DEVIL IN A BLUE DRESS (1995)

(Easy Rawlins Mysteries)

Director: Carl Franklin

Adapted from novel of the same name written by Walter Moseley

Starring: Denzel Washington, Don Cheadle, Tom Sizemore, Jennifer Beal

Genre: Film noir (available in DVD)

Reviewed by Judith Fox

Excellent film noir set in 1948 in Los Angeles.

The most entertaining medium can be a movie and "Devil in a Blue Dress," to my delight, is one of those movies. The story is superb with a variety of characters and a convincing style. It's a film noir genre story set in the 1940s. Similar to "L.A. Confidential," it's a perfect example of a contemporary version of a film noir tale and adapted from Walter Moseley's novel of the same title. "Devil in a Blue Dress" is filmed in Los Angeles, where the story is also set. How much more convincing can you get? Easy Rawlins (Denzel Washington) is charming and witty as the narrator portraying a man who has returned from World War II. It opens with him being fired from his civilian job.

Welcome back, soldier!
You did your duty for your country.
Sure, you get a mortgage and a job.
Oh by the way, boy, you're fired.
You're black. Don't ask any questions.

It seems the color line hadn't changed since he was away battling for freedom. Out of work and trying to figure out how to pay his mortgage, Easy is paid $100 by a hood, De Wit Albright (Tom Sizemore), to find a beautiful white woman, Daphne (Jennifer Beals), and then tell him her whereabouts. This seems easy enough (pardon the pun), but the road to finding Daphne is strewn with obstacles including lack of respect from all sides of the law. Despite everything that happens, Easy locates the white woman and reports back to the sleazy De Wit. More money is paid to Easy so he'll go back and get some photographs she possesses. The flack that Easy is experiencing from everyone is making him mad.

"Everyone's peeing on my head and telling me it's raining?"

His rather-shoot-you-than-look-at-you-friend, Mouse (Don Cheadle), helps him in his new determination to get on top of this situation. There's a sleazy politician involved too, some blackmail and a bit of violence. Not a complicated plot, but the actors and the lead actor, Denzel Washington, make this a captivating film. With the setting of the 1940s fashions, sets, large snazzy cars of those days and the obvious color line, one can imagine living in Easy's time. The music is so cool that I want to buy the CDs -- it includes some Ella Fitzgerald.

I recommend this movie highly even if you don't usually watch the film noir genre. Take a chance, it's worth it.

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Edcom: There are two other reviews of this movie in our morgue. Would you like to read them? If so, please click on review one and/or review two.

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