Blu-ray Review: Devil in a Blue Dress - Twilight Time Limited Edition

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Devil in a Blue Dress is a 1995 adaptation of Walter Mosley's crime novel of the same name. Carl Franklin wrote and directed the film, which followed up his major critical hit One False Move (1992). Even though Devil wound up largely duplicating that critics' favorite status, and added the star power of Denzel Washington, it didn't find a wide audience. Boutique label Twilight Time has issued the film as a limited edition (3,000 units pressed) Blu-ray release. It's easily worthwhile for film noir fans and/or Washington fans.

Set in 1948, the story follows WWII vet Ezekiel "Easy" Rawlins (Washington). Easy has been laid off from his factory job (a victim of that era's openly racist workplaces), so he resorts to accepting some shady work from DeWitt Albright (Tom Sizemore). He's a true rarity for the era: an African-American who owns his own home. Overdue on his mortgage payments, he willing to take a chance in helping Albright locate Daphne Monet (Jennifer Beals). That's all he's supposed to do, and he'll be sufficiently compensated for his efforts. But, of course, nothing is as it seems the deeper Easy gets into finding out why so many people are searching for her.

Devil in a Blue Dress cover (216x280).jpgDirector Franklin crafted a stylish neo-noir mystery that manages to feel relatively compelling despite coming off as a bit inconsequential by the time the credits roll. The story behind Daphne, not to mention the related murder of Daphne's friend Coretta (Lisa Nicole Carson), is a pulpy bit of sordidness that hardly seems worth the lavish period treatment the filmmakers give it. But Washington, Sizemore, Beals, and especially Don Cheadle (in a profile-boosting supporting role as Easy's loose cannon friend Mouse) manage to make it feel weightier than it really is.

Twilight Time's Blu-ray offers a solid transfer of Tak Fujimoto's cinematography. The source elements were obviously in good shape for this 1080p transfer, which is quite clean. The audio is offered in both DTS-HD MA 5.1 surround and 2.0 stereo, both lossless tracks. I opted for the 5.1 and found it a great, enveloping listening experience with Elmer Bernstein's score and the blues and jazz tunes packing an ideal punch.

Of the collected features, the highlight is writer-director Carl Franklin's audio commentary. There's also Don Cheadle's screen test. And Bernstein's score is available as an isolated track, a hallmark of Twilight Time's Limited Edition Series.

Visit Twilight Time's official website for ordering information while supplies last.
Devil in a Blue Dress booklet (299x380).jpg

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Chaz Lipp writes for The Morton Report.

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