Thursday, 7 July 2011

Double Solemnity

Bill Murray stars a WW1 veteran who searches for meaning in The Razor's Edge - a melodrama based on the novel by W. Somerset Maugham. After the war Murray's character, Larry, leaves his upper class chums to their cosseted fates and takes a series of manual jobs while travelling the world, reading incessantly and looking for something more substantial than black tie parties and privilege. With a cast including Denholm Elliot, Theresa Russell, James Keach and the excellent Peter Vaughan there's no shortage of talent for Murray to spark off and his amiable charm and wit soften what's eventually quite a tragic tale. According to WikiP, Murray only appeared in Ghostbusters on the condition that this film was made, and despite it's critical mauling I am glad he made the deal, it's an interesting melancholy film that shows Murray has long hankered for something more than Caddyshack buffoonery.

Ace in the Hole is a biting satire on gutter journalism starring Kirk Douglas and directed by the brilliant Billy Wilder. A washed up New York hack takes a job on a local rag, The Albuquerque News, and dreams of clawing his way back to the top when a scoop lands in his lap, some treasure hunter has become trapped in cave system and Kirk's unscrupulous journo, Tatum, is quick to see the possibilities and begins to exploit the situation with no concern for the consequences. A towering central performance by Douglas, a tight, merciless script and some canny cinematography give weight to the emotional punch this film delivers and it's hard to believe this flopped on it's original release in '51.

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