Drama, Romance

The Razor’s Edge (1946)

Comments Off on The Razor’s Edge (1946) 17 June 2015

Razor's Edge blu ray

Studio: 20th Century Fox

Theatrical Release: November 19, 1946

Blu Ray Release: January 13, 2015

Director: Edmund Goulding

Not Rated

Review by James Klein

Remade as a box office flop in 1984 starring Bill Murray in his first straight role, the original 1946 film earned several Academy Award nominations with Anne Baxter winning in the Best Supporting Actress category. Now on blu ray, this Academy Award nominated drama may at times play a bit too melodramatic for some viewers but yet can still be as relevant today in its themes of loss, loneliness, and hope.

The film opens with Larry Darell (played by the great Tyrone Power who in my opinion will always be Zorro) meets with his socialite fiancee Isabel (Gene Tierney) at a party hosted by her stuck up, egotistical uncle Elliott (Clifton Webb from Titanic). Larry and Isabel are madly in love with one another but Isabel doesn’t understand Larry’s lack of desire to settle down, find a job, and live happily ever after. Larry wants none of this but yet at the same time he doesn’t know what he wants. Larry believes that there is something greater out there for him and that he just needs to find it. While the two love one another they both agree to live separate lives.

As years go by, Isabel marries Gray Maturin (John Payne) and the two have two children. However, after the Wall Street crash of 1929, the two do not live the lavish lifestyle they once had. Gray himself now suffers from psychosomatic symptoms which leaves this couple living their lives day by day, more so content than happy.

Larry in the meantime proves himself an able Everyman, jumping from job to job, making friends wherever he goes and ending up entering an Eastern mystic’s Shangri-La like abode where he goes into deep seclusion and meditation. Coming out of seclusion and feeling like a new man, Larry goes back home to Chicago to see his old friends as well as Isabel.

The Razor’s Edge‘s best moments are whenever Anne Baxter is on the screen. Her role as Isabel’s friend Sophie MacDonald is simply heart-breaking. When her husband and baby are killed in a car crash, she has an emotional breakdown which causes her to turn to the drink. Larry falls in love with Sophie and eventually puts an end to her alcoholism. Larry convinces Sophie to marry him much to the dismay of Isabel. Isabel’s sudden dark turn into jealousy and revenge ultimately changes everyone’s lives forever.

The Razor’s Edge seems like a film that may have been ahead of its time when first released and I wonder if the film suffered from any backlash because of how dark in tone the film ultimately is. Clocking in at almost two and a half hours, the film also drags endlessly at times, forcing the viewer to watch long intense conversations between characters that can eventually try one’s patience. I personally found it hard to understand Larry’s desire to not do anything with his life as its never explained completely what it is he is looking for. It’s hard for me to root on a character who has a golden opportunity to marry a beautiful women whose also financially successful but yet throws it away so he can “loaf” and find himself. I also identified with Isabel’s jealous rage, feeling more sympathy for her than what the film makers felt. Here is a man she loved who now comes back into her life and decides to marry her friend instead?

What I enjoy about The Razor’s Edge is that the film can provoke conversation and disagreements. While it’s not a film I would probably revisit anytime soon (I guess Judy Garland turned down the role of Sophie because she thought the part and the film was too depressing) I do respect the non-traditional storyline and absolutely loved the performances by the entire cast, namely Baxter whose brave performance is one that should be seen by any aspiring actress.

The blu ray by 20th Century Fox looks quite well. The clarity of the picture as well as little print damage for a film that is now almost 70 years old is impressive. The 1.0 mono soundtrack works fine I guess but due to the films age, it’s a bit hard to hear. Be prepared to crank up the volume once the film gets going. The blu ray does have an audio commentary track by film historians Anthony Slide and Robert Birchard who not only speak about the film but of the Golden Age of Hollywood as well. The only other special feature is three minutes worth of old news reel footage regarding the film, my favorite being a brief look at the Academy Awards when Baxter received her award from a wheel-chair bound Lionel Barrymore. I would have liked to have seen the original trailer included, just to see how 20th Century Fox marketed the movie upon release.

The Razor’s Edge can be a bit preachy and too dialog driven for some. The film almost comes across as a stage play due to its long dialog driven segments. But The Razor’s Edge is definitely unique and offers some great performances that can captivate any viewer who enjoys a well acted film. Just don’t expect to feel good after its over.

Movie and Blu Ray Rating: ★★★☆☆

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