Bigger Than Life

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"The story of the handful of hope that became a fistful of hell!"
  • NR
  • 1956
  • 7.4  (7,904)

Bigger Than Life is a 1956 drama film that stars James Mason, Barbara Rush, and Walter Matthau. The movie is based on the article "Ten Feet Tall" by Berton Roueche, which was published in the New Yorker in 1955. The film tells the story of Ed Avery (James Mason), a high school teacher and family man who becomes addicted to cortisone after an illness. Initially, the drug alleviates his pain and provides him with energy, but soon Ed's personality changes, and he becomes increasingly aggressive and paranoid. The film explores the ways in which Ed's addiction affects his relationships with his wife, Lou (Barbara Rush), and son, Richie (Christopher Olsen).

The movie was directed by Nicholas Ray, who was known for his innovative technique and use of color. Bigger Than Life was one of the first films to use Cinemascope, a widescreen format that was popular in the 1950s.

James Mason delivers a powerhouse performance as Ed Avery, a man who starts out as a devoted husband and father but becomes consumed by his addiction. Mason captures the character's transformation from a sympathetic figure to a terrifying one, and his portrayal of Ed's descent into madness is both compelling and chilling.

Barbara Rush is equally impressive as Lou, Ed's wife, who is forced to confront the reality of her husband's addiction and the toll it takes on their relationship. In one scene, Lou confronts Ed about his behavior, and the tension between the two actors is palpable.

Walter Matthau, in one of his earlier film roles, plays Wally Gibbs, a fellow teacher and friend of Ed's who becomes increasingly concerned about Ed's behavior. Matthau brings a wry humor to the role, but also conveys the sense of unease and alarm that his character feels.

One of the film's strengths is its examination of the American dream and the pressure that men feel to provide for their families. Ed is a middle-class man who sees himself as a failure because he can't afford to give his family the best of everything. When he becomes addicted to cortisone, he sees it as a way to become the "big man" he's always wanted to be.

The film also touches on themes of masculinity and power. Ed's addiction makes him feel invincible, and he becomes increasingly aggressive and domineering. He sees himself as a hero, but to his family and friends, he becomes a monster.

Bigger Than Life has been praised for its boldness and originality. It was one of the first films to tackle the issue of drug addiction, and its frank portrayal of the subject matter was daring for its time. The movie was also notable for its use of color and Cinemascope, which added to the film's intensity and visual power.

Overall, Bigger Than Life is a gripping and thought-provoking drama that features standout performances from its lead actors. It's a harrowing examination of addiction and the toll it takes on individuals and families. The film's themes of masculinity, power, and the American dream are still relevant today, making it a timeless classic.

Bigger Than Life
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  • IMDB Rating
    7.4  (7,904)