Devil in a Blue Dress

Year: 1995
Studio: Tristar Pictures
Director: Carl Franklin
Writer: Carl Franklin
Cast: Denzel Washington, Tom Sizemore, Jennifer Beals

This was someone's idea of a hard bitten noir thriller, and it does pretty well inasmuch as I know the noir genre. Washington is Easy Rawlins, living a life few other black men can dream of in the late 40s when institutionalised prejudice keeps them poor and marginalised. He's paying off his house and keeping his nose clean, which makes losing his job even more hurtful.

When an enigmatic stranger (Sizemore) comes offering an easy couple of hundred just to find a mysterious woman, Easy goes against all his instincts about the man and agrees, figuring he can pocket the money and forget the whole thing.

But if Easy had ever watched a noir film he'd know the woman would not only be a beautiful dame but be at the sordid centre of a huge conspiracy of lust, murder and people who'll stop at nothing to keep it all secret. Easy's mysterious employer turns out to be the murderous psycho he feared, and before he knows it he's up to his neck in trouble with the cops and crims and even when he has a way out he knows he can't leave the winsome Daphne (Beals) at their mercy.

It has all the hallmarks of the genre from the high stakes plot to the talk to the sun-burnished colours of postwar LA and while it's certainly not Washington's best work it's an entertaining distraction.

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