No offense to Nina Simone, but younger viewers of Point of No Return have been known to wonder if the singer so effective at quelling the beast in Bridget Fonda's angry character is merely a screenwriter's invention. Far from it. As a matter of fact, the now 60-year-old High Priestess of Soul has been at it since the '50s, lending her edgy, throaty androgyny to every genre from gospel to R&B to raging black protest to torch songs (a collection of the latter, entitled A Single Woman, is due out from Elektra in July).
Point of No Return's director, John Badham, could think of no better voice to echo his heroine's raw emotion. ''Simone is a woman who doesn't take any crap from anybody,'' says Badham, who included five of her songs on the Hans Zimmer soundtrack (RCA). The fact that the seasoned diva's rebel yell may be a nuance lost on the twentysomething set did not daunt the director. ''Audiences don't like to be spoon-fed the same old stuff. I didn't want to just exploit Nirvana because all the kids are listening to that,'' says Badham. He has had good luck sticking to his guns in the past. While he was making Saturday Night Fever, the movie with the biggest-selling soundtrack of all time, Badham says, ''I played the Bee Gees tape for the music people. They all said, 'This is no good. Can't we get some Boz Scaggs?''' Recommended Simone: The Best of Nina Simone (Philips), The Best of Nina Simone (Novus), Don't Let Me Be Misunderstood (Mercury), The Blues (Novus).