Plot: What’s it about?
Joanna Crane (Kathleen Turner) leads a normal life in most respects, as she has a good job, takes good care of herself, and lives in a comfortable style. She might spend a little more time with her work than some people do, but she loves fashion and since that’s her profession, she is known to log in plenty of overtime. But there is another side to Crane, one that is far removed from this proper, normal lifestyle she leads. This other side has a name and when Joanna becomes China Blue, her life is not even close to recognizable. At night, she dresses up as China Blue and works the streets as a prostitute, which no one knows. She protects her secret life on the streets and lets no one become the wiser, as it could endanger her in some ways. One of her clients is a man named Bobby (John Laughlin), who is married, but doesn’t love his wife and soon enough, decides he wants China for himself. So he does some research and learns the truth about Joanna, but even then, she wards off his advances. Although she is attracted to him, can she push him away and maintain her lifestyle, or will emotion finally overcome her?
The realm of adult thrillers is overrun with second rate softcore cinema, but Crimes of Passion is one of genre’s true highlights. This Ken Russell (Altered States) directed picture has a good storyline, intense visuals, and great performances, as well as some moments of sheer shock. As expected from an adult thriller, this movie has scenes of graphic sexual content and nudity, but don’t expect a porno here. The sex is used as part of the storyline, which is excellent at times, especially in terms of character development. So if you’re not too prudish and like movies that push boundaries, give this one a spin, it’s well worth it. Crimes of Passion was released by Anchor Bay a while back, but that disc was lackluster, to say the least. As they sometimes do, the studio chose to revisit an older disc and make some upgrades, which is fantastic news. This new edition from Anchor Bay features the uncut version of the film, a new anamorphic transfer, and some very cool extras, but is still priced at under twenty bucks. This is a great movie given a great treatment at an excellent price, so of course, Crimes of Passion is highly recommended.
This is considered by many to be one of Kathleen Turner’s finest performances and on the whole, I’d have to agree with that sentiment. I mean, this kind of role has to be hard for most mainstream workers, given the amount of sexual content and in addition, just the overall darkness around the character involved. But even so, Turner excels as China Blue and enhances the film in the process, I simply cannot imagine anyone in this role. That is a strong compliment and I think Turner deserves it, as he makes the character hers and commands the screen at all times. The material is dark and often twisted, but she seems natural within it, which is vital in order for her character to be believable. Other films with Turner include Serial Mom, The Virgin Suicides, The War of the Roses, Prizzi’s Honor, and The Real Blonde. The cast also includes John Laughlin (The Rock, Motorama), Annie Potts (Ghostbusters, Who’s Harry Crumb?), and Anthony Perkins (Psycho, Murder on the Orient Express).
Video: How does it look?
Crimes of Passion is presented in a 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen transfer. This is a vast improvement over prior releases, as the image is cleaner, sharper, and just looks eons better than ever before, at least on home video. The print has no flaws to speak of, which means detail is enhanced and the image has much more depth, since the thick grain seen in previous transfers is absent. The colors are more vivid here also, never faded in the least and as far as flesh tones, they’re natural throughout. No problem with contrast either, as black levels are accurate and often flawless, which makes a lot of difference here. It seems like Anchor Bay has put a lot of effort into this transfer and it shows, as the image is improved in all respects and surpassed all of my expectations.
Audio: How does it sound?
The included mono track is by no means remarkable, but it is solid and covers the material, so no real complaints here. The elements have little to no signs of age or wear, so the audio is never harsh or shrill, even for a second. The separation is clean and allows the elements to come through well, but this is mono, so don’t expect too much. The music is rich and never becomes too overpowering, while sound effects remain restrained on the whole, as intended. No issues as far as dialogue, as vocals are clean and crisp at all times here. Not too memorable of a mix, but it covers the bases and that is what counts, of course.
Supplements: What are the extras?
An audio commentary with director Ken Russell and producer Barry Sandler is included here and is quite informative, much better than I had expected. The two cover the film from conception to execution, but don’t remain overly general, they also touch upon a lot of details. So we learn a lot of overview material about how Crimes of Passion was created, but also get to hear thoughts on the cast, the writing process, and other topics. This disc also includes a selection of deleted scenes (with optional comments from Sandler), as well as the film’s theatrical trailer.