Tuesday’s Overlooked Film: Devil in a Blue Dress

This week’s “overlooked” film is the 1995 neo-noir Devil in a Blue Dress. The film was directed by Carl Franklin and starred Denzel Washington, Jennifer Beals and in a scene stealing performance, Don Cheadle.

The film was based on author Walter Mosley’s  series of crime novels featuring the private detective, Easy Rollins.

The plot is straightforward – Easy (Washington) is a down on his luck WWII vet who has been enlisted to search for a missing woman (Beals).  Along the way he meets several characters and as with most noirs/crime dramas, nothing is what it appears and there are several twists and turns along the way.

The performances are all solid but as I previously mentioned, every moment Don Cheadle is on screen as “Mouse” is an entertaining moment indeed.

Cinematically I was transported to a 1940’s south central Los Angeles which differed greatly from what was (at the time) part of my cinematic experience with the area  (Colors, Boyz N The Hood, and the like). Devil in a Blue Dress was a slickly styled, well paced film from a skilled director who previously directed another film that flew under the radar, 1992’s One False Move.

To this day, I am still a little disappointed that we did not get another one (or more) films out of the Easy Rollins franchise.


  1. Jack Deth says:

    Another great choice, iluv!

    Intriguing post WWII period piece where Denzel Washington handles his role masterfully aided by a laid back, unintentionally scene stealing Don Cheadle. The only character who seems out of place, at least to me, is Jennifer Beals’ Daphne. Who’s lovely to watch, yet seems to come up just short as either a damsel in distress or noir femme fatale,

    That said, ‘Devil in a Blue Dress’ is still Carl Franklin’s best work since ‘One False Move’.

    • Thanks Jack. Don Cheadle was fantastic in this film. As the weeks go on, I am having to think of some “overlooked” films. So I have come up with a pattern – new-old and so on. The key is that I do not want to repeat some of the films that I may have mentioned in other blog posts. But this is fun to bring to light some films that may have slipped some people’s initial notice.

  2. Agree. Really underrated film indeed, I love the atmosphere in it as well as the re-creation of the era.

    • @Castor I definitely think that Carl Franklin has a lot more in him than he has either chosen or what has come across his desk. When I think of this film I almost immediately think about LA Confidential. Both capture the period so well but from different perspectives.

  3. The biggest problem I have with verisimilitude is that Mouse lets himself be restrained at all. Otherwise, a fine film, from a fine novel.

  4. Ha…ha… I had to look that up myself. Always glad to learn a new word 🙂

    I should check this one out. I like the noir style and it sounds like this one is as stylish as that poster.

  5. One of my very favorite words: verismillitude. Love it!

    Love this movie poster too.

    I overlooked this film, but I’m thinking I might change my mind.
    I may have not seen it originally because I was afraid the racial attitudes of the time might make me too angry. I get unsettled by this sort of thing. Possibly because I lived through the worst of the civil rights era and saw awful things nightly on the news.

    Though I understand this series is set a few years earlier.

    The books I would love to see made into films – also by Mosley – are the ones featuring Fearless Jones. The Jones books are my faves.

    • @Yvette I wish I could say not to worry about the racial politics of the era, but everyone’s sensitivity threshold is different. I for one did not have an issue with them here. If you saw LA Confidential and enjoyed it you should be fine.

  6. Smashing film. Even Washington-a dull actor usually- is good. I loved On False Move, too. And then?

    • @Paul … you are spot on about Carl Franklin. I even looked him up to see if I missed anything in his filmography. It looks like he moved over to television. Which is a shame; I thought he had the makings of a very interesting career.

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