Narrated by on-screen observer Maugham (Herbert Marshall), this intriguing tale centers on a soul-searching World War I veteran (Tyrone Power) who finds he can not settle back into the world of the upper class. Shunning hi... more »s planned marriage and career, he travels abroad to seek the meaning of life and career, he travels abroad to seek the meaning of life and causes his distraght fiancee (GeneTierney) to seek solace with another man (John Payne).« less
Michael C. Smith | San Francisco, CA United States | 05/27/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"The newly released DVD of 20th Century Fox's production of W. Somerset Maugham's "The Razor's Edge" is a cinematic treasure. The direction by Edmond Goulding is top notch and captures the glamour and decadence of post World War I Paris in glittering perfection. Much praise must go to the art and set direction by Richard Day and Nathan Juran. Over 80 sets were constructed; some only glimpsed for a few moments evoke the period and splendor of the time and place. The production values of this picture are of the highest quality of this, Fox's "Important Picture for 1946".Goulding was famous for long takes and he is aided by the brilliant cinematographer Arthur C. Miller. The score by Alfred Newman is magnificent though surprisingly sparse for a film from the 1940's His use of source music and songs of the period help to inform the viewer of character and mood. His main theme is majestic and stirring and its reprise at the end is something near to epic played against a close-up of Tyrone Power and dissolves into the crashing waves against a tramp steamer. Though a little too old and too handsome for the role of Larry Darell Tyrone Power, turns in a beautifully felt performance of a man in search for himself and his place in the world. A very modern and complex idea for the 1940's involving a trip to India and consultations with a guru. Gene Tierney is perfect as the woman who loves him and will stop at nothing to get him. This underrated beauty gives one of her best performances in an unsympathetic role. Anne Baxter, who won her Oscar as Sophie, is at times touching, real and yet manages to chew her share of the scenery toward the end of the picture. She is just plain fun to watch. But the picture is completely stolen by the wonderful, prissy and perfect performance of Clifton Web. His bravery as an actor in his last scene when he cries "There are going to be fireworks" is to be applauded. He perfectly captures the futile collapse of a shallow man as not many in Hollywood at that time might have dared. There is one scene that epitomizes the skill and craft of film making in the end of the golden age and that is the chapter on the DVD entitled "Last Fling". All the powers of the actors, director, cinematographer, set designers, lighting technicians, and composer come together in this nearly silent montage and the subsequent scene at dawn in Tierney's Paris apartment. Larry's and Isabel's night on the town moves through a sumptuous Paris nightclub, to a Russian restaurant, and on to a hot jazz club where a fist fight ensues. Watch the extras in this scene. They are the stars here and each have a tale to tell in there brief moments on screen. I was reminded of Scorsese's Coconut Grove scenes in "The Aviator" by this impeccably directed montage and wondered if it had in fact influence him being the film historian he is. But the best is yet to come, upon arriving home Isabel and Larry move through a brilliantly choreographed scene that leads up to a kiss and then a rejection. There is no dialog, only the pantomime of the actors and the accompaniment of the musical score. In this we learn all we need to of her motives and desire and his reaction and acceptance. It is very sexy and intense and the only bit of clothing that is lost is her shawl. It is brilliant and movie storytelling at its best. There is also a wonderful commentary by film historians Anthony Slide and Robert Brichard. Also included is a Fox Movietone News reel of other aspects relating to the film. Don't miss this wonderful classic from Fox's brilliant Studio Classics collection. They really know how to present their treasures to us as few other studios do. "
The Razors Edge
Milka Stanojevich | Chicago, IL USA | 11/01/2001
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Goulding's intrepretation of Maugham's novel is elegant and visually alluring. It doesn't hurt to have Tyrone Power as Larry and the stunning Gene Tierney as Isabelle. Anyone that loves dramatic cinema that is thought-provoking and leaves you feeling satiated will enjoy this movie. Although most movies don't compare with the novels they are based on, this one comes close.
This is a movie about a non-conformist; Larry doesn't want to live the life society expects of him, he wants to savor life on his own terms. Isn't that what your life should be about anyways? Somehow you sense that in the 21st century Larry would not be driving an SUV and a gas grill would not be sitting on his patio underneath the satellite disk. Perhaps it would be more accurate to state that Larry is his own man and that he is more concerned about what he thinks of himself versus what others think of him. Clifton Webb is perfect as Elliott Templeton, the quitessential snob who is catty and generous in equal turns. John Payne is a self-effacing Gray and Anne Baxter shines as Sophie. At the movies conclusion, the only person you can envy is Larry, because he is living life exactly the way he wants."
