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Ken Russell the films
America: Crimes of Passion


Crimes of Passion

Ken Russell's Crimes of Passion from 1984, a flawed film about sexuality.  The theme is tackled with typical Russell restraint regarding sex between two adults, but the film is flawed by the boring dialogue between the "normal" couple.

Ken Russell Crimes of Passion

Kathleen Turner plays China Blue, a high class prostitute who turns out to be an intellectual and who is doing it because... etc. Even Barbra Streisand has played a similar role.  Despite the cliché role- the film was meant to break the cliché- she plays well.  Antony Perkins plays an oversexed priest, too similar to Robert Mitchum in Night of the Hunter to be truly convincing. Sexuality is a theme in the film, everyone is either sexually repressed or over-active or both. Marriages are a sham and there are no true relationships.

Ken Russell Crimes of Passion


Ken Russell Crimes of Passion  Ken Russell Crimes of Passion

The saint (with a street light halo) and the sinner (with a night club heart).

Ken Russell Crimes of Passion   Ken Russell Crimes of Passion

The priest has sexual fantasies linked to murder.  The killing of the dancing girl is actually in his imagination as a sex doll is ripped apart.

Ken Russell Crimes of Passion

The couple in the story have a marriage where they cannot even talk to each other face-to-face.

Despite its many faults, like many of Russell's lesser films, it grows on you with some subtle scenes emerging and some of the more over-the-top scenes becoming enjoyable by their excess.  The two main actors give very good performances.



Crimes of Passion

Kathleen Turner accepted the role and later may have regretted it. She won the part in Romancing the Stone and was about to emerge as a major female lead, and she did not want her clean image tarnished by Russell's imagery.

Crimes of Passion

Antony Perkins plays his typecast Psycho role- women's clothes, long knives- which pity as he a good actor, for example (as well as the excellent Psycho) The Trial by Welles, and Catch-22.  Given the restraints he is good.

Molly and Victoria Russell appear in the video within the film. Rick Wakeman does the music (as in Lisztomania) also appears in a tiny cameo role as the honeymoon photographer. The music with its repetitive China Blue theme is effective. Pamela Anderson has a minor role.

Dick Bush does cinematography and Brian Tagg the editing.


Best Image

Ken Russell Crimes of Passion

The bird in the small coffin.


Best Scene

The preacher seeing China Blue for the first time, walking in a crowd dressed in blacks and greys while she is dressed in bright blue.



In one sex scene Turner dresses as a nun.  Sexuality (repressed and promiscuous).  Phallic symbols.
There is a film within a film.  There is a video within the film.
The elements: there is a Pre-Raphaelite painting of a drowned women, and in a dream sequence the couple dive into a pool.




Other films released in the same year include The Killing Fields, A Passage to India and Starman.


More films

Click title for film French Dressing * Billion Dollar Brain * Women in Love * The Music Lovers* The Devils * The Boy Friend * Savage Messiah * Mahler * Tommy * Lisztomania * Valentino * Altered States * Crimes of Passion * Gothic * Aria * The Lair of the White Worm * Salome's Last Dance * The Rainbow * Whore * Mindbender * Trapped Ashes/ The Girl with the Golden Breasts


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