The Gentleness & Vulgarity of ‘Crimes of Passion’

Kathleen-Turner-Crimes-of-Passion

I only got round to seeing Crimes of Passion… yesterday. Yes, yesterday. My excuse – I was minus two when the film was released. Crimes of Passion moves between a seemingly confident prostitute and Bobby, a generic man whose marriage is failing. In order to make some more money to keep Amy (the wife) happy, Bobby takes on some extra night work conducting surveillance on a woman – Joanna Crane (Kathleen Turner) – at the behest of Joanna’s employer. Cult Reviews

“Yikes!” – Kathleen Turner’s response to the mention of Ken Russell. I can’t imagine he was an easy man to work with – perhaps a little like working with Dennis Potter? A man who liked everything in excess.

In fact, Russell’s excessive style is strikingly similar to that of classic Hollywood melodrama, a connection that, despite its importance for understanding this filmmaker’s work, seems strangely unexplored. – from Ken Russell: Re-Viewing England’s Last Manneristedited by Kevin M. Flanagan

“I truly believe that he is a genius. But he was a genius that had to shoot himself in the foot. He wanted to be a hugely successful Hollywood director. But he also wanted to prove that he wasn’t Hollywood, so that meant doing a few awful things to his work… It was complicated making that film.” – Turner

Crimes of Passion (1984) was directed by Ken Russell and written by Barry Sandler. Turner reportedly slept for a whole day once the filming had finished. I got on the first plane home. My fiancee picked me up at the airport and 22 hours later he woke me up and said, “If you don’t wake up I’m taking you to the hospital.” – Kathleen Turner, who played the torn, powerful and pitiful lead role of China Blue/Joanna brilliantly. I was slightly distracted during the second half of the film once I realised that Turner voiced Jessica Rabbit.

Rabbit-wives aside, I really enjoyed this film and I can only imagine how I would have received it as an adult in the eighties. It’s more sophisticated than The Lair of the White Worm, on a par with Gothic and, although more mainstream, I found it easier to watch than the wonderfully surreal Altered States.

Crimes of Passion Clip from 1984 – China Blue (Kathleen Turner) with a customer.

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