Big Easy to Love
One of my favorite films from the 1980s is The Big Easy. I watched it again this week so I could write this review and it’s still great! Although just a word of a whinge – the DVD version misses out the gorgeous marriage proposal at the end that I remember so fondly from the video. I was watching the DVD because I lent the video to somebody who never returned it. Grrrr! On both counts, the bad cut and the non-return!
For those who haven’t seen it – and it always surprises me that a lot of people haven’t! – it sounds like a fairly bog standard mystery/suspense/cop thriller with a bit of romance thrown in. But ‘bog standard’ are the last words I’d use to describe this wonderful film.
First of all there’s the setting. “The Big Easy” is what they call New Orleans (I only know this courtesy of this film!) and the atmosphere and vibrancy of the city permeate the story, as does the presence of the Mississippi. The setting also lends itself to one of the glories of the film, the great soundtrack featuring amazing Cajun and Zydeco artists. It’s one of my favorite CDs!
Then there’s the romance. Because the heart of this story is the relationship between uptight out-of-town lawyer Anne Osborne (Ellen Barkin) and louche, sexy bad boy cop Remy McSwain (Dennis Quaid). What’s funny is that I’ve just re-read Welcome To Temptation by Jennifer Crusie for a review on Romance Novel TV and this movie gets a mention in that as one of the best love scenes ever. “Your luck’s about to change, chere.” Wow, what a man!
Watching this again, I was struck by the fact that this film is about how appearances deceive. The city with all its glitter and flash has a dark underbelly of racism and murder and drug addiction and corruption. Remy isn’t at all the shallow, careless, pleasure-seeking rogue he presents himself as at the start. In fact, Remy would be a great Regency hero as his character undergoes an arc from rake to genuine man of honor. Anne is both stronger and sexier than she either believes or acts when we first meet her. It’s lovely that Remy immediately recognizes how smart and brave she is when she’s so awkward with herself and her sexuality. By the end (the lovely marriage proposal missing from this DVD), he’s the one unsure of himself in this new landscape of love and she’s the one who knows exactly what she wants and how to get it.
Nothing is quite as easy as it seems in The Big Easy!