Devil in a Blue Dress (Elmer Bernstein)

Directed by Carl Franklin, "Devil in a Blue Dress" released in 1995. The film starred Denzel Washington at the peak of his powers, playing "Easy" Rawling, the lead character in a series of mystery novels by author Walter Mosley. The story follows a young WII vet trying to find work in Los Angeles, who gets roped into searching a search for a missing woman, while fighting to stay safe from the city's racist cops and criminal underbelly in the process. The film was not a box office success, killing the prospect of an ongoing series of films, despite strong critical reviews. The film's reputation seems to have grown over time, with a recent Criterion Collection video release, bringing new attention to this solid neo-noir. 

Aiding in this, was composer Elmer Bernstein. Having scored almost every genre of film imaginable, Bernstein delivers here a classic noir score, drenched with mood and class, with jazzy piano and noir trumpets that paint the picture of a seductive, yet oppressive L.A. summer heat. Grounded by a fantastic main theme that gives our embattled protagonist a noble accompaniment, creating one of the best modern noir scores of the modern age.

The Columbia Records soundtrack album featured a number of period songs, but only three tracks of Bernstein's original score. A promotional disc of the full score circulated at the time of the film's release, and a later DVD featured the isolated score as a bonus, but the full score has never been properly released on disc. The existing promo cover is pretty rough, so it was a fun little project to create some nicer covers for this hidden gem of a score.

Covers 1-3 all use official marketing artwork. Cover 1 uses promotional photography of Denzel create a simple, but effective mood of mystery. Cover 2 uses the main theatrical poster, while Cover 3 features a more modern look for a later home video release. The artwork itself didn't require extensive editing, the trickiest part was figuring out the text styling, as the film's title logo has such a distinctive look and shape design, it was a challenge to echo that, without having it look too over-powering.

Cover 4 uses original artwork by James Ransome for the 2022 Criterion Collection release. I couldn't find a textless version of the art, so I had to manually paint out all the text, and then edited the size and position of the background city to fit a bit better in a wider composition, and be able to apply new text.

Hope you enjoy, and let me know your favorites!

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