DVD Review HTF REVIEW: The Razor's Edge

Discussion in 'DVD' started by Michael Osadciw, May 18, 2005.

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  1. Michael Osadciw

    Michael Osadciw Screenwriter

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    [​IMG]
    FOX STUDIO CLASSICS PRESENTS

    THE RAZOR’S EDGE





    Studio: 20th Century Fox
    Film Year: 1946

    U.S. Rating: NR
    Canadian Rating: PG

    Film Length: 145 minutes
    Genre: Drama

    Aspect Ratio:[*] 1.33:1
    Colour/B&W: B&W

    Audio:[*] English Dolby Digital 2.0 mono[*] English Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo[*] Spanish Dolby Digital 2.0 mono
    Subtitles: English, Spanish
    Closed Captioned: Yes
    SLP: US $14.98






    Release Date: May 24, 2005



    Film Rating: [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] / [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG]

    Starring: Tyrone Power (Larry Darrell), Gene Tierney (Isabel Bradley), John Payne (Gray Maturin), Anne Baxter (Sophie Nelson MacDonald), Clifton Webb (Elliot Templeton), Herbert Marshall (W. Somerset Maugham)

    Directed by: Edmund Goulding
    Written by: Lamar Trotti
    Novel: W. Somerset Maugham



    "Enlightenment is the curse of civilization.
    A man who wastes his energy on knowledge is a fool.
    The more he learns, the more he wants
    and the more unhappy he becomes."



    The Razor’s Edge is number 30 in the FOX Studio Classics DVD line-up. Based on the novel by W. Somerset Maugham, this is a story of a World War I veteran’s search for himself after feeling displaced from the society where he once belonged.

    Larry Darrell had it all prepared for him: he was a graduate of law school, his fiancée is a member of a very wealthy family, and he has a great job set up for him. But Larry decides to turn his back to it all. He doesn’t want a job and he doesn’t want wealth; he wants to be a loather for a while to search for happiness and discover more to life. His beautiful fiancée Isabel thinks he is mad and this makes her very upset, but for Larry it is the right decision.

    His decision to loath stem from his days in the war when a man died to save his life. Because Larry lived and the other man died, he begins to question life, his motives and doesn't think he will be happy accumulating the riches that people in America are acquiring. He is unsure if the traditional way of life will truly lead to his happiness. Isabel chooses to wait for Larry as he decides to leave for Paris, France for a year because she believes he is worth the wait and wants him to get these feelings out of his system.

    Larry becomes caught up in acquiring more knowledge as he finds solace in his adventures. He travels high into the mountains India and is gone for longer than a year. His choice to extend his soul-searching adventure forces Isabel to move on with her life, much to her uncle’s wishes. It is many years later when they will meet again, this time with very different lives and Larry will have new ways to touch the souls of those people around him while avoiding the temptations of the corrupt society.

    This is an excellent film and forces one to think the very thing Larry does: are you happy with the life you live? We all have choices; we can conform to the working society and live our 9-5 jobs and raise a family like the billions of others. Wealth, modernization and industrialization will not necessarily lead to happiness. There is much more to life and the world around us than those things. It can take months, years, or even a lifetime to find out the answers we ask ourselves when we reflect on life, that is, if you do reflect on life. I can make a personal connection with this film because I tend to reflect on life quite a bit. I am used to going against the flow of traditional thought and conformity and have changed my life for the better. Indirectly, you can learn from this film. This movie IS about learning to take control of YOUR life, because only you know how to achieve absolute happiness, however that may be.

    This film won the 1946 Oscar for Best Supporting Actress (Anne Baxter) and two Oscar nominations: Best Supporting Actor (Clifton Webb) and Best Art direction/Interior Decoration (Black and White).


    VIDEO QUALITY
    [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] / [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG]

    FOX has wowed me once again with a super-clean looking print and transfer. I was drooling over the quality of the image on this DVD. The odd tiny spec on the film is easy to ignore when there are no major artefacts at all. Nothing was distracting on this DVD: no edge enhancement, no compression artefacts, and no major wear on the print. This is an excellent looking DVD. It is a touch on the softer side compared to other classics I’ve been viewing and at the beginning of the film white levels seemed just a little hotter than usual masking fine shades of the upper extremes of white. Black levels are excellent and shadow detail is very good. I believe this is the best we’ll see of this film before it is available in HD. The aspect ratio is 1.33:1.


    AUDIO QUALITY [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] / [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG]

    I was very surprised to hear how good the audio is on this DVD. Hiss is almost inaudible when listening to it at a reasonable volume level but will be noticeable if you choose to crank the heck out of the volume. It is available in mono (option 1) and stereo (option 2). As always, I will recommend the MONO version. It had body to it and is focused compared to the stereo version which sounds like out of phase mono…there is a slightly heavy emphasis to the right of the soundstage, no center imaging, and my ears feel that “it is wrong” because I feel like I want to shake the sound out of my ears…it’s a strange effect. The stereo version is also a little brighter in the treble. Thankfully, there is no distortion around dialogue and effects. All is intelligible except for Herbert Marshall’s voice; it sounds like he’s speaking into a bowl.


    SPECIAL FEATURES [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] / [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG]

    An audio commentary by film historians Anthony Slide and Robert Birch is included on this disc and frankly, I found it boring. These guys pause a lot through their talk and watch things happen on screen. They do provide some history on the film and the people surrounding it, but they seem unexcited about their duties to provide us with this information.

