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VIDEO ESSAY: BEAVER’S LODGE: THE RAZOR’S EDGE (1946)

I don’t usually have a lot of patience for navel-gazing, spiritual-trek, meaning-of-life movies, and I don’t think too many of them have been particularly successful, at least commercially. I put off for years watching this 1946 film adaptation of Somerset Maugham’s 1944 novel for just the reason that I didn’t want to spend two and a half hours watching some guy find himself, even if the guy was someone I like as much as Tyrone Power. Well, that delay was a mistake. It’s not for everyone, I’m sure, and it may have faults as drama, but I found “The Razor’s Edge” a richly rewarding experience. Part of that is due to some really exquisite filmmaking by director Edmund Goulding and cinematographer Arthur Miller, a gorgeous score by Alfred Newman, a literate and dramatic script by Lamar Trotti, and some quietly terrific performances by a starry cast including Power, Gene Tierney, Anne Baxter, Clifton Webb, Elsa Lanchester and others. But part of it is due to the fact that this isn’t just a story of a man seeking his soul and its meaning, it’s a fine mixture of character drama and internal drama, the latter of which isn’t often successfully translated to the screen.

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