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The Razor’s Edge

Conceived as a major career departure for comic star Bill Murray, The Razor's ed ge emerges as a minimally acceptable adaptation of W. Somerset Maugham's superb 1944 novel. Tonally inconsistent and structurally awkward, film does develop some dramatic interest in the second half, but inherent power of the material is never realized. This is the film that Murray insisted Columbia let him make if he appeared in Ghost Busters.

Conceived as a major career departure for comic star Bill Murray, The Razor’s ed ge emerges as a minimally acceptable adaptation of W. Somerset Maugham’s superb 1944 novel. Tonally inconsistent and structurally awkward, film does develop some dramatic interest in the second half, but inherent power of the material is never realized. This is the film that Murray insisted Columbia let him make if he appeared in Ghost Busters.

Film opens with a happy-go-lucky Murray preparing to set sail for the European conflict. When it’s over, he is no longer certain he wants to marry his intended, pretty chatterbox Catherine Hicks. While his old friends are being destroyed by the stock market crash, he’s finally finding inner peace in the Himalayas.

The full-fledged arrival of Theresa Russell into the story livens things up considerably. A former friend from the States, Russell has descended to a routine of drugs, drink and hooking in Paris’ underworld, from which Murray resolves to rescue her. Hicks conspires to wreck their planned marriage, and ends by doing much worse than that.

Most of the time, it seems that director John Byrum and Murray have all they can handle just getting the basic plot developments up on the screen. Regretfully absent is any sense of time passing, of spiritual and emotional feeling being deepened.

Chicago-area scenes were shot in Europe, and Paris locationing has yielded little in the way of local color or atmosphere. The trip to India was worth it, though.

The Razor’s Edge

  • Production: Columbia. Director John Byrum; Producer Robert P. Marcucci, Harry Brenn; Screenplay John Byrum, Bill Murray; Camera Peter Hannan; Editor Peter Boyle; Music Jack Nitzsche; Art Director Philip Harrison
  • Crew: (Color) Widescreen. Available on VHS, DVD. Extract of a review from 1984. Running time: 128 MIN.
  • With: Bill Murray Theresa Russell Catherine Hicks Denholm Elliott James Keach Peter Vaughan
  • Music By: