The Denzel Washington R-Rated Crime Thriller Classic On Netflix Everyone Needs To See, One Of His Top Five Greatest Movies

By Brian Myers | Published

Hollywood legend Denzel Washington has notched a great number of memorable films in his four decades as an actor. From his Oscar-winning performances in Glory (1989) and Training Day (2002) to his critically acclaimed roles in Fences (2016) and The Tragedy of MacBeth (2021), there’s arguably never been a more versatile star in the last two generations. But a largely passed over film from Washington’s early days, Devil in a Blue Dress, is getting new life on Netflix.

Devil in a Blue Dress

Devil in a Blue Dress follows WWII veteran Easy Rollins (Denzel Washington), a recently unemployed Los Angeles resident who is looking for some fast cash.

He’s hired to find the missing lover of one of the city’s mayoral candidates, following leads that take him to some of the city’s seediest locations.

Along the way, Rollins discovers the missing woman’s connections to organized crime, prompting him to reconnect with a dangerous person from his pre-war days.

A Slow Build

The film slowly builds into a terrific entry in the neo-noir genre in which Rollins becomes caught in a murder plot and a political scandal.

Devil in a Blue Dress successfully combines the ominous setting and complicated plotlines integral to a noir film while bringing in known performers like Denzel Washington for experienced touches.

Mixed Reception

Denzel Washington

Denzel Washington might have received praise at the time from critics, but the overall reception was a mixed bag.

Those who evaluated Devil in a Blue Dress seemed to all be in agreement with the story’s tone and visual appeal but panned several of Washington’s co-stars.

The film wasn’t the box office success that TriStar Pictures was hoping for, as it only brought in $22 million in global box office receipts against a $27 million production budget.

For Noir And Nep-Noir Fans

Denzel Washington

Devil in a Blue Dress has received a lot more love in the 30 years since its theatrical release. The Denzel Washington film has a solid 92% score across 118 critics on Rotten Tomatoes, along with 88/100 on Metacritic.

Fans of noir and neo-noir have managed to find the film after its release on VHS (and later DVD) in the late 1990s, the physical media helping to build a solid fan base.

Fantastic Score

Denzel Washington

While Denzel Washington’s performance in Devil in a Blue Dress shouldn’t be overlooked, one aspect of the film that comes close to overshadowing any of the players on the screen is the music.

The eerie score by Elmer Bernstein perfects the tone, while the film’s soundtrack itself is one of the best from the decade. Featuring some of the greats from blues and jazz, the songs from the era from which the film was set brought to life moods set by the late and great Thelonious Monk, Duke Ellington, and Bull Moose Jackson.

Stream Devil in a Blue Dress On Netflix

Denzel Washington

Alongside Denzel Washington, Devil in a Blue Dress co-stars Tom Sizemore, Jennifer Beals, Maury Chaykin, and Don Cheadle.

The film was a vehicle for actor Carl Franklin to boost his career as a director. Franklin had previously been at the helm of the films Nowhere to Run and One False Move. Franklin is also credited with developing the screenplay from the 1990 Walter Mosely novel of the same name.

Devil in a Blue Dress was the brainchild of director Franklin, who had read and loved Mosely’s novel. The author loved the script that Franklin penned and agreed to serve as an associate producer of the film.

Denzel Washington can be seen in the neo-noir classic Devil in a Blue Dress streaming on Netflix.