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William Franco
William Franco

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As a neonoir, (3) Franklin's film develops out of this L.A. film noir history in its use of, among other film noir conventions, L.A. as a setting in which investigational narratives occur. Focusing on crime, corruption, and strained social bonds, Devil in a Blue Dress depicts a portion of L.A. culture that, because it lacks moral light, is considered, metaphorically, to be "dark." The film interrogates the very darkness that is central to this metaphor as, simultaneously, it explores the racialized equation of criminality and darkness-blackness through a plot that concentrates on questions that pertain to racialized social relations. This aspect of Devil in a Blue Dress informs B. Ruby Rich's consideration of the film, in which she rightly identifies it as a "film noir with a difference": a neonoir that focuses on "'outsider' identit[ies]--African-Americans, non-fatal femmes, gays and lesbians." (4)




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