best Movie
- 1988 — Independent Spirit Awards: Best Director, Jim McBride; Best Feature, Stephen J. Friedman
- 1988 — Casting Society of America: Artios Award; Best Casting for Feature Film, Drama, Lynn Stalmaster and David Rubin
- 1988 — Edgar Allan Poe Awards: Edgar; Best Motion Picture, Daniel Petrie Jr.
The film was first shown in 1986 at various film festivals including the Cognac Festival du Film Policier, the Davao City Film Festival in the Philippines, the Valladolid International Film Festival in Spain, and the Sundance Film Festival before being picked up for distribution. According to Robert Redford, founder of Sundance, The Big Easy was the first film sold at the festival. Redford tells of dragging David Puttnam, then the head of Columbia Pictures, to see the film. After the screening, Puttnam decided to pick up the movie for distribution.
The film inspired a television series of the same name. The show premiered on the USA Cable Network August 11, 1996. Tony Crane played McSwain and Susan Walters played Anne Osbourne. There were approximately 35 episodes broadcast over two seasons. Although Daniel Petrie Jr. (who wrote the screenplay to the original film) was credited as an executive producer of the series, Petrie has stated that he was "not at all" involved in the series, receiving only "a credit and money".
An original motion picture soundtrack CD was assembled by label executive Danny Holloway and released in 1987 on the Island label. The CD contains twelve tracks including "Tipitina," played by New Orleans pianist Professor Longhair, the New Orleans anthem "Iko Iko," by The Dixie Cups, and a ballad, "Closer To You," written and performed by actor Dennis Quaid who also performs the song in the film. Other performers on the album include BeauSoleil, Buckwheat Zydeco, Dewey Balfa, Aaron Neville and The Neville Brothers.
- Box Office Mojo.
- The Big Easy at the American Film Institute Catalog.
- The Big Easy (television series) at the Internet Movie Database.
- Van Gelder, Lawrence. The New York Times, August 28, 1987.
- The Numbers box office data. Last accessed: December 5, 2007.
- Ebert, Roger. Chicago Sun-Times, film review, August 21, 1987. Accessed: August 4, 2013.
- Benson, Sheila. Los Angeles Times, Calendar Section, film review, August 21, 1987.
- Canby, Vincent. The New York Times, film review, "The Big Easy, Comedy About Police Case," August 21, 1987.
- Brussat, Frederic and Mary Ann Brussat. Spirituality & Practice, film review, 1970 – 2007. Last accessed: March 22, 2008.
- The Big Easy at Rotten Tomatoes. Last accessed: August 2, 2013.
- "Dennis Quaid says that..." at New Orleans Times-Picayune Last accessed: July 22, 2014.
- Hernandez, Eugene and Anne Hubbell. IndieWire, January 22, 2000.
- IMDb, The Big Easy (television series), ibid.
- The Big Easy (television series) The Big Easy television series Wikipedia link
- Interview with Daniel Petrie Jr by Paul Rowlands, accessed 20 May 2013
|Wikiquote has quotations related to: The Big Easy (film)|
- The Big Easy at the American Film Institute Catalog
- The Big Easy at the Internet Movie Database
- The Big Easy at AllMovie
- The Big Easy at the TCM Movie Database
- The Big Easy draft script from Daily Script, for educational purposes
- The Big Easy film review by Siskel & Ebert at YouTube
- The Big Easy film trailer at YouTube