Tag Archives: John Byrum

“Byrum at the helm of Columbia’s $12m ‘Razor’s Edge’ production”

Published -October 29th 1983

Photograph by Barry Peake

Colin Vaines talks to John Byrum, director of the new version of W Somerset Maugham’s “The Razor’s Edge”

IT IS THE lingering memory of the horrors of the First World War that causes Larry Darrell, hero of W Somerset Maugham’s “The Razor’s Edge”, to give up the security of post-war America and set off on a spiritual and philosophical quest for some meaning in life.

In a field in south-west England recently, those horrors were being recreated on an appallingly realistic depiction of a World War One battleground for Columbia’s new version of the Maugham novel.

Produced by Harry Benn and Bob Marcucci, with Rob Cohen as executive producer, “The Razor’s Edge” is directed by John Byrum, whose previous two films were “Inserts” and “Heart Beat”.

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Filed under Magazine articles, Press and publicity

Profile: Elliot Templeton

“I always look for the weak parts in any character I’m asked to play. I try to find out what he’s frightened of to justify what he covers up. There’s always a seed there. The trick is to find it.”

Denholm Elliott, accomplished actor and veteran of over 70 films, stars as the eccentric Elliot Templeton in Columbia Pictures’ “The Razor’s Edge”

Denholm Elliot as Elliot Templeton in The Razor's Edge

Denholm Elliot as Elliot Templeton

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Filed under Cast, Characters

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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Filed under Making of, Writing

When Bill Murray met John Byrum

Since 2005, I’ve been lucky enough to have the help of the Director of The Razor’s Edge, John Byrum.

He has offered plenty of insights into the production of the film, but one question I had never asked until now is how he first met Bill Murray.

“Bill and I are both from the North Shore suburbs of Chicago. Grew up just a few miles apart, but I never heard of him until one night in LA, Jessica Harper and I were watching the then fabled TV show Saturday Night Live and he was making his very first appearance as Chevy Chase’s replacement in the cast. Continue reading

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Filed under John Byrum interview

John Byrum and Bill Murray first meet

© 2017, Shaun Kelley

11 Nov 2014

How did you and Bill first meet and become friends?

“Bill and I are both from the North Shore suburbs of Chicago. Grew up just a few miles apart, but I never heard of him until one night in LA, Jessica Harper and I were watching the then fabled TV show Saturday Night Live and he was making his very first appearance as Chevy Chase’s replacement in the cast. He introduced himself to America in the most unique Lenny Bruce/Hunter Thompson stream of consciousness way we’d ever seen.

A couple of nights later we were having dinner down at the Original Pantry, a unique restaurant down in the skid row of Los Angeles that’s open 24 hours a day and is staffed only by ex-convicts. In walks Bill and a couple fellow cast mates. What they were doing on the West Coast, I don’t remember, they all had to do another SNL in New York a few days later. Bill came over to our table and introduced himself — in hindsight just probably hitting on movie star Jessica — but that’s how we met and became bi-coastal friends.

He was one of the most unique people I’d ever met. In the next few years I’d send him scripts and asked if wanted to do them, it was always “nope”. A couple years later I was writing “Razor’s Edge”, the phone rings at 4:am, wakes me up and it’s Bill, says that’s the movie he wants to do! By then he’d become a big star, it was a kind of problem for Columbia — a huge comedian in a Somerset Maugham drama?

They did a budget, it was more than 25 million bucks, said they couldn’t gamble that much on a comedian in a story like that. I flew to London, asked the great producer Harry Benn, who’d done a lot of Ken Russell’s movies, to do an English budget (i.e. a real one), he came back with half as much. Columbia couldn’t deny investing that, they wanted Bill to do “Ghostbusters” too badly, and that’s how it all came together. If you look at what he’s done with his career over the last 30 years, it as where he was headed all along.

Since you started this amazing old corner email about the movie, you can see the people who write to you are fewer but infinitely more fascinating than the larger audience that prefer “Caddy Shack” or “Meatballs” sketch comedy movies where Bill started. Maugham created this, but Bill had to sell it, and I think they both did a job that just confuses the “popcorn crowd”, but the ones with a little more complexity see a whole different movie”

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