Category Archives: Making of

The Making of The Razor’s Edge

Ghost of a chance: Developing The Razor’s Edge

Developing the Razor's Edge

In the mid-late 70s, Director, John Byrum was keen to make a film about ex-patriates in Europe.

At the same time, he was keen to work on a project with Saturday Night Live star and old friend, Bill Murray. John had sent a number of scripts to Bill but had received no interest.

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Filed under Development, Making of

On the Road: Writing The Razor’s Edge

“We thought too many films today are written by guys sitting in air-conditioned offices with bronze windows and directors who look at story boards and video tapes of other guy’s films. That works fine for them but we wanted to find a different process”

John Byrum

Bill and John travelled around America developing the script.

Bill Murray in Malibu, 1983

Bill Murray in Malibu writing The Razor’s Edge (Photo used with permission)

They worked in bars (where the jukebox would be on) , bus stations, restaurants, “we were constantly being interrupted by people saying ‘Hey aren’t you on Saturday Night Live?”. They went to practically every restaurant and bar in Manhattan, New Jersey, upstate, southern New York.”It got so we couldn’t work at home; it was too distracting”.

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TV Trailers: Selling ‘Serious’

Columbia Pictures were clearly unsure how to market The Razor’s Edge to an audience still in love with Ghostbusters.

Bill Murray also seemed to be playing down the serious subject matter in some of his promotional interviews. Continue reading

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Filed under Press and publicity, Release and aftermath, Trailers

An Englishman in Hollywood

In 1945, Author, W. Somerset Maugham traveled to Hollywood to write a screen adaptation of his recent novel, The Razor’s Edge.

20th Century Fox had purchased the rights to the book in October 1944 for $150,000, however, Maugham insisted on writing the screenplay for no fee, with only his expenses being paid. Maugham had seen adaptations of his earlier work, and was unhappy with the finished production. Maugham wanted this novel to be recreated as faithfully as possible. Whilst Maugham collaborated with Writer/Producer Lemar Trotti, he was surprisingly unprotective of his novel. Continue reading

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Filed under The 'Tyrone Power' version

Salisbury Plain Memories

I received a fantastic e-mail from William Mackain-Bremner who was an extra in some of the Word War 1 scenes

“Thirty years ago, I was an extra on the film of W. Somerset Maugham’s book “The Razor’s Edge”. At that time I was living in Wiltshire, near Salisbury plain, which is where they were shooting the WW1 scenes. The production crew had appropriated some soldiers from the local infantry battalion in Warminster, and I managed to get invited along via some or other army connection.

Bill Murray and James Keach on location in Salisbury Plain, England

We had to be – at various stages of filming – French, German or British troops, either standing guard, walking wounded, or dead, draped over the edge of a crater, etc. I recall one scene where we were wounded soldiers in the back of an ambulance, and there were two lead actors up front.

As the script required we would all bounce vigorously along muddy tracks and over the grassy rises until the Director shouted “Cut!”, and then if he was not satisfied we might have to do it all over again. It was summertime, but a cold windy day up on top of the Plain, and during a break in the filming the two actors up front took pity on us extras, popped open a flask of whiskey, and offered it round the ambulance.”

Only after a year had gone by did I found out that they were Bill Murray and his half-brother Brian Doyle-Murray. This was before Ghost Busters and Groundhog Day, and I had never seen Saturday Night Live, so at the time I had no idea who they were! Later on in the filming, we had to inhabit some “trenches”, sit in dugouts in front of braziers, drink tea, etc, while the actors walked by and the cameras panned along with them. We had to pretend that it was winter time, and the crew was blowing fake snow around to help us get “in the mood”. As I was lifting a mug of tea to my lips some of the fake flakes landed in my tin cup … and instead of melting floated on top of the tea and made it taste salty!

Anyway, the years went by, and this became a long forgotten memory, but I was recently reminded of it when I was researching the famous “Over The Top” painting by John Nash. I then stumbled on this website dedicated to the movie, including the gallery with some stills and production shots: Pictures #15-20 are the ones related to the WW1 scenes. Image #20 is – I think – taken around the time of the whiskey incident! Thanks so much for creating this website.

Great memories! I can’t believe that 30 years has gone by already!”

William Mackain-Bremner

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Filed under Making of, Shooting