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Bigger Than Life

A movie directed by Nicholas Ray

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The horror of drug abuse

  • May 6, 2012
  • by
Ed Avery (James Mason) is a typical (though idealized) 1950s husband and father who is facing serious health problem. To save his life, he begins taking the controversial new drug Cortisone which soon brings about a major – and quite shocking – personality transformation.

James Mason is superb in this role. At first, he’s charming and lovable, but gradually morphs into a horrifying monster. He had me utterly convinced he was really vile and very dangerous. Barbara Rush gives a good performance as the steadfast housewife and mother who loves him, no matter how grotesque he becomes. Walter Matthau is likable in a supporting role as Ed’s co-worker. The movie was directed by Nicholas Ray (“Rebel Without a Cause”) and had some surprisingly blunt and realistic dialogue for 1956.

This story is even more relevant today with so much drug abuse and dependence. Mason’s transformation from ‘Father Knows Best’ to ‘Mr. Hyde’ is utterly believable and frightening. Good movie.

The horror of drug abuse The horror of drug abuse

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review by . March 09, 2008
posted in Movie Hype
In BIGGER THAN LIFE, director Nicholas Ray and producer/star James Mason explored the dark side of suburban life. James Mason delivers one of his most accomplished and subversive performances in this sadly-neglected 1956 movie gem, the story of a man pushed to the brink of madness thanks to his abuse of a 'miracle drug'.    Mild-mannered schoolteacher Ed Avery (James Mason) works hard to provide for his wife Lou (Barbara Rush) and young son Richie (Christopher Olsen), secretly …
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Spain released, PAL/Region 0 DVD:it WILL NOT play on standard US DVD player. You need multi-region PAL/NTSC DVD player to view it in USA/Canada: LANGUAGES: English ( Dolby Digital 2.0 ),Spanish ( Dolby Digital 2.0 ),English ( Subtitles ),Spanish ( Subtitles ),WIDESCREEN (2.35:1), SPECIAL FEATURES: Biographies, Filmographies, Interactive Menu, Scene Access,SYNOPSIS: Adapted from a New Yorker article, Bigger Than Life stars James Mason as schoolteacher Ed Avery. Upon learning that he is suffering from a potentially fatal illness, Avery is more than willing to take the new, untested drug cortisone. At first, the drug proves beneficial, with Avery making an apparently complete recovery. Before long, however, the drug's side-effects transform the mild-mannered teacher into a psychotic and a potential killer. Walter Matthau costars as the family friend who averts tragedy by saving Avery from himself. In later years, director Nicholas Ray expressed the wish that he hadn't mentioned cortisone by name, because the drug was still in its experimental stages and its positive and negative qualities had yet to be completely determined. Ray needn't have worried: because of its downbeat subject matter, Bigger Than Life was a box-office failure. SCREENED/AWARDED AT: Venice Film Festival,
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Director: Nicholas Ray
Runtime: 92 minutes
Studio: Suevia Films

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