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Ken Russell
Kathleen Turner, Anthony Perkins, Bruce Davison, John Laughlin, Annie Potts
Writing Credits:
Barry Sandler

A sportswear designer leads a double life as a hooker named China Blue. One of her clients, a divorced man, decides he loves her and figures out who she is.

Rated NR.

Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
English DTS-HD MA Monaural
Supplements Subtitles:

Runtime: 107 min. (Unrated Cut)
113 min. (Director’s Cut)
Price: $39.95
Release Date: 7/19/2016

• Audio Commentary with Director Ken Russell and Writer Barry Sandler
• Both Unrated and Director’s Cuts
• “Life of Crime” Featurette
• “Composing for Ken” Featurette
• Deleted Scenes
• Music Video
• Trailer


Panasonic TC-P60VT60 60-Inch 1080p 600Hz 3D Smart Plasma HDTV; Sony STR-DG1200 7.1 Channel Receiver; Panasonic DMP-BD60K Blu-Ray Player using HDMI outputs; Michael Green Revolution Cinema 6i Speakers (all five); Kenwood 1050SW 150-watt Subwoofer.


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Crimes of Passion [Blu-Ray] (1984)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (July 13, 2016)

After hits like Body Heat and Romancing the Stone made her a mainstream star, actor Kathleen Turner opted for something edgier via 1984’s Crimes of Passion. This film paired her with iconoclastic director Ken Russell, himself not far from his biggest US success with 1981’s Altered States.

Bobby Grady (John Laughlin) finds himself stuck in a loveless/sexless marriage to nagging wife Amy (Annie Potts). Because she complains about all the suburban creature comforts he can’t provide. Bobby takes on a second job in the field of “video surveillance”.

As his initial assignment, sportswear designer Lou Bateman (Norman Burton) believes his employee Joanna Crane (Turner) steals clothing patterns and sells them to the competition. As Bobby follows Joanna, he discovers that she leads a double life – Joanna spends her evenings as a prostitute called “China Blue”. This leads him on an erotic journey from Milan to Minsk.

No – that was Rochelle Rochelle. Crimes instead sticks us with tawdry interactions between Bobby and Joanna/China, with some obsessiveness from a misguided/conflicted moral crusader named “Reverend” Peter Shayne (Anthony Perkins).

All of this implies that Crimes tells an actual story, but if the movie boasts a plot, I can’t find it. Instead, it mixes raunchy sex scenes with sequences that attempt… social commentary? satire? Your guess is as good as mine.

To call Crimes a mess would be an understatement, as the film provides an awkward, campy melange that never goes anywhere. The evidence on screen leads me to believe that the movie intends to mock both suburban and moralistic US society as well as films about suburbia and moralistic US society. Crimes depicts everything in such a broad, over the top manner that I find it impossible to imagine we’re meant to interpret any of this with a straight face.

Take Turner’s performance, for instance. Manic to the point of rabidity, she comes across like a “screwball comedy” actor on speed. She spits out lines with insane energy and never attempts to make Joanna/China a real person. Perkins also hams it up good as the self-loathing pervert Shayne.

On the other side of the coin, we find Laughlin and Potts, both of whom seem more wooden than Pinocchio. Both offer no emotion or personality – they occasionally emote loudly but they can’t read the lines in a naturalistic manner.

Add to that a goofy synth score and outrageous visuals and Crimes must be a spoof/put-on, right? Maybe – or maybe not.

In this disc’s extras, we hear a little from Russell, but he doesn’t reveal much about his intentions for the movie. I suspect Russell decided to have campy fun with the material, but he doesn’t tell us how seriously he wanted us to take the story.

On the other hand, we hear a lot from writer Barry Sandler, and he leaves the complete impression that he intends Crimes to give us a drama – a dark, meaningful one at that. More power to ya, Barry, but you wrote a terrible script that can’t be seen as anything other than self-parody.

Sandler’s attempts at social commentary flop, and the movie’s characters feel flat and trite. The lines tend to sound absurd – can anyone read “if you think you’re going to get back in my panties, forget it – there’s one asshole in there already” with a semblance of a straight face?

Too drab to be campy fun and too stupid to be an involving drama, Crimes of Passion stinks. It wastes some good talent on a tawdry, idiotic affair.

