Darryl F. Zanuck was one the most prestigious film producers of Hollywood’s golden era. In his tenure at 20th Century Fox, he prided himself on the meticulous adaptations of classic and popular literature. Director Edmund Goulding’s 1946 adaptation of W. Somerset Maugham’s The Razor’s Edge is an excellent example of a philosophical tale of a man searching for meaning and wisdom in life.
The Razor’s Edge concerns Larry Darrell, an emotionally scarred World War I veteran who returns to his middle class Chicago lifestyle. Darrell struggles to find deeper meaning in a world of ’20s prosperity and connections to the high society “good life” of a post war era. Larry is engaged to beautiful young socialite Isabel Bradley. Unfortunately, Bradley’s wealthy uncle Elliott prefers classier suitors for his niece. When Larry decides to temporarily put job opportunities and marriage plans on hold in order to “find himself,” Isabel’s family encourages her to pursue matrimonial ambitions with Gray Maturin, a wealthy family friend. Larry’s travels take him to France, India and ultimately back to the Midwest before he is able to find spiritual contentment and love. The Razor’s Edge is a thoughtful and compelling melodrama with surprisingly good acting from less than A-list stars. Fox contract players Tyrone Power and Gene Tierney deliver fantastic performances in their roles as lovers Larry and Isabel. Anne Baxter created such a compelling role as troubled friend Sophie; she won the much deserved Best Supporting Actress Academy Award for this performance.
Despite being nominated for three other Academy Awards, including Best Picture, this hidden gem is nearly forgotten in the plethora of quality post-war films of 1946.

About The Author

Syd Slobodnik

Syd Slobodnik has been writing for Illini Media publications since 1975: for The Daily Illini from 1975 to 1978 and from 1984 to 1988, and for buzz since 2003. Syd teaches numerous film courses at the University of Illinois in the English Department. He also cohosts a monthly television program which reviews old films that remind you of recent films you may have seen, called "If You Liked, You'll Love" on the Parkland Channel.

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