In Honor of Mardi Gras, a Tribute to the Sexy Thriller 'The Big Easy'


Dennis Quaid and Ellen Barkin in ‘The Big Easy’ (Everett)

It’s Mardi Gras, that wonderful time of year when people all over the country express their appreciation for the city of New Orleans. And what better way for Yahoo Movies to celebrate our NOLA love than by paying tribute to the sexiest New Orleans movie of the 1980s, The Big Easy.

Technically, the 1987 crime drama is about cop corruption and a series of murders that take place in the Louisiana hot spot. But the central plot is secondary to the film’s really strong suit: the smoking hot chemistry between leads Dennis Quaid and Ellen Barkin and the quintessential, steamy love scene that results from it. (By the way, this movie is rated R, for your pleasure.)

How sexy is that scene in The Big Easy? In his review, Roger Ebert called it, “one of the most erotic love scenes I ever have seen in a movie.” Sheila Benson of the L.A. Times said, “It may be years before this scene of lovemaking fades from memory.” In a Vulture piece on the 30 most important sex scenes in movie history, Bilge Ebiri ranked the Quaid/Barkin swamp romp at number 19, noting that the scene single-handedly transformed Barkin’s image: “Previously, she had been cast mostly in mousy, repressed roles, in part because execs and agents didn’t find her pretty or sexy enough. Such was the power of The Big Easy that right afterwards, Barkin wound up getting typecast as a sexpot.” And let’s not forget the power of Quaid in this movie. The fact that he made lady parts quiver so effectively in this film while, by his own admission, also being out of head on cocaine during filming is staggering. Imagine how hot he could have been if he were sober!

Anyway, let’s play-by-play this sex scene a bit, just to put it in perspective:

Quaid’s character, bad-boy police detective Remy McSwain, gets things started with a pretty confident approach:


The scene moves to the unfastening of the uptight updo of Barkin’s character, assistant DA Anne Osbourne. The move is admittedly a cliché, but these two make it work:


Then the action moves to the bedroom, where Remy and Anne make sweet, sweet zydeco love. What is so sexy about it? Is it the fact that they’re both still, technically, dressed? That Anne is a little shy and Remy is so gently reassuring? That there are so many shadows in that bedroom that we can’t see what they’re doing, yet we know exactly what they’re doing? How about all of the above?


Yeah, that love scene is pretty great. But for the record, every time Quaid smiles in this movie, it’s basically quality foreplay:


We salute you The Big Easy, the perfect movie for Mardi Gras, or Valentine’s Day, or Dennis Quaid and Ellen Barkin Appreciation Day, which, really, should be every day.

Watch the trailer: