Crimes of Passion (1984 film)

For the 1957 film, see Crime of Passion (1957 film).
Crimes of Passion

Theatrical Poster
Directed by Ken Russell
Produced by Donald P. Borchers
Barry Sandler
Larry A. Thompson
Written by Barry Sandler
Music by Rick Wakeman
Cinematography Dick Bush
Edited by Brian Tagg
Distributed by New World Pictures
Orion Pictures Corporation (Non-USA)
Release dates
  • October 19, 1984 (1984-10-19)
Running time
107 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Box office $2,900,000

Crimes of Passion is a 1984 film directed by Ken Russell starring Kathleen Turner, Anthony Perkins, John Laughlin and Annie Potts. The film explores themes of human relationships and mental illness. A mix of sex and suspense, the movie opened to controversy over its content and to negative reviews.


Bobby Grady (John Laughlin) is an ordinary middle-class electronics store owner who occasionally moonlights doing surveillance work. He attends a group therapy session because his wife, Amy (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 (Kathleen Turner), who is suspected of selling clothing patterns to his competitors. Grady discovers the accusations are unfounded, but also finds out that Joanna is moonlighting as a prostitute using the name China Blue, and shedding her business attire for provocative clothing and a platinum wig.

Grady keeps quiet about Joanna's double life. After having an erotic encounter with her in her China Blue persona, Grady begins seeing her on a regular basis, first professionally, then 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 (Anthony Perkins), who alternately spends his time delivering soapbox sermons on the street, visiting peep shows while sniffing amyl nitrite, and patronizing prostitutes. Shayne has been seeing China Blue as a customer 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 admits he may leave his wife and children, but 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 a dying man whose wife wants China Blue to give him sexual gratification one last time inspires Joanna to reveal her real first name, suggesting for the first time that 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 no longer wishes to see him, but Shayne follows her home to her actual apartment. Once there, he begs her to kill him.

Grady comes there to tell Joanna that he has left home. He hears shouting from her apartment, breaks down her door and finds someone he assumes is Joanna, cowering in terror, not realizing it is actually Shayne in her China Blue disguise. Joanna, now 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 Antonín Dvořák's "New World Symphony".

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

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