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, Daphne Monet, happens to be the fiancée of a wealthy "blue blood," Todd Carter, who is currently the favorite in the city's mayoralty race. Daphne 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 <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Easy is a World War II veteran who was laid off from his factory job which is the reason why he started to be a Private Investigator. See more »
When the police are questioning Easy at the police station, one of the cops slaps Easy's head but the slap clearly misses. 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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Everyone was peeing on my head and telling me it's raining.
Devil in a Blue Dress is written and directed by Carl Franklin, who adapts from the book written by Walter Mosley. It stars Denzel Washington, Tom Sizemore, Jennifer Beals, Don Cheadle and Maury Chaykin. Music is by Elmer Bernstein and cinematography by Tak Fujimoto.
Carl Franklin had already laid down a considerable neo-noir marker with his searing 1992 thriller One False Move, here he goes more traditional but garners equally impressive results. Plot has Washington as a WW2 veteran who has lost his job and desperately needs money to keep hold of his pride and joy - his house. Taking on a job offered by shifty DeWitt Albright (Sizemore), to find a missing woman, Rawlings quickly finds himself in up to his neck in murder and deception, he must turn ace detective to save his skin.
Set in late 1940s Los Angeles, what instantly stands out is the period detail. The clothes, the cars and the establishments frequented by Easy and company. With voice over narration also provided by Washington, in dry and sardonic tones, it's every inch a loving ode to the film noir movies released at the time the pic is set. There's plenty of neon signs about the place, some bad ass cops, good sex, brandy and sharp suits, smoking and coolness and of course a psychopath in the classic mould (Cheadle excellent).
But of course noir dressage is only that if you haven't got a good pot boiling plot, thankfully this has one. The story takes unexpected turns, always remaining interesting, the distinctive characterisations breathing heavy, managing to off set the run of the mill stereotypes in the supporting ranks. It can be argued that Beals as the titular femme fatale of the title is under written, but the character comes with an air of mystery that serves Franklin's atmosphere very well. Tech credits are high, something of a given with Bernstein and Fujimoto on the list, while Washington turns in another classy show of subtlety and believability.
Lovers of film noir should get much rewards from Devil in a Blue Dress. 7.5/10
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