The Big Easy (1987)

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Released 16-Aug-2001

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Thriller Production Notes
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 1987
Running Time 96:38 (Case: 100)
RSDL / Flipper No/No Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 4 Directed By Jim McBride

Starring Dennis Quaid
Ellen Barkin
Ned Beatty
John Goodman
Case Amaray-Transparent
RPI $32.95 Music Brad Fiedel

Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 2.0 (224Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.85:1
16x9 Enhancement
Not 16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.85:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles None Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

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Plot Synopsis

    The Big Easy is film set in New Orleans surrounding the investigation of a series of gangland murders that may involve police corruption.

    Police detective Remy McSwain (Dennis Quaid) is in charge of an investigation dealing with a supposed Mafia hit that soon turns into a series of gangland murders. District Attorney Anne Osborne (Ellen Barkin) joins the case to investigate a possible link to police corruption. Despite the obvious conflict of interest, Remy and Anne quickly become romantically involved until Remy is charged with corruption.

    The Big Easy grossed over eighteen million dollars at the box office and spawned a television series that ran for two years a decade after the movie's theatrical release. While quite watchable, the success of this film is a little surprising as the plot is quite predictable and there are no real stand-out performances. Dennis Quaid's attempt at a Southern accent definitely falls short and is very inconsistent throughout. This film is watchable, but very forgettable, and it always feels like you are watching a midday movie.

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Transfer Quality


    The transfer is presented in an aspect ratio of approximately 1.85:1 and is NOT 16:9 enhanced.

    Sharpness is never a problem during this transfer but a couple of scenes are slightly out of focus making them appear very soft. At no stage is any low level noise apparent during the transfer. Lack of shadow detail is a small problem during the transfer as many dark scenes have little information discernable in the background.

    The colour appears slightly muted throughout but is always consistent and is never a problem for the viewer.

    Some minimal MPEG artefacts can be seen during the transfer. In the initial title sequence, some slight macro-blocking is present but this is not distracting to the viewer because of the poor quality source materials utilized for this sequence. A number of other encoding errors may be seen at 81:29, 82:10 and 83:05 when parts of the frame appear to move independently. As each of these artefacts have only a short duration, they are only slightly distracting to the viewer.

    Some small aliasing artefacts may be seen at 7:00, 35:06, 47:40 and 60:55 but they are only slightly distracting.

    Surprisingly, there is very little in the way of film-based artefacts present during this transfer and the small number that occur are not disruptive to the viewer. Some examples of these artefacts may be seen at 46:40, 69:27, 69:55 and 73:30.

Video Ratings Summary
Shadow Detail
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts


    A single Dolby Digital 2.0 surround 224 kbps track is present on the disc. It should be noted that the packaging incorrectly shows the symbol for a Dolby Digital 2.1 soundtrack.

    During some sections of the film the dialogue can be a little hard to understand due to a combination of a slightly muffled recording and the poor accents of some of the actors.

    During one scene beginning at 65:44 there are some slight sync issues that are obviously the result of ADR work. At no other stage are any other dialogue sync issues seen. No audio dropouts were detected during the transfer.

    Despite the surround flag being enabled on this disc, there is no use of the surround channels. The audio mix appears to be a mono track and comes almost entirely from the center channel. The front main channels are only very minimally used and appear to only be activated by some 'leakage' from the center channel.

    The score for this film is very typical of the time and is extremely forgettable. Dramatic and suspenseful moments are obviously sign-posted which is a little annoying sometimes.

Audio Ratings Summary
Audio Sync
Surround Channel Use


    Despite the claims on the packaging, no cast biographies are included.


    The static menus are presented in an aspect ratio of 1.33:1.

Cast Filmographies

    Extensive filmographies are provided for Dennis Quaid, Ellen Barkin, Ned Beatty and John Goodman.

Production Notes

    Seventeen pages of production notes are included covering a range of topics including the locations used and the preparations the actors made for their roles.


    There is censorship information available for this title. Click here to read it (a new window will open). WARNING: Often these entries contain MAJOR plot spoilers.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

     The Region 4 version of this disc misses out on;

    The Region 1 version of this disc misses out on;

    Both versions of this film appear to be nearly identical. As the production notes provide some interesting information my preference would only slightly be for the R4 release.


    The Big Easy is a watchable if somewhat forgettable film that holds no real surprises.

    The video transfer is acceptable but would have been significantly improved with 16x9 enhancement.

    The essentially mono audio track is functional but disappointing.

    The small amount of extras included on this disc provide some insight into the production but a theatrical trailer would have been a welcome inclusion.

Ratings (out of 5)


© Anthony Kable (read my bio)
Tuesday, July 10, 2001
Review Equipment
DVDToshiba 1200, using S-Video output
DisplaySony KP-E41SN11. Calibrated with Video Essentials.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Video Essentials.
AmplificationFront left/right: ME75b; Center: DA50ES; rear left/right: DA50ES; subwoofer: NAD 2600 (Bridged)
SpeakersFront left/right: VAF DC-X; Center: VAF DC-6; rear left/right: VAF DC-7; subwoofer: Custom NHT-1259

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