It’s also the location of many movies, earning the nickname Hollywood South in reference to the many films that have been shot there in recent years.
This weekend the new Sylvester Stallone Y-chromosome thriller Bullet to the Head takes place in the gritty underbelly of post-Katrina New Orleans. As they say in NOLA it lets “the bonne temps roulez” with some spectacular Crescent City scenery, good zydeco party music all washed down with a healthy shot of Bulleit bourbon.
Many recent movies have used the city as a backdrop, including Django Unchained, Looper, Killing them Softly, Killer Joe and Beasts of the Southern Wild.
Tennessee Williams loved the “Big Easy” so much he once said, “America has only three cities: New York, San Francisco and New Orleans. Everywhere else is Cleveland.” Enamored with the place, he set several of his plays there, most famously A Streetcar Named Desire which contains one of the most famous lines in movie history.
As played by Marlon Brando, Stanley Kowalski’s barbaric yell of “Stella!!” was voted one of the best movie quotes by the American Film Institute.
Streetcar’s director, Elia Kazan also set Panic in the Streets, the story of a doctor and a policeman who have just two days to find a killer infected with a highly contagious form of bubonic plague, in 1950s New Orleans. It’s dirty, dangerous, and claustrophobic — the perfect setting for a film noir.
Shot on location in New Orleans, it’s as though the freewheeling attitude of the city loosened Kazan up a bit. “I went wild,” he said. “It was a carny atmosphere. In one sequence, for extras we emptied a whorehouse of its girls; that was a jolly day. Living irregularly, I was in heaven.”
One movie to take advantage of the city’s connection to the occult—NOLA was, after all, the home of Voodoo priestess Marie Laveau—was Angel Heart. Mickey Rourke is Harry Angel, a New York City detective, hired by a mysterious man named Louis Cyphre (Robert De Niro). The role of Louis Cyphre (say it fast to hear the homophone) was originally offered to Marlon Brando who turned it down.