Alan W. Armes | Mountain Home, Arkansas USA | 06/16/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"'The Razor's Edge' is truly a rare masterpiece. this movie is slowly paced but not at all plodding. a profound message lies within the sophisticated dialogue. the viewer must have a mature patience to reap the enriching experience from this excellent film. this one was definitely a superior film. it deserved the oscar but unfortunately there were 2 other masterpieces released tha year (1946), one of which garnered the oscar (The Best Years Of Our Lives). a true classic that deserves more recognition than it has received thru the years.
as for the DVD, it is a good clean transfer. the only true extra is the commentary. it is still well worth the money."
The Ultimate Question
James L. | 06/17/2000
(4 out of 5 stars)
"The Razor's Edge takes an unusual theme and manages to turn it into a terrific drama. Tyrone Power stars as a war veteran who can't seem to find his purpose in life. Whether he's searching for the meaning of life, or to understand the reason why he is on Earth, he goes on a journey (externally and internally) to understand the bigger picture. That's a pretty lofty theme, but it is well played out and may leave the viewer asking themselves a few questions, too. Gene Tierney stars as the girl who loves him, but can't understand what he's all about. Anne Baxter gives a great performance as Tierney's friend, who through personal tragedy, turns to alcohol and loses all purpose in her life. Clifton Webb is Tierney's uncle, a man who exists to enjoy the pleasures of life and who is only concerned with society and appearances. This is certainly an odd film to have come out of Hollywood in the 1940s, but with its good performances and production values, it is surprisingly enjoyable."
A laudible effort.
J. Kara Russell | Hollywood - the cinderblock Industrial cubicle | 01/12/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"The plot synopsis above tells you the story line, and this very unconvential story is remarkable in having been made. At a time when some other movies were being made in color, this was still in black and white, which tells you where the movie moguls placed it in "rank". Color was reserved for block busters, and despite the epic sweep of this story, they didn't expect it to sell. (Also, "serious" dramas were often done in B&W.) It fits very well in black and white, both with it being set in the 1920s, and much of its story line is dark. Tyrone Power does some of his best acting work in this film. Perhaps his military service deepened him, or the story line seemed more important and personal to him, but I believed his quest for something beyond the conventional, comfortable life. Unfortunately, as a fan of Gene Tierney, I find this her worst work. Even at her best she can be alittle blank, but here, a level of mental machinery is required of this manipulative, calculating character, and we are left always seeing only an beautiful empty surface. Her eyes betray no inner life. And yet, as soon as you dismiss her as an empty shell, she will have a really lovely moment of total truth, ususally in the most odd places. She is perfectly cast as the pampered, narrow minded patrician. She does look a bit like Kathryn Hepburn, who was considered for the role, but determined to not have enough charm - and it is true. Hepburn in this role would have had more fire and spirit, but not this genteel icy sweetness. We do see why he loves her inspite of knowing how rotten she is. Contrast Tierney's blankness with a very young Anne Baxter who has a very demanding role; first mousy and insecure, heartbroken and heartbreaking, and then alcoholic and defeated. She did deserve an award for her work here, and it should have been a lesson for the mannered, self-conscious diva she became in her later work. This is some of her best, risk taking, work. In a role that could have been a wallpaper tearing scene stealer, she is very contained and her struggle is with herself, inside. I saw the version with Bill Murray when it was in theatres. I understood completely why he would want to make it, and he simply was not right for the role, not his acting ability, nor his personal qualities. Tyrone Power, usually too pretty, hits just the right notes. It is worth mentioning that the studio fought constantly to take religion out of this story which, ultimately, is about a religious quest - the way to live a life of meaning and rightness. The resulting restraint, as with many classics, work in its favor. The commentary is very good on this DVD, discussing details like the long takes of the director, and how that influenced all the technical aspects, from lighting to acting style. But the overwhelming stand out of this film is the story. Thoughtful, different, and interesting, it overcomes any elements of dated presentation to make it remain a classic worth continued viewing.