DVD Movie Guide @ dvdmg.com
Review Archive:  # | A-C | D-F | G-I | J-L | M-O | P-R | S-U | V-Z | Viewer Ratings | Main


Edmund Goulding
Tyrone Power, Gene Tierney, John Payne, Anne Baxter, Clifton Webb, Herbert Marshall
Writing Credits:
W. Somerset Maugham (novel), Lamar Trotti

An adventuresome young man goes off to find himself and loses his socialite fiancée in the process. But when he returns 10 years later, she will stop at nothing to get him back, even though she is already married.

Rated NR

Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
English DTS-HD MA Monaural
Spanish Dolby Digital Monaural

Runtime: 145 min.
Price: $24.99
Release Date: 1/13/2015

• Audio Commentary with Film Historians Anthony Slide and Robert Birchard
• 3 “Fox Movietone News” Newsreels


Panasonic TC-P60VT60 60-Inch 1080p 600Hz 3D Smart Plasma HDTV; Sony STR-DG1200 7.1 Channel Receiver; Panasonic DMP-BD60K Blu-Ray Player using HDMI outputs; Michael Green Revolution Cinema 6i Speakers (all five); Kenwood 1050SW 150-watt Subwoofer.


The Razor's Edge [Blu-Ray] (1946)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (December 15, 2015)

Moviegoers of my generation first heard of The Razor’s Edge as a 1984 flick in which Bill Murray “went serious”. It flopped and I never saw it.

I went into 1946’s Razor’s Edge with higher hopes. The first cinematic adaptation of the 1944 novel by W. Somerset Maugham, Edge takes us to Chicago during the summer of 1919, where author Somerset Maugham (Herbert Marshall) stops to visit friend Elliott Templeton (Clifton Webb). He meets Templeton’s niece Isabel (Gene Tierney) and her fiancé Larry Darrell (Tyrone Power), a World War I vet.

Templeton doesn’t approve of Larry because the former military pilot decides not to pursue a job. Instead, Larry chooses to “loaf”, and haunted by his experiences in the war, he wanders the world to “find himself”. We follow his adventures and how these impact his long-term relationship with Isabel.

Tyrone Power’s talents weren’t boundless, and they meant he was much better suited for some roles than others. For instance, as the opportunistic cad in In Old Chicago, Power proved lively and convincing.

Unfortunately, he doesn’t live up to the challenge here. Power seems awfully vapid to play a serious thinker like Larry, so he doesn’t display enough intellect for such a complex character. Power was fine for broad roles like Zorro or dashing romantic leads, but he appears less convincing in a deeper part like this.

That leaves a hole at the heart of Edge, and others don’t fill it. I like Webb’s acidic and biting performance, but Tierney’s Isabel fails to become a compelling personality. She doesn’t exactly seem sympathetic or endearing, as she comes across as obsessed with money and getting ahead in society. Isabel never remotely becomes likable, so beyond her beauty, it’s tough to understand why Larry loves her so much; Isabel is frivolous and superficial, which makes her an odd match for a “deep thinker” like Larry.

Perhaps if Tierney and Power connected, this wouldn’t matter so much. Unfortunately, they show little chemistry. To be sure, they offer an attractive screen couple, but they can’t bring energy to their romance or relationship.

Like many adaptations of novels, Edge feels jagged and rushed. It skips through eras and situations too quickly, so this one lacks the depth necessary to bring the tale to life in a satisfying manner.

The movie’s story remains interesting at its heart, as the tale of a man in search of himself boasts potential. This version just doesn’t develop the narrative in a satisfying way, as the disconnect between lead actor and lead part becomes too much for it to overcome.

Footnote: I can’t be the only one who wonders if “Larry Darrell” influenced the names of Larry and his brothers Darryl on Newhart, can I?

The Blu-ray Grades: Picture B/ Audio B/ Bonus C

The Razor’s Edge appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 1.33:1 on this Blu-ray Disc. Though not flawless, the image worked fairly well.

Sharpness remained strong. The movie usually presented an accurate and detailed image that lacked substantial problems, as only minor signs of softness or fuzziness marred the picture. Jagged edges and moiré effects seemed absent, and I noticed no edge haloes.

Contrast looked vibrant and smooth. Black levels came across as deep and tight, and low-light shots were natural and detailed.

Print flaws caused almost occasional concerns. A few specks and blemishes showed up along the way, though these stayed modest. I didn’t think this was one of the best “old movie” restorations I’ve seen, but it satisfied.

As for the film’s DTS-HD MA monaural audio, it held up well for its age. Speech seemed concise and clear, without edginess or other issues; the vintage of the material meant the lines lacked much real warmth, but they appeared positive.

Similar thoughts greeted the music and effects. These elements came across as fairly full and accurate for material recorded in the mid-1940s. No problems with source noise occurred. While not an ambitious mix, the track suited the film.

When we shift to extras, we locate an audio commentary with film historians Anthony Slide and Robert Birchard. Both sit together for a running, screen-specific discussion. Though not without its charms, the commentary suffers from one major issue: dead air. We find acres and acres of empty spots, and these really drag down the discussion.

That’s too bad, for when the men speak, they often offer useful notes. We learn about the book and its author, the adaptation and changes made for the film, the cast and filmmakers, locations and sets, various production details, and the movie’s reception.

The pair also occasionally critique the flick. The notes about those involved with the movie’s creation get a little grittier than usual, as we hear the dirt about some of sordid elements. These topics make the conversation quite engaging – when it occurs. Unfortunately, too much dead space happens to allow this track to prosper.

Three Fox Movietone News newsreels also appear. These last a total of three minutes, 11 seconds and include “Someset Maugham’s Book The Razor’s Edge Is Honored” (0:30), “Along Broadway” (1:23) and “Motion Picture Academy Awards ‘Oscars’ For Film Achievements” (1:16). None seem all that interesting, but they’re minor fun for historical purposes.

With a good source story, The Razor’s Edge could become a solid character drama. Unfortunately, some issues with casting and adaptation turn it into a lackluster film. The Blu-ray comes with pretty good picture and audio as well as an inconsistent audio commentary. While I don’t think this is a bad movie, it doesn’t work as well as it should.

Viewer Film Ratings: 2 Stars Number of Votes: 2
0 3:
View Averages for all rated titles.

Review Archive:  # | A-C | D-F | G-I | J-L | M-O | P-R | S-U | V-Z | Viewer Ratings | Main