Crimes of Passion (1984 film)  

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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.
Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.

Crimes of Passion is a film released in 1984 and directed by Ken Russell. It starred Kathleen Turner, Anthony Perkins Annie Potts and John Laughlin. The film explores themes of sexuality, failed relationships, and mental illness. The film's tagline is: "Her name is China Blue. She is watched. She is worshipped. And she must remain a mystery."


Bobby Grady (Laughlin) is an ordinary middle-class electronics store owner who occasionally moonlights doing surveillance work. He attends a group therapy session because his wife, Annie (Potts), has lost interest in sex and he fears their marriage is in trouble.

Grady is soon approached by the owner of a fashion design house to spy on an employee, Joanna Crane (Turner), whom he suspects of selling clothing patterns to his competitors. Grady discovers the fears of Crane's boss are unfounded, but Crane is moonlighting as a street prostitute using the name China Blue and wearing a wig and provocative clothing as a disguise.

Grady tells the designer there is nothing to his suspicions, but keeps quiet about Crane's double life. After having an erotic encounter with Crane in her China Blue persona, Grady decides to start seeing her professionally, and later, romantically. However, their involvement is complicated by his guilt and her intimacy issues — not to mention her clientele of regular patrons and their bizarre sexual fetishes. Among them is the "Reverend" Peter Shayne (Perkins), who alternately spends his time delivering soapbox sermons on the street, visiting peep shows while sniffing amyl nitrite, and patronizing prostitutes. Shayne has begun seeing China Blue often and declares a misguided need to "save" her. (When he says, "Save your soul, whore!", she replies, "Save your money, shithead.") Underscoring Shayne's contradictory nature is the cache of sex toys he carries in a small doctor's bag with his Bible.

Grady and Joanna's sexual encounters soon develop into genuine romantic feelings for each other. When Grady admits he may leave his wife and children, Joanna feels put-upon and depressed. She seeks solace in turning tricks because the encounters are not fraught with emotional entanglements. She dominates a young policeman in an S&M session, penetrating him with his nightstick, and endures a botched three-way in a limousine. A session with an older, dying man whose wife wants China Blue to give him sexual gratification one last time inspires Joanna to reveal her real (first) name to the couple, suggesting she is the proverbial "hooker with a heart of gold".

Shayne grows increasingly psychotic: he carries a sharpened metallic vibrator he nicknames "Superman" and starts stalking Joanna. He moves into a seedy motel next door to her nighttime place of business and watches her activities through a peephole. He also sets up a shrine with candles and numerous photos of her. Sensing that he is mentally unhinged, Joanna says she no longer wishes to see him, but Shayne follows her home to her actual apartment. Once there, he begs her to kill him.

Grady decides to visit Joanna to tell her that he has left home. He hears shouting when he arrives at her apartment, so he breaks down her door to find who he thinks is Joanna cowering in terror. He approaches the person, not realizing it is actually Shayne in Joanna's China Blue disguise. Joanna, wearing Shayne's clothing, leaps from the shadows and stabs Shayne with the "Superman" vibrator before he can attack Grady with a large pair of scissors. Shayne dies, convinced that his sacrifice has "saved" them both.

The film ends with Grady addressing his group therapist about his new relationship with a woman named Joanna.


Rock musician Rick Wakeman performed the synthesizer-heavy score, the majority of which is made up of melodies directly lifted from Czech composer Antonin Dvořák's "New World Symphony".

Wakeman has an uncredited role in the film as a wedding photographer.

See also

Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Crimes of Passion (1984 film)" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on original research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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