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Bigger Than Life (1956)

 -  Drama  -  2 August 1956 (USA)
7.6
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Ratings: 7.6/10 from 3,742 users  
Reviews: 52 user | 56 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:

The Motion Picture You've Been Hearing About ... Reading About ... And Talking About! 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: [of wife Lou] It's a shame that I didn't marry someone who was my intellectual equal.
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more (Spoiler Alert!) »

User Reviews

 
Terrifying
29 March 2006 | by (Lancaster, Ohio USA) – See all my reviews

This is an excellent movie. I saw it once, and I never wish to see it again. I grew up in a household like this, only there was never a solution to my father's mania, depression, and incredible anger.

About all I can say about Mr Mason's performance, and that of Ms Rush, is that they could have been my parents, and I could have been that kid. It never got to the point where I was offered up like Isaac, but the rest of it was right, right down to the speech where the father condemns all children because they're ignorant. I'd heard that one. His wife was helpless; they all are.

I do not know where the screenwriters got their dialog, but I hope they didn't learn it the way I did. As it happened, I was terrified and transfixed while watching it, only calming down after the father realized that something was wrong, and vowed to correct it, and there was a means of correcting it.

When the movie was over--I don't know if I watched it in the theater or on TV--I had to go home, where there was still rage, and no solution to it. I would have been nine years old.

There was a time that I wanted my parents to see that movie, in the hope that they'd realize that this was how they acted, and stop it.

It never happened. They were divorced years later. My father was angry and crazy right up to the day he died three years ago. My mother, in her nursing home in Cleveland, maintains that I must be making it all up.

M Kinsler


39 of 51 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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