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This review originally appeared in issue 14 of THE CINEMA LASER.

CRIMES OF PASSION

It has taken over a decade, but the folks at Lumivision have released an unrated Letterboxed collector's edition of CRIMES OF PASSION ($50). At the time of its release, CRIMES OF PASSION was one of the most controversial and frank movies ever made about sex. Director Ken Russell takes the viewer on a journey that strips bare the human psyche and introduces us to China Blue, a repressed fashion designer by day, who walks the streets at night making every man's sexual fantasy a reality as a fifty dollar-a-trick hooker. Kathleen Turner gives one of the bravest performances of any actress in the role of China Blue. Not only does she expose herself by shedding her clothes, she also exposes herself by bringing a humanity to the depths of humiliation which China Blue allows herself to sink.

The plot follows the exploits of China Blue as two men enter her life, and alter it forever. Both men touch the real woman who hides behind the facade of China Blue, but they do it in very different ways. First there is Bobby Grady, a man whose marriage to his high school sweetheart is falling apart. Bobby is hired to follow Joanna, the fashion designer when she is suspected of industrial espionage. Bobby discovers Joanna's secret life as China Blue and becomes attracted to her. Their first sexual encounter reaches Joanna, making her believe that love may be possible for the first time in her life. The second man to reach China Blue is the Reverend Peter Shayne, a fallen street preacher with an obsession with sex and death. Shayne believes that he and China Blue are mirror images of each other, and that if he can save China Blue, he can also release himself from his personal demons. Anthony Perkins gives his best and most memorable performance since Norman Bates in the role of Peter Shayne. The ferocity and fearlessness of Turner and Perkins' performances have made CRIMES OF PASSION one of the most memorable films ever made. In addition to Kathleen Turner and Anthony Perkins, the cast of CRIMES OF PASSION also includes John Laughlin as Bobby Grady, Annie Potts as Bobby's wife and Bruce Davidson as Bobby's best friend.

Lumivision has given CRIMES OF PASSION a phenomenal looking Letterboxed transfer which restores the film's 1.85:1 aspect ratio. Dick Bush's spectacular cinematography reproduces almost flawlessly, with only some of the intensely saturated neon lighting causing some bleeding. The digitally encoded monaural soundtrack is strong, but contains a bit of hiss which becomes somewhat noticeable when ampliifed. Still, the track is worth amplifying for Rick Wakeman's adaptation of Dvorak's New World symphony. The Sony DADC pressing was very clean.

As supplement, Lumivision has included an audio commentary by director Ken Russell and writer/producer Barry Sandler. The commentary is interesting, and it is great to hear Russell talk about one of his films, although he disappears halfway through the movie. Additional supplements include two scenes cut from the film, an original theatrical trailer and a TV spot. The two cut scenes aren't necessary to the film, although had they been included, they would have humanized Annie Potts' character. CRIMES OF PASSION is one of the most important films about sex ever made, and this Lumivision edition truly does it justice. I'm sure most Laserdisc collectors will want to add this edition of the Ken Russell classic to their collections.

 
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Laserdisc reviews are Copyright 1996 THE CINEMA LASER and may not be copied or reprinted without the written consent of the publisher.
THE CINEMA LASER is written, edited and published by Derek M. Germano.


 

 

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