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Bigger Than Life (1956)

 -  Drama  -  2 August 1956 (USA)
7.6
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Ratings: 7.6/10 from 3,785 users  
Reviews: 52 user | 57 critic

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

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

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Cast

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 ...
Nurse
Kipp Hamilton ...
Pat Wade
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Storyline

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 <genekim@concentric.net>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

A theme so vital... we urge you to bring all your compassion and understanding to it! See more »

Genres:

Drama

Certificate:

Not Rated | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

 »
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Details

Country:

Language:

Release Date:

2 August 1956 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

One in a Million  »

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

| (FMC Library Print)

Sound Mix:

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

Color:

Aspect Ratio:

2.55 : 1
See  »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

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 »

Goofs

37 minutes into the movie, Ed is at the bathroom sink and has just replaced the pill bottle in the medicine cabinet. As he closes the cabinet door, the director and the camera are reflected in the mirror. See more »

Quotes

Ed Avery: Childhood is a congenital disease - and the purpose of education is to cure it. We're breeding a race of moral midgets.
See more »

Connections

Referenced in What's My Line?: Episode dated 29 July 1956 (1956) See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more (Spoiler Alert!) »

User Reviews

 
Childhood is a congenital disease - and the purpose of education is to cure it. We're breeding a race of moral midgets.
21 May 2009 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

An absolutely fascinating story about the boring and depressing suburban life. An American beauty in the 50s.

James Mason, a school teacher, is so ashamed that he is a taxi dispatcher after school that he lets his wife (Barbara Rush) imagine he is having an affair because that would be less traumatic.

He contracts a rare disease and has to take what he calls a "miracle drug." It's cortisone, and he begins to suffer manic and depressive side effects. he goes out and spends money like crazy when he had to work part time just to pay the bills. He then gets so depressed he ups his dosage without telling his doctor.

The manic and depressive episodes turn to a grandiosity. While his friend Wally (Walter Matthau) is trying to get him to a psychiatrist, his wife is concerned about appearances and refuses. When he presents her with a journal article, she becomes very concerned.

Before she can do anything, however, he has a psychotic break and almost succeeds in killing his son.

As one would expect in a 50s movie, everything works out in the end.

Mason was outstanding, and Rush and Matthau were very good. The movie was well worth watching and one that everyone should see.


6 of 9 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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