The Razor's Edge (1984 film)  

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Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel
Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel

The Razor's Edge is the second film version of W. Somerset Maugham's 1944 novel. The film was released in 1984 and stars Bill Murray, Theresa Russell, Catherine Hicks, Denholm Elliott and James Keach. It was directed by John Byrum.


According to a recent interview with director John Byrum in the San Francisco Bay Guardian, he had wanted to film an adaptation of Maugham's book in the early 1980s. The director brought a copy of the book to his friend Margaret "Mickey" Kelley who was in the hospital after giving birth. Byrum remembers getting a call the next night at four in the morning, "and it was Mickey's husband, Bill [Murray]. All he said was, 'This is Larry, Larry Darrell.'"

Byrum and Murray proceeded to drive across America while writing the screenplay. When they returned, what they had written did not resemble the previous film version with a farewell speech to John Belushi included in the script. Even though Murray was attached to the project, Byrum still had trouble finding a studio to finance it.

Dan Aykroyd suggested that Murray could star in Ghostbusters for Columbia Pictures in exchange for the studio greenlighting The Razor's Edge. Murray agreed and a deal was made with Columbia. For the next year and half, cast and crew shot on location in France, Switzerland and India with a $12 million budget. After the last day of principal photography, Murray left to make Ghostbusters.

This marked Murray's first starring role in a dramatic film, though Murray did manage to inject some of his dry wit into the script. The film grossed a mere $6.6 million at the box office , Murray's disappointment at the film's disaster inspired him to take four years off from show business.

In this version, the book's epigraph is dramatized as advice given to Darrell by a Tibetan monk: "The path to salvation is narrow and is difficult to walk as a razor's edge."


Bill Murray - Larry Darrell
Theresa Russell - Sophie MacDonald
Catherine Hicks - Isabel Bradley
Denholm Elliott - Elliott Templeton
James Keach - Gray Maturin
Peter Vaughan - Mackenzie
Brian Doyle-Murray - Piedmont
Faith Brook - Louisa Bradley
Saeed Jaffrey - Raaz

Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "The Razor's Edge (1984 film)" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on original research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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