Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Movie Moments 3: Reel Sex in New Orleans

Give the Lady a Hand, The Big Easy

In mainstream films, sex between two characters who are attracted to each other is almost always easy, once it occurs: everything gets hot and steamy and it's instant orgasms for all. The Big Easy (1987) is an exception.

New Orleans distric attorney Anne Osborn (Ellen Barkin) is falling in love with bad-boy cop Remy McSwain (Dennis Quaid), but when they go to bed together, the usual hot-and-steamy doesn't happen for her. She stops and says she's no good at sex, but he reaches down with his hand and changes her mind.
This scene still stands out among the millions of scenes of women instantly melting underneath men.

Come to think of it, the film is like that great New Orleans movie, Streetcar Named Desire, if that movie were a film-noir crime story with a happy romance between the two main characters instead of what it is, which is quite the opposite. So I guess it's not like it at all, except that Streetcar also does not show the heroine melting into the strong man's arms: Stanley (Marlon Brando) quite clearly rapes Blanche (Vivien Leigh), and she does not enjoy it.

[The image is from the Big Easy's movie soundtrack, which features Cajun, zydeco, and other Louisiana styles.]

4 comments:

ddip said...

A similar memorable sex scene along these lines is in a fairly recent French film starring my favorite Charlotte Rampling. In English it's called "Under the Sand" (I can't remember if this is a straight translation from "Sous le Sable" or if the French version has a totally different title.)

In any case, the movie is about the mysterious death of Charlotte Rampling's movie husband, who walks into the ocean while they're on vacation--presumably for a swim--and never comes back out. They do eventually find the body a long time afterward, but it's never clear if he committed suicide or if he was sucked under by the water or abducted by French outerspace aliens.

Charlotte's journey is to get on with her life in the face of the mysteries of her husband's death, and she begins a sexual relationship with a fellow academic who is quite a bit smaller than her big, "costeau" (beefy) husband was. At one point during a sexual encounter, she is underneath him and starts to laugh hysterically. The man is naturally startled and embarrassed and asks her what's up. "You're so much LIGHTER than my husband!" she roars with laughter.

It's a great scene because it's such a true, funny, real moment between the two, and they do eventually "get back at it," with her on top!

fresca said...

That's great! I haven't seen that movie--already on Day 2 of this little series, I've added about a million movies to my Netflix--now I will have to add that one too.

Professor Zero said...

I am pretty sure there is someone in my university who gives a course on representations of Louisiana in film.
I need to check on this. Many people give courses on Louisiana authors. But it occurs to me someone - me? - should give representations of N.O. in literary and filmic texts from around the world. Not that I need more new innovative courses to create but ... it is such a trope!

fresca said...

N.O. in Film---what a great course and set of movies that would be!
If you come up with a list, Professor, I'd love to see it.