    Like other FOX Studio Classics, there are Movietone News clips of the Film’s Premier (1m15s) on Broadway showing stars, politicians and royalty exiting the theatre. The Oscar Presentation (1m15s) to Baxter is included as well as an honouring of Maugham’s book of The Razor’s Edge (0.30s).

    I would have liked to see restoration comparisons included as well.


    IN THE END…

    The Razor’s Edge is an awesome film that is guaranteed to inspire some people to think about the way they live and possibly inspire them to search for more happiness. If it doesn’t, or if you’ve already found it, you can enjoy Tyrone Power and his quest for his inner self in this superbly acted film. With a phenomenal cast including Gene Tierney, John Payne, Anne Baxter and one of my favourites, Clifton Webb, you will not be disappointed with this highly recommended film classic!

    Michael Osadciw
    05.05.18
     
  2. Bradley-E

    Bradley-E Screenwriter

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    I'm truly impressed by FOX's commitment to the quality they put into the Studio Classic's. They are the BEST at presenting thier classic films. I cannot wait I have every single DVD of this series.
     
  3. Ed St. Clair

    Ed St. Clair Producer

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    I was deeply touched by the remake, starring Bill Murray. Will have to check this out. Thank you.
     
  4. Opi

    Opi Stunt Coordinator

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    @Bradley-E


    100% agreed !
    .... not to mention their very customer friendly price range for these little treasures from the past.

    I'm going to honor that commitment by buying every single Classic and Film Noir release, weather I know the movie or like the genre or not.

    @Michael Osadciw
    Thanks for this nice review [​IMG]
     
  5. Richard M S

    Richard M S Supporting Actor

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    Thanks for a great review, I am definitely getting it when it comes out on DVD. This is a very thought-provoking film and one of my favorites. Gene Tierney was especially superb in this picture. As was mentioned, Ann Baxter won a Best Supporting Oscar for her performance, but studio chief Daryl Zanuck originally offered her role to Betty Grable - who turned him down over his insisting she have it.
     
  6. oscar_merkx

    oscar_merkx Lead Actor

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    Wow I have not seen this before

    Will buy it

    [​IMG]
     
  7. Gordon McMurphy

    Gordon McMurphy Producer

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    Looking at this film today and after watching countless Hollywood productions of the 30s and 40s, I was struck at how unconventional it must have been for a film like this to emerge as an A-picture in 1946, shortly after the Nazis and Japanese had been defeated, in what was a just war, unlike the Great War of 1914-1918, which is where The Razor's Edge draws its anxiety, confusion and existentialism.

    The novel is very powerful - as much of Maugham's work is - and this adaptation, although faithful, lacks the focused anguish of the original text and although Power gives a fine performance as Larry Darrell, his performance isn't dark enough and the actor's lack of understanding of Eastern philosophy and religion will have contributed to this. I haven't seen the Bill Murray version yet, but I know that Murray has a long-standing love and appreciation for Buddhism, Zen, etc, and back in the early 80s, it was Murray's dream to star in his own version Maugham's legendary novel.

    I can't recall if it mentions which books Darrell claims to have read in the novel, but in the film, Power's Darrell says he has read countless books. He was probably out of luck in the 1920s, as the Upanishads was not generally available in English translation and neither was Schopenhauer's immensely enlightening, The World as Will and Representation, Schopenhauer being the first philosopher to bring Eastern thought to the West. And as the great, paradoxical thinker noted, "As the biggest library if it is in disorder is not as useful as a small but well-arranged one, so you may accumulate a vast amount of knowledge but it will be of far less value than a much smaller amount if you have not thought it over for yourself."

    The dilemma at the heart of The Razor's Edge is summed up in one of Schopenhauer's most famous insights: "Every man takes the limits of his own field of vision for the limits of the world."

    The defrocked Priest's banal 'observation' that, "Enlightenment is the curse of civilization. A man who wastes his energy on knowledge is a fool. The more he learns, the more he wants and the more unhappy he becomes," can be countered with Schopenhauer's view that "Nature shows that with the growth of intelligence comes increased capacity for pain, and it is only with the highest degree of intelligence that suffering reaches its supreme point." In other words, human suffering has to have a limit (as Buddhists believe) and can be overcome. Is this part of what Nietzsche meant when he said that "Man is something that must be overcome"?

    Making a film of The Razor's Edge was a bold enterprise and, overall, it was a success. Any film that makes people stop and take their own life into consideration, in the Socratic sense, is good. 1946 was a good year to plant a seed of doubt in people's heads. Perhaps less so in 1984, in a decade of yuppies and cultural excess, but lacking in reflection (the Murray version was a flop, yes?). Maybe today a new take on the novel could hit even harder, with the Great War replaced by a fictional third World War.
     
  8. Michael Osadciw

    Michael Osadciw Screenwriter

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    Thank you Gordon for your insight.

    Regarding the lack of focused anguish and the darkness of the original text, I believe the original director for this film (his name escapes me) wanted a more literal translation of this film from the book. I think it was Zanuck that said "no way" thus Goulding got the job.

    Mike
     
  9. Gordon McMurphy

    Gordon McMurphy Producer

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    I found a good site devoted to both version of The Razor's Edge: http://www.theoldcorner.org/factfile.htm

    Amazing that Murray's agreement to make Ghostbusters only if Columbia financed The Razor's Edge is pretty startling! He also waived his actor's fee. I have the Murray version in the post (along with Edward Dmytryk's Christ in Concrete, which has a similar theme) and I look forward to seeing it and see how it compares with the 1946 version.
     

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