month, I wrote an appreciation piece for Carl Franklin’s 1995 film adaption of
Walter Mosley’s “Devil in Blue Dress” which I still believe is a much under-appreciated
As I said, it is truly a superior film that fires on all cylinders –
acting, direction, script, cinematography, editing art direction… but is also true to its film noirish roots, giving us a
complex, shadowy mystery story full of twists and turns with dubious characters
who lie to hide their true agendas.
But, as I also said, the film is not simply a Humphrey Bogart film in blackface. It very
accurately chronicles what like was like for black folks in this country during
the 1940’s. Racism and segregation weren’t just a Southern thing. It was
everywhere, from the Midwest to the East, to the so-called more liberal “Left
Coast” of Southern California. Black people faced insults, oppression and
degradation every day and yet persevered and endured. It wasn’t easy for sure.
Yet, somehow, when people talk about their favorite black films, “Devil” is rarely (if ever) on anyone’s list. It seems to have been overlooked.
Though I’m sure there are those who still remember it fondly. It’s a shame that
it didn’t do well at the box office since there are so many other wonderful Easy
Rawlins novels that would make great films.
The film has
been on the top of my “Wish List” of films I’ve been waiting to come out on
blu-ray. It’s a beautiful looking film, but in blu-ray it would be even sharper,
more detailed. However, since all the great film noirs were always in black and
white, and, for commercial reasons, “Devil” had to be shot in color, they did
the next best thing – photographing the film with a unique desaturated color palette.
In effect, they shot color film as if it was black and white.
finally, I can cross the film off my “Wish List” since the fantastic specialty DVD
label, Twilight Time, has announced that they will be releasing “Devil” on blu-ray on October 13th. And, no doubt, the new blu-ray will carry over
Carl Frankin’s fascinating commentary about the making of the film from the old
standard Sony DVD release of the film.
However, there is a catch of sorts. Being a specialty label, and knowing that most of their
titles could have limited appeal, Twilight Time only produces a limited
amount of 3000 copies of any title; unless the title quickly sells out, such as
their blu-ray of John Carpenter’s horror film “Christine,” which actually sold out
in advance, before it was even officially released. As a result they later
had to issue 3000 more copies.
means is that, if you love “Devil in a Blue Dress” like I do, and want the blu-ray version of it when it comes out this fall, be sure to get your order in early. If you
wait, you might be out of luck.