The Blu-ray Grades: Picture B-/ Audio C/ Bonus B-

Crimes of Passion appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 1.85:1 on this Blu-Ray Disc. Though erratic, the image usually looked pretty good.

Definition was generally positive. Occasional soft shots materialized, and I couldn’t call the movie razor-sharp, but the majority showed good clarity. No issues with shimmering or jaggies materialized, and I saw no edge haloes.

Print flaws remained pretty minor. A handful of specks popped up, and one scene suffered from a mix of small spots, but those issues weren’t pervasive. Instead, the movie usually looked clean.

Colors appeared largely appealing. The movie tended toward dominant hues like reds and purples, and it brought those out fairly well – they weren’t tremendously vivid, but they held up fine. Blacks were reasonably dark, while low-light shots demonstrated appropriate clarity. Given the movie’s age, I felt this was a “B-“ image.

Don’t expect much from the wholly ordinary DTS-HD MA monaural soundtrack of Crimes. Everything about the mix felt dated and lackluster.

Speech remained intelligible, but the lines boasted little life. It didn’t help that we got more than a few poorly-looped elements, but even the “natural” bits still seemed flat and occasionally edgy.

Music showed little range. The score seemed somewhat “rinky-dink” and didn’t present much pep. Effects also came across as mediocre at best. This became a consistently ordinary mix – even for its age, this audio seemed mediocre.

The Blu-ray includes two versions of Crimes. We get an Unrated Cut (1:46:46) as well as a Director’s Cut (1:52:35).

According to the disc’s menu, the “Unrated Cut” is actually the original version director Ken Russell meant to put out theatrically in 1984 but various ratings boards forced edits. The “Director’s Cut” was created for a laserdisc, which means the presentation here uses standard-def shots sometimes because presumably the original footage is lost.

I never saw Crimes until now and I opted for the Director’s Cut. Because this became my initial screening, I can’t comment on the specific changes. Nonetheless, I wanted to mention the presence of the two editions.

Alongside the Director’s Cut, we find an audio commentary from director Ken Russell and screenwriter Barry Sandler. Both sit together for this running, screen-specific look at story/characters/themes, cast and performances, sets and production design, visual choices, music, cinematography, ratings issues and editing.

Russell departs midway through the film, and that means each half offers a different experience. With Russell and Sandler together, we get a decent look at the production. Nothing scintillating appears, but the pair cover the movie in a reasonable manner – though the track drags at times, it works acceptably well.

Once Russell leaves, though, the commentary becomes less stimulating. Sandler mostly discusses story, and he tends to narrate the events. Though occasional nuggets emerge, the second half mainly sputters.

Two featurettes follow. Life of Crime runs 22 minutes, seven seconds and provides an interview with Sandler. He discusses his entrance into movies and his early career as well as other aspects of his career and Crimes. Sandler tells a mix of good stories and makes this an enjoyable chat – much better than his commentary, in fact.

With the 28-minute, 54-second Composing for Ken, we hear from composer Rick Wakeman. He chats about his work in films, his experiences with Ken Russell, and Crimes. Like Sandler, Wakeman brings us a lively, informative interview.

Seven Deleted Scenes fill a total of 19 minutes, 55 seconds. We find a long extension of the Bobby/Amy cookout scene as well as a mix of other character bits. None of them seem especially interesting, and some – such as the cookout bit – become embarrassing due to the bad acting.

We can watch the scenes with or without commentary from Sandler. He tells us a little about the sequences as well as why they got cut. Sandler gives us good notes, though oddly, he skips the extension of the segment in which a woman hires China for her husband.

In addition to the film’s trailer, we find a music video called “It’s a Lovely Life”. Created specifically to sell the movie on MTV, the video focuses on a suburban couple to make heavy-handed points about consumerism. It’s pretty bad. A Gallery adds 7 production elements related to the video shoot.

Aimless and pointless, Crimes of Passion offers a sorry excuse for an erotic drama. Even if I excuse its intentional campiness, it remains too dull to deserve any attention. The Blu-ray provides generally positive picture along with mediocre audio and a decent array of bonus materials. Crimes flops across the board.

Viewer Film Ratings: 2.5 Stars Number of Votes: 2
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