Straight razors are also known to many as an ‘open razor’ or ‘cut-throat razors’, with the name itself highlighting the danger associated with the tool. The only people able to practice using such a razor has to be a licensed barber and they must be fully trained.
Bronze cut throat razors with cutting edges and fixed handles are rumoured to have been produced by craftsmen from Ancient Egypt. The first steel-edged cut throat razors were manufactured in Sheffield in 1680 and by the late 1680s and early 1690s.
Shortly after their production process began, straight razors became the prime method of shaving for more than two hundred years, and remained in common use until the mid 20th century. However, during the mid-20th century the safety razor began to take over as it featured a disposable blade. Soon after electric razors gained popularity from the 1970s onwards.
Despite the electric and safety razors taking over from cut-throat razors, straight razors still manage to appear in some top grossing movies. In recent time cut throat razors have taken a shift from a popularly used tool, to a weapon or a strong talking point in classic films. Often used as a weapon or as a tool to be used with caution, here we list the top six times that cut throat razors, have had us on edge.
Un Chien Andalou
A surrealistic film dating back to 1929, Un Chien Andalou, known as ‘An Andalusian Dog’ in English, included a scene known as ‘eye-slice’ where a straight-razor was featured as a weapon. In the rather disturbing scene within Un chien Andalou, part directed by the artist Salvador Dali, a cut-throat razor was used as an instrument to cut the eyes of a young woman.
Reservoir dogs – 1992
Years later in 1992, Michael Madsen’s character in Reservoir Dogs, Mr.Blonde, tortures the kidnapped LAPD Officer, Marvin Nash. After sellotaping Nash’s mouth shut, Mr.Blonde then plays the hit ‘stuck in the middle with you’ by Stealers Wheel whilst dancing around. During his dance, Mr.Blonde slices Nash’s right ear off using a cut-throat razor as a weapon. Mr.Blondes form of torture was one that sparked huge attraction, being known as the ‘most famous’ and ‘best’ scene of the entire movie.
The Matrix reloaded – 2003
A few 11 years later, the twins, two of Merovingian’s henchmen in The Matrix reloaded, use straight razors to fight Neo’s entourage. The twins remarkably win the fight against Neo’s entourage who use guns and fast moving cars against them.
Kill Bill volume. 2
Back in 2004, a cut throat razor was used in Kill Bill when Uma Thurman was buried alive inside a coffin. Out of nowhere Uma pulls out a straight razor from her boot and uses the razor to cut the rope that is binding her legs together and escape from the coffin.
In 2007, Sweeney Todd changed the face of straight razors, leading to a rise in cut-throat razors actually being known as ‘Sweeney Todd style razors’. The musical, about a murderous barber, no doubt saw the tool as one of danger that keeps the audience on edge.
Todd uses the razor in a shaving competition against Adolfo Pirelli, played by Sacha Baron Cohen, who slowly serenades his way through the contest. Todd, on the other hand, takes to the shave with speed and very rapidly wins against Pirelli, using a cut-throat razor that stuns the audience.
In 2012 Skyfall managed to boost cut throat razor sales by 405%. In a gripping scene, Naomi Harris gave Daniel Craig an extremely close shave while she whispered ‘sometimes the old ways are the best’. Many Bond fans then flocked to copy their favourite star once they had watched the scene, by purchasing similar razors online.
Harris later showed off her straight razor skills while performing the shave effortlessly on a helium balloon while on the Graham Norton show.
The future of the cut-throat razor…
But despite the constant dangerous relationship connected to straight razors they still often appear to be one of the most popular ways to shave among many high end barbers. In recent times they have also been seen as a collectable item for professional blade collectors, some being priced as high as £25,000. Check out the iconic exquisitely crafted damascene razor at Hommage.