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Bigger Than Life (1956)

Not Rated  |   |  Drama  |  2 August 1956 (USA)
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Ratings: 7.6/10 from 4,461 users  
Reviews: 54 user | 58 critic

A seriously ill schoolteacher becomes dependent on a "miracle" drug that begins to affect his sanity.



(story), (story), 5 more credits »
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Title: Bigger Than Life (1956)

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Complete credited cast:
Ed Avery
Lou Avery
Wally Gibbs
Robert F. Simon ...
Dr. Norton (as Robert Simon)
Christopher Olsen ...
Richie Avery
Roland Winters ...
Dr. Ruric
Rusty Lane ...
Bob LaPorte
Rachel Stephens ...
Kipp Hamilton ...
Pat Wade


Schoolteacher and family man Ed Avery, who's been suffering bouts of severe pain and even blackouts, is hospitalized with what's diagnosed as a rare inflammation of the arteries. Told by doctors that he probably has only months to live, Ed agrees to an experimental treatment: doses of the hormone cortisone. Ed makes a remarkable recovery, and returns home to his wife, Lou, and their son, Richie. He must keep taking cortisone tablets regularly to prevent a recurrence of his illness. But the "miracle" cure turns into its own nightmare as Ed starts to abuse the tablets, causing him to experience increasingly wild mood swings. Written by Eugene Kim <>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


Life Saver or Life Destroyer? See more »




Not Rated | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:





Release Date:

2 August 1956 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

One in a Million  »

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


| (FMC Library Print)

Sound Mix:

(optical prints) (Westrex Recording System)| (magnetic prints) (Westrex Recording System)


Aspect Ratio:

2.55 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


Though only Cyril Hume and Richard Maibaum are credited for the screenplay, the shooting script was entirely re-worked by director Nicholas Ray and star/producer James Mason, who added the first 20 minutes of the film depicting Ed Avery's daily life before being hospitalized. Re-writes by Ray, his friend Gavin Lambert (who at that time was living together with Ray, recently confessing that they were actually lovers) and Clifford Odets went on all through the shooting process. See more »


When Ed cuts the telephone cord to the phone his son is using, it created an "off the hook" state on the line, and Lou could not have placed a call with a different phone. See more »


Ed Avery: God was wrong!
See more »


Referenced in American Beauty (1999) See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more (Spoiler Alert!) »

User Reviews

Drugs And The Man
5 February 2006 | by (Rome, Italy) – See all my reviews

Nicholas Ray was one of the greatest directors to come out of Hollywood. His movies are always about something and that something has a cinematic flair that makes the experience thought provoking and thoroughly entertaining. Here is Cortisone the excuse for a slap in the face of a society that was getting more complacent and more spoiled with an avalanche of "new" things coming to overwhelm our daily lives. "We're dull, we're all dull" tells James Mason to his wife. Barbara Rush is superb as a Donna Reed type with a monster in the house. James Mason, a few years away from Lolita, also produced this rarely seen classic and gives a performance of daring highs. Highly recommended to movie lovers everywhere.

42 of 49 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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