This week Michael and Nakea are revisiting an under-seen, under-appreciated film noir, Carl Franklin's Devil in a Blue Dress (1995), which celebrates its 25th anniversary this month.
The world of 1940s Los Angeles is a familiar one from countless private-eye movies, but Devil in a Blue Dress—based on the first of Walter Mosley's best-selling detective novels about Ezekiel "Easy" Rawlins—made both the story and the setting fresh by centering a Black protagonist, and lovingly recreating neighborhoods of L.A. long overlooked by Hollywood. Featuring a strong lead performance by Denzel Washington, and a scene-stealing turn from Don Cheadle, Devil in a Blue Dress should have been the start of a long-running franchise. Instead, the movie sadly underperformed at the box office, and remains a solitary, overlooked gem of '90s neo-noir.
Can The Unenthusiastic Critic—our resident femme fatale—get to the bottom of this mystery?
0:00: Prologue: Walter Mosley on Easy Rawlins
00:38: Cultural Osmosis: Pre-Viewing Discussion
12:12: Original Trailer for Devil in a Blue Dress
14:04: The Verdict: Post-Viewing Trailer
50:09: Outro and Next Week's Movie
Notes and Links
—Movie Reviewed: Devil in a Blue Dress (dir. Carl Franklin, TriStar, 1995)
—Prologue from "Walter Mosley On The Stories Of LA Told Through Easy Rawlins," Interview with Karen Grigsby Bates, NPR.
—Links and Sources: "AFI Movie Club: Issa Rae Recommends 'Devil in a Blue Dress,'" AFI; "Black and Blue in LA," David Ansen, Newsweek; Review by Roger Ebert, rogerebert.com; "The Genre Don't Know Where It Came From: African American Neo-Noir Since the 1960s," William Covey, Journal of Film and Video, Vol. 55, No. 2/3.
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