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Good natured Reverend Henry Biggs finds that his marriage to choir mistress Julia is flagging, due to his constant absence caring for the deprived neighborhood they live in. On top of all ... See full summary »
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It is 1948 in LA and Ezikeal "Easy" Rawlins, an African-American World War II veteran, is looking for work. At his friend's bar, he is introduced to a white man, DeWitt Albright, who is looking for someone to help him find a missing white woman assumed to be hiding somewhere in LA's Black community. This woman, Daphane Monet, happens to be the fiancée of a wealthy "blue blood," Todd Carter, who is currently the favorite in the city's mayoralty race. Daphane Monet is known to frequent the Black jazz clubs in LA. Easy, innocently, accepts Albright's offer; however, he quickly finds himself amidst murder, crooked cops, ruthless politicians, and brutalizing hoodlums. This is a Chandler-esque "who-done-it" with an African-American theme. Written by
Joel Schesser <email@example.com>
A movie theater marquee that Easy passes is advertising "The Betrayal by Oscar Micheaux." Oscar Micheaux was the first African-American to produce a feature-length film. See more »
In the scene where Frank Green comes to pay Easy a visit at his home, they began to fight in the doorway and Easy punches Frank in the back of the head several times knocking his hat and Frank onto the floor. But when the scene changes and Frank hops back up with his knife the hat is back on his head like it never fell off. See more »
It was summer 1948, and I needed money. After goin' door-to-door all day long, I was back again at Joppy's bar trying to figure out where I was gonna go looking for work the next day. The newspapers was goin' on and on about the city elections - like they was really gonna change somebody's life. But my life had already changed when I lost my job three weeks before.
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Highly regarded, but it's filled with empty nostalgia and clichés galore
Devil in a Blue Dress (1995)
I wanted to like this movie. A good friend pressed it forward as a belated view of the black noir experience, and there was such truth that the urban black world hadn't seen any attention in the classic noir days (post-War) I had to watch it.
But this is more belated than anything. It's loaded with clichés without really moving them anywhere new (and a stale cliché is really deadening). The director AND screenwriter, Carl Franklin, is relatively untestedhe's done a bunch of t.v. stuff, an African-American with talent as an a actor but a little stretched here, I think. The star does his best to hold it together, none other than Denzel Washington, but in fact even he is following old patterns a bit listlessly. This is really clear when a truly brilliant actor arrives on the sceneDon Cheadleand in his moments there is finally a rising up and synthesis of intentions.
The plot is almost a givena detective on the outs faces a terrible crime, and a mysterious woman (call her a femme fatale if you want, but she's too plastic to work for me). He is hounded by a white man (or two) with truly dubious or evil intentions that he can't quite decipher. Until it really gets out of his control.
The book is here is by the much lauded author Walter Mosley, and I only discovered this today (I saw them movie innocently). And I've read one or two things by Mosley and actually found the same problem as the movie: lots of tropes and worn out problems approached in the same old way. Except with black characters.
Now this may be naive, but I think in fact the world of urban Blacks and their crime worlds in mid-Century America is really really ripe for some serious fictional writing. Something without myth making. There must be a black Bogart or Mitchum type out there for those inclined. There's another problem, though, looking back and wishing we had better movies about certain things than we did. Maybe that's just the way it was, and we need new movies about new things, not re-hashed themes that only half make up for what might have been. Or not. We weren't there, and we never can be.
So all good intentions aside, give this movie a skeptical look. It's well enough made and has some tightly made moments, but as a whole it flounders and lacks one of the basicsoriginality.
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