Blu-Ray Review: Devil in a Blue Dress

Since the late 1980s, Denzel Washington has proven time and time again that he’s one of the best American actors working in cinema today. In 1987, he received his first Academy Award nomination for Cry Freedom, following it up a couple of years later with a win for Glory. He has subsequently gone on to pick up another Oscar (Training Day) and been in the running for five more. In 1995, he starred in Carl Franklin’s Devil in a Blue Dress.

After being laid off from his job, ‘Easy’ Rawlins (Washington) is desperate for any kind of work in order to pay his mortgage. That’s where the mysterious DeWitt Albright (Tom Sizemore) comes in. He’s looking to track down Daphne Monet (Jennifer Beals), the wealthy fiancée of a mayoral candidate. (Terry Kinney). When a woman is murdered, he finds himself at the centre of a tangled web, with just his friend ‘Mouse’ (Don Cheadle) to help him.

Devil in a Blue Dress is a stylish neo-noir which delves into the socio-economic and political landscape of the era. The period detail is impressive, as is Washington’s performance which lends Easy both gravitas and vulnerability. However, it’s Don Cheadle who steals every scene as the erratic and unpredictable Mouse. Whilst it might be a tad convoluted at times, Devil in a Blue Dress is an entertaining hard-boiled detective drama.

Special features:

  • 2K restoration
  • Original 5.1 surround sound and stereo audio tracks
  • Audio commentary with writer and director Carl Franklin (1999)
  • Dancing with the Devil (2018, 23 mins): archival interview with Franklin, conducted by the Film Noir Foundation’s Eddie Muller at a screening of Devil in a Blue Dress
  • Don Cheadle Screen Test (1994, 15 mins): videotape footage of the actor auditioning for the role of Mouse, with introduction by Franklin
  • Original theatrical trailer
  • Image gallery: promotional and publicity materials
  • New and improved English subtitles for the deaf and hard-of-hearing
  • Limited edition exclusive 36-page booklet with a new essay by Keith M Harris, an archival interview with Carl Franklin from Positif magazine, an extract from Walter Mosley’s novel, an overview of contemporary critical responses, and film credits
  • UK premiere on Blu-ray
  • Limited edition of 3,000 copies
  • All extras subject to change

Devil in a Blue Dress is released on Blu-ray by Powerhouse Films as part of their Indicator series on 14 December.

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