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Film / The Big Easy

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A 1987 comedic neo-noir crime thriller set in (where else?) New Orleans, directed by Jim McBride and starring Dennis Quaid and Ellen Barkin.

Remy McSwain (Quaid) is a mostly-honest cop investigating a series of gang killings; Anne Osborne (Barkin) is a special prosecutor for the district attorney on an anti-corruption campaign. They meet in the course of their work and quickly fall in love, but grapple over their different perspectives on justice. Meanwhile, those gang killings might not be gang killings after all, but something far more dangerous...


The film contains examples of:

  • Artistic License – Law: Mostly to demonstrate how loose the rules are in the South, but Remy investigates a crime scene while under investigation, which is certain to cause any evidence discovered to get thrown out. Not to mention his abbreviation of the Miranda Rights.
    Remy: An officer will be along to get you in a few minutes. If you so much as get your fingerprints on my car, they will kick your ass. Do you understand your rights?
  • As Himself: Judge Jim Garrison, who proceeds over Remy's trial.
  • Beware the Silly Ones: Remy qualifies, being a bit of a prankster AND an effective police officer. Also, DeSoto and Dodge. Despite being comic relief for the majority of the movie, they are the primary pushers behind the conspiracy of detectives faking a gang war to steal drugs from the various criminal organizations.
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  • The Big Easy: Naturally
  • Black Sheep: Remy's entire family are police officers... except one cousin, who is a fireman
  • The Cast Show Off: Several of the background songs were performed by Quaid
  • Devil in Plain Sight: The movie lays out who the bad guys really are within the first fifteen minutes... if you are paying attention
  • Dirty Cop: Played with. As Roger Ebert put it, "[McSwain] is an honest cop in the ways that really count and a dishonest cop in small ways he has been able to rationalize." To Anne, who is campaigning against corruption, it looks a lot worse than it probably is. The real villains are also Dirty Cops, who have been using their position to steal and resell drugs
  • Extended Disarming: Detective DeSoto, in an infamous sequence
    DeSoto: [after being relieved of two knives, a blackjack, brass knuckles, two revolvers, and a derringer] And if that don't work, I piss on 'em.
  • Eureka Moment
    Anne: Where's the boat?
  • Fair Cop: Both Remy and Anne are both ridiculously attractive, and feel their chemistry immediately.
  • Happily Ever After: Remy and Anne settle their differences, solve the case, and get married.
  • Heroic BSoD: Remy when he realizes that not only is his future stepfather is behind The Conspiracy that shot his brother, but everything he taught him about being a cop in the Big Easy was false
  • It's Always Mardi Gras in New Orleans: Averted, although the movie has it's cake and eats it too by having a murder occur in a warehouse where the floats are stored and later having a band practicing for the parade.
    Bobby McSwain: Why are you wearing that get-up? Mardi Gras ain't til February.
  • Love Redeems: It isn't until Anne shows him exactly how letting the little things slip have hurt him that Remy stops being a Dirty Cop and starts living up to his potential as a Good Cop
  • The Mafia: The investigative plot involves the police investigating a gang war between these guys and The Cartel.
  • Mistaken for Object of Affection: After a night of lovemaking, Anne mistakes Bobby McSwain for his brother Remy, coming up behind him and pinching his ass. The brothers aren't all that identical, but given that she had no reason to expect any other man in the house and her view of Bobby was mostly of his rear end as he bent to rummage through the fridge, it is perhaps an understandable mistake.
  • Mistaken from Behind: Anne sees Bobby McSwain rummaging through the fridge and mistakes him for his brother Remy, with embarrassing consequences. See Mistaken for Object of Affection, above.
    • And then again, when Bobby is wearing his brother's coat. This time, it's Dirty Cops who think it's Remy, shooting him.
  • Mob War: The driving conflict behind the story. Except not. The conflict is being manufactured by Dirty Cops, who are using the seized drugs to fill their retirement funds
  • Retirony: Captain Jack Kellom was gonna retire on the New Year and marry Remy's mother. Too bad he Outlived His Usefulness to the rest of the Dirty Cops
  • Sexophone: Naturally, in an early Dennis Quaid movie.
  • Slap-Slap-Kiss: She's a straight-laced DA from out of state, he's a good cop who nonetheless bends the rules because that's how things are done in town. Their relationship couldn't be any other way.
  • Unusual Euphemism: The 'widows and orphans fund' is what the police call the regular bribes they're receiving.

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