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Devil in a Blue Dress (1995)



Average Rating: 7.3/10
Reviews Counted: 52
Fresh: 45 | Rotten: 7

Humor, interesting characters, and attention to details make the stylish Devil in a Blue Dress an above average noir.


Average Rating: 6.8/10
Critic Reviews: 15
Fresh: 11 | Rotten: 4

Humor, interesting characters, and attention to details make the stylish Devil in a Blue Dress an above average noir.



liked it
Average Rating: 3.4/5
User Ratings: 10,105

My Rating

Movie Info

Denzel Washington stars in this adaptation of the novel by African-American crime author Walter Mosley, the first of his stories to reach the screen. Ezekiel Rawlins (Washington), known to his friends as "Easy," has just lost his job at an aircraft plant in post-WW II Los Angeles, a time when good-paying jobs for black men are hard to come by. He's wondering how to make his mortgage payment when he's approached by De Witt Albright (Tom Sizemore), who describes his job as "doing favors for


Mystery & Suspense, Drama

Walter Mosley, Carl Franklin

Mar 9, 1999


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All Critics (53) | Top Critics (16) | Fresh (45) | Rotten (7) | DVD (5)

Entering the main flow of the story relatively late, Don Cheadle steals all his scenes as a live-wire, trigger-happy old buddy of Easy's from Texas, while Sizemore and Mel Winkler, as colorful underworld figures, make strong impressions.

March 26, 2009 Full Review Source: Variety
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Sheer pleasure.

January 26, 2006 Full Review Source: Time Out
Time Out
Top Critic IconTop Critic

The role of Easy looks as tailor-made for Mr. Washington as his suit, and it shows off the full effect of this actor's movie-star dazzle.

May 20, 2003 Full Review Source: New York Times
New York Times
Top Critic IconTop Critic

A fluid, persuasive piece of movie-making graced with the considerable visual sophistication.

August 15, 2002 Full Review Source: Los Angeles Times
Los Angeles Times
Top Critic IconTop Critic

The film also does a convincing job of re-creating Los Angeles of 1948 with both specificity and poetry.

June 18, 2002 Full Review Source: San Francisco Chronicle
San Francisco Chronicle
Top Critic IconTop Critic

A bland, workaday detective flick.

April 12, 2002 Full Review Source: Globe and Mail
Globe and Mail
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Stylish neo-noir.

March 24, 2011 Full Review Source: Ozus' World Movie Reviews
Ozus' World Movie Reviews

Invoking social realism more than pulp fiction, Carl Franklin's Devil in a Blue Dress is an innovative genre film on several counts.

September 1, 2009 Full Review Source: City Pages, Minneapolis/St. Paul

In the aftermath of the Oscars, it now seems clear that Devil in a Blue Dress was one of the best films of 1995.

June 13, 2008 Full Review Source: Combustible Celluloid
Combustible Celluloid

Carl Franklin's unusually creative studio movie, boasting superlative acting from Denzel Washington and particularly newcomer Don Cheadle, reinvents a genre and a bygone era, in this case, Los Angeles circa 1948.

June 19, 2006 Full Review Source: EmanuelLevy.Com

Great, grand piece of modern noir, with a unique twist that rethinks the genre even as it honors its finest elements. Great performances all around.

August 29, 2005
Flipside Movie Emporium

A very complex and engrossing mystery, filled with wonderful period details.

January 13, 2004 Full Review Source:

...a throwback to the gumshoe tales of the thirties and forties.

December 10, 2003 Full Review Source: Movie Metropolis
Movie Metropolis

Production design and acting aside, this film is less than one wants it to be.

August 16, 2003
Nick's Flick Picks

Monstrously funny and truly scary, Cheadle is handed a scene-stealing role and never hesitates to do it justice.

July 30, 2003 Full Review Source: TV Guide's Movie Guide
TV Guide's Movie Guide

Another fine example of modern film noir.

November 18, 2002 Full Review

Smooth and stylish mystery drama.

August 30, 2002 Full Review Source: Spirituality and Practice
Spirituality and Practice

Totally slick noir throwback.

July 27, 2002

The question is not whether the movie will succeed, but whether its success will give TriStar a new film franchise.

June 5, 2002 Full Review Source: Boxoffice Magazine
Boxoffice Magazine

Audience Reviews for Devil in a Blue Dress

A lot of this movie is unintentionally funny, mostly because it is so obvious in trying to mock the whole Film Noir genre. However, it really doesn't end up doing so visually, which makes no sense really. It has a very unnecessary voice-over from Denzel Washington that really takes you out of the story rather than educate you on the characters and plot. The movie doesn't end up being really bad and for the most part it's very enjoyable, what with the bizarre performances and character choices. It does manage to get the time period down, which is the greatest strength of the movie. Jennifer Beals also plays one good Femme Fatal, but not enough to save the movie. The ending is really what sends it off into the nonsense territory, making the entire story completely worthless.
December 16, 2010

Super Reviewer

Honest working stiff Denzel Washington finds himself out of a job and desperate for money, so he accepts a job locating a young woman for a shady stranger. Devil In A Blue dress is an extremely stylish modern noir with a slightly different slant; the setting of a post war Los Angeles within the African American community gives this detective story a different flavour that marks it out from the norm. Denzel gives yet another solid performance of a tough but dignified, righteous man but the film is pretty much yanked out from under him by Don Cheadle in his breakthrough role. As Denzel's trigger happy sidekick he is both fearsome and hilarious and he effortlessly steals every scene he appears in. Although Tom Sizemore makes a good heavy, I felt we didn't see nearly enough of the corrupt politician who was behind all of these events but if you liked Chinatown or L.A. Confidential, this is well worth a look.
April 22, 2010
xGary Xx

Super Reviewer

Though well acted and beautifully crafted, "Devil in a Blue Dress" falls short of being something special because, although the concept of an African American film noir is commendably original and the background climate - of racial prejudice and the post-WWII hangover in L.A. - is fascinating, the actual mystery is pretty run-of-the-mill. The title is a bit of a misnomer because, if anything, Jennifer Beals' femme fatale is not deadly enough, and the movie also lacks a proper bad guy, a larger-than-life, charismatic kingpin: a Sidney Greenstreet or a John Huston; Maury Chaykin's creepy political candidate would have fit the bill nicely but he's only onscreen for a couple of minutes. The unseen events bookending Easy Rawlins' (Denzel Washington) transition from disaffected war veteran to private investigator - namely his former criminal escapades with a trigger-happy associate in Texas (Don Cheadle) versus his further adventures as a fully-fledged gumshoe - unfortunately sound a lot more interesting than the story we are being told, making this feel like a sequel to, or a two-hour trailer for, an even better film.
July 29, 2008

Super Reviewer

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Foreign Titles

  • Le diable en robe bleue (FR